Finishing a four-game road swing to open CCHA play, No. 4/4 Miami heads to Big Rapids, Mich. Friday and Saturday for a two-game series with defending national runner-up No. 19 Ferris State. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. both nights at Ewigleben Ice Arena.
The RedHawks (4-1-1, 1-1-0-0 CCHA) began their 32nd and final season of CCHA play last weekend with a split at then-No. 6/6 Michigan. Last Friday, Miami suffered its first and only loss of the year as the Wolverines broke a 2-2 tie with two goals in the third period to top the RedHawks, 4-2. Saturday, Miami turned the table, tallying three unanswered goals in the third period to erase a 2-1 deficit and knock off the Wolverines, 4-3. It was just Miami's sixth win in 53 tries at Yost Ice Arena. Senior Curtis McKenzie scored the game-winner while sophomore Austin Czarnik and freshman Riley Barber each had two points in the win and three points on the weekend. Freshman goaltender Jay Williams played all but five minutes in net on the weekend, coming off the bench Friday after starter Ryan McKay was injured, while he made a career-high 37 saves in Saturday's win. Czarnik and Barber share the team lead with eight points each.
The Bulldogs (2-2-2, 1-1-0-0 CCHA) also opened CCHA play with a weekend split at home with Alaska. Ferris State beat the Nanooks Friday, 6-3, scoring the game's final four goals over the last two periods led by two goals from Kyle Bonis. Saturday, Alaska edged FSU, 3-2, scoring with 50 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs have the 10th-best offense nationally (3.50 gpg), led by Bonis' seven points and four goals. Goaltender C.J. Motte has a 2.57 GAA and a .908 save percentage.
The RedHawks are 44-42-16 all-time against the Bulldogs, including 20-22-9 in Big Rapids, Mich. Under head coach Enrico Blasi, Miami is 16-11-6 against Ferris State. Last year, the RedHawks were swept to open CCHA play and are winless in four straight at FSU, last winning Jan. 16, 2010.
Enrico Blasi (Miami '94) is in his 14th season at Miami. He is a four-time CCHA Coach of the Year and was named National Coach of the Year in 2005-06. He stands 290-185-49 in 14 seasons at his alma mater, where he has led Miami to eight NCAA Tournaments, including two Frozen Four berths, a National Championship game appearance, a pair of CCHA regular-season titles and the school's first ever Mason Cup in 2011. Blasi is the the winningest coach in school history.
Bob Daniels (Michigan State '82) is in his 21st season at the helm of the Bulldogs where he has compiled a record of 336-364-81. He is the winningest coach in school history and is a two-time CCHA Coach of the Year and Spencer Penrose Award Winner for National Coach of the Year, first earning the honor in 2002-03 and then again last year. Daniels guided the Bulldogs to CCHA regular-season titles in both 2002-03 and last year, when FSU was the national runner-up.
- Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik was named CCHA Player of the Month for October on Thursday after totaling eight points (3g, 5a) in six games, which is tied for the CCHA lead. He is riding a four-game point streak while his five helpers also tie for first in the CCHA.
- Freshman forward Riley Barber earned CCHA Gongshow Rookie of the Month for October, also notching eight points (4g, 4a) in six games, tying with Czarnik for the CCHA lead. Barber is on a five-game point streak while his 1.33 ppg is third nationally among rookies.
- Miami is 4-0-0 this year when scoring at least three goals while the RedHawks are 4-0-1 when holding their opponent to three goals or less on the season.
- Miami's sophomore class has accounted for 10 of the team's 19 goals this year (52.6 percent). Add in the freshmen's six goals and underclassmen have all but three goals this year.
- Miami volunteer assistant coach Tommy Hill graduated from Ferris State last year when he captained the Bulldogs to their first ever national championship game.
After back-to-back weekends on the road to start CCHA play, Miami returns home to host Northern Michigan Friday and Saturday, Nov. 9-10 at Steve Cady Arena. The two-game CCHA series starts a four-game homestand for Miami. Puck drop is 7:35 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
Neither game this weekend will be televised however Greg Waddell will have the call on radio on WKBV-AM 1490 both nights and the audio will also be streamed on Miami All-Access.
FAMILIAR FACES: There will be some friendly faces behind the bench for each team as one member of each coaching staff has a connection to the opposition.
- Miami volunteer assistant coach Tommy Hill, in his first year with the RedHawks, graduated from Ferris State last year, captaining the Bulldogs to the national championship game.
- Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels earned his master’s degree from Miami in sports organization and was a graduate assistant coach for Miami during the 1986-87 season.
THE BARBER SHOP: Freshman forward Riley Barber has had a stellar start to his collegiate career, already picking up two awards from the CCHA.
• He was named CCHA Rookie of the Month for October after posting a 4-4-8 line in six games during the month.
He is tied for the lead among rookies nationally with four goals (one of just two) while his 1.33 points per game are third among NCAA freshmen. He is tied for the CCHA lead with eight points this season.
He has a goal in four of six games this year and is riding a five-game point streak.
• Barber earned his first CCHA honor Oct. 22 as he was named CCHA Rookie of the Week after a four-point weekend against Providence Oct. 19-20 with two goals and two assists.
• On Oct. 20 he recorded a career-high three points, his first multi-point game, including his first two career assists.
MR. OCTOBER: After a stellar freshman campaign, sophomore forward Austin Czarnik has picked up where he left off. He was named to the Preseason All-CCHA Second Team and has certainly played up to that billing thus far. Czarnik earned CCHA Player of the Month for October on Nov. 1 after posting a 3-5-8 scoring line in six games. His eight points tie for the CCHA lead with freshman teammate Riley Barber while his five assists also share the CCHA lead. Czarnik, who is riding a four-game point streak, was a CCHA All-Rookie Team member last year when he led all CCHA freshmen with 37 points, which was second on the team, while his 27 assists were first for Miami. Czarnik is the second-leading returning scorer in the CCHA behind Notre Dame’s T.J. Tynan, who had 41 points a year ago. He was also named among USCHO.com’s 10 forwards to watch in 2012-13.
NEW IN NET, NOT A PROBLEM: Miami has used both of its freshmen goaltenders in each of the first three weekends this year.
- Jay Williams played all but five minutes in a weekend split at Michigan Oct. 26-27. He was forced into action Oct. 26 after classmate Ryan McKay was injured early in the game. Williams made a career-high 37 saves in Saturday’s (Oct. 27) 4-3 win, matching Miami’s season high for saves from last year.
- Williams made his first start Oct. 13 vs. Colgate and earned his first career win, giving up just one goal while making 20 saves.
- Williams boasts a 3-1-0 record with his .750 win percentage tying for 15th nationally.
- Ryan McKay got the nod on opening night vs. Colgate Oct. 12 and pitched a 24-save shutout, becoming the first Miami goalie to record a whitewash in his first career game.
- The shutout was Miami’s first season-opening shutout in program history.
- McKay made a career-high 37 saves Oct. 19 in a tie vs. Providence, matching Miami’s season high for saves from last year.
- McKay has allowed just one goal all year in three games and is third in the NCAA with both a 0.46 goals-against average and a .984 save percentage.
The freshmen duo is the first freshmen goalies to play since Connor Knapp and Cody Reichard did so as freshmen in 2008-09. Williams and McKay have big shoes to fill as Knapp and Reichard shared the starting goaltender position all four years and both finished in Miami’s career top four in goals-against average, save percentage, wins and shutouts with Knapp setting the career GAA and shutouts records.
SUPER SOPHOMORES: Miami’s sophomore class has picked up where they left off as freshmen, as the six second years have accounted for 10 of Miami’s 19 goals and 23 of the squad’s 48 points (47.9 percent) this year. Austin Czarnik has three goals and five assists while Blake Coleman has four goals and five points on the year. Alex Wideman has a goal and three points, Cody Murphy tallied a career-high three assists Oct. 13 and has a goal, and Jimmy Mullin has a goal and two assists. Last year as freshmen they scored 40.2 percent of the team’s goals (49 of 122) while at least one freshman scored a goal in 27 of Miami’s 41 games in 2011-12. A sophomore has scored in five of six games this year. Last year’s newcomers also accounted for 122 of Miami’s 323 points, or 37.8 percent. The entire class returns except for forward Tyler Biggs, who had nine goals and 17 points before deciding to turn pro. The seven returners on the team who aren’t sophomores combined for just 15 goals and 52 points in 2011-12.
