After opening CCHA play with a four-game roadtrip, No. 5/5 Miami returns to Steve Cady Arena Friday and Saturday, hosting No. 16 Northern Michigan in its first home CCHA series of the season. Puck drop Friday is at 7:35 p.m. while Saturday starts at 7:05 p.m. The RedHawks are 3-0-1 at home this season while NMU went 1-1 at Nebraska-Omaha in its only true road series this year.
Miami (5-2-1, 2-2-0-0 CCHA) is coming off its second straight CCHA split on the road, falling 3-0 at Ferris State last Friday before rebounding with a 4-2 victory the next night. Friday’s shutout marked the first time the RedHawks had been blanked in 17 games dating back to last year. Two of FSU’s three goals came on the power play. Saturday, Miami was led by two goals from sophomore Austin Czarnik, while freshmen Kevin Morris and Sean Kuraly added the others. Czarnik is tied with freshman Riley Barber for the team lead with 10 points while Barber has a team-high six assists, including two in Saturday’s win. Freshman goaltender Jay Williams started both games at FSU and has started three straight while classmate Ryan McKay recovers from an injury.
The Wildcats (4-3-1, 1-2-1-0 CCHA) come to Oxford after tying and beating Michigan in Marquette last weekend. NMU held a three-goal lead in the third period Friday but Michigan rallied to earn a 4-4 tie and went on to win the shootout. Saturday, the Wildcats again led 4-1 in the third period but held on for the 4-3 win. Freshman Cohen Adair was named CCHA Rookie of the Week after two goals and an assist in the series while his five goals pace NMU. Senior Matt Thurber leads the CCHA with 11 points and 10 assists, including five helpers against Michigan. Netminder Jared Coreau has started all eight games for NMU and has a 