DOMINANT DEFENSE: Although the RedHawks are tied for 21st nationally on offense, the defense has been Miami’s strength so far this season. Miami ranks 13th nationally, allowing 2.00 goals per game. Miami’s penalty kill is a big reason for the defense’s success, going a perfect 13-for-13 on the PK against Colgate Oct. 12-13, while it is 27-for-29 on the year (93.1 percent), which is seventh nationally. The only power play goals Miami has conceded came 5-on-3 on Oct. 19 against Providence and 5-on-4 Oct. 26 at Michigan.
FRESH FACES: Of the 11 freshmen on Miami’s 2012-13 roster, nine of them saw their first collegiate action Oct. 12-13 against Colgate (forwards Riley Barber, Alex Gacek, Sean Kuraly and Kevin Morris and defensemen Matthew Caito, Chris Joyaux and Taylor Richart) while defenseman Michael Mooney made his debut Oct. 20 vs. Providence. Goaltenders Ryan McKay and Jay Williams have both started three times this year and each earned their first win against Colgate. Six newcomers have notched their first point at Miami so far:
- Most recently, Gacek recorded his first career point, scoring the game-tying goal in a 4-3 win at Michigan Oct. 27.
- Morris dished out his first assist on Gacek’s goal and scored his first point on a goal Oct. 13 vs. Colgate in the second period, which turned out to be the game-winner.
- Barber also scored a goal Oct. 13 vs. Colgate on the power play in the third period for his first point. He totaled three points Oct. 20 vs. Providence, including his first two assists, and has two multi-point games this year.
- Joyaux had an assist on Miami’s final goal Oct. 13 for his first career point.
- Senior Marc Hagel, a transfer from Princeton, notched his first point as a RedHawk with an assist on Miami’s first goal of the season Oct. 12 vs. Colgate.
- Caito picked up his first career point on an assist Oct. 20 vs. Providence.
BLAKE MAKES IT AND TAKES IT: Sophomore forward Blake Coleman captured his first career CCHA Offensive Player of the Week honor Oct. 15 after a three-goal, four-point weekend against Colgate Oct. 12-13.
- Coleman tied a career high with two goals Oct. 12, his third-career multi-goal game.
- He then added a goal and an assist the next night giving him back-to-back multi-point games for the first time in his career. He now has seven multi-point games as a RedHawk.
- Coleman added another goal Oct. 20 vs. Providence and his four goals on the year are tied for second in the CCHA.
- He is Miami’s leading returning goal scorer after scoring 12 goals last year.
BONUS HOCKEY: Miami played its first two overtime games of the season against Providence Oct. 19-20, earning a tie Friday and a win in the extra session Saturday. Miami played seven overtime games last year and went 1-4-2 but the ‘Hawks are already 1-0-1 in OT this year. The last time Miami played back-to-back overtime games in the same weekend was Jan. 28-29, 2011 against Notre Dame, both of which ended in ties.
POLLING AROUND: Coming off a weekend split, the RedHawks moved back one spot to No. 4 in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and the USCHO.com Poll for week four after ranking third last week. The RedHawks started the year No. 9 in both the USCHO and USA Today Preseason Polls. The No. 3 ranking last week was Miami’s highest since being preseason No. 1 in the USA Today Poll to start last year and its highest ranking during the season since being No. 1 Nov. 1, 2010. The complete national polls can be found below.
CLASSY SENIORS: Miami’s senior class has compiled 80 career wins, which already ranks ninth in program history. The class has been a part of a Frozen Four team as freshmen when they also won a CCHA regular-season title and helped the RedHawks win their first ever Mason Cup (CCHA Tournament title) as sophomores. The class of Joe Hartman, Garrett Kennedy, Steve Mason, Curtis McKenzie and Steven Spinell has been to the NCAA Tournament all three years, as well.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Miami’s lone freshman from Ohio is Sean Kuraly, the son of Rick Kuraly, who is Miami’s all-time leading goal scorer with 101 goals from 1979-83 and ranks third in career points (179). Sean is the first son of a former Miami player to suit up for the RedHawks. The younger Kuraly was taken in the fifth round (133rd overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks.
MIAMI TO HOST NCAA REGIONAL: The NCAA announced on Nov. 1 that Miami has been selected to host the 2014 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Midwest Regional Championship. The regional will take place at U.S. Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati March 28-29, 2014. Miami is hosting the regional in conjunction with U.S. Bank Arena and the Greater Cincinnati Sports Corp. Miami and U.S. Bank Arena, then Riverfront Coliseum, also hosted the 1996 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Frozen Four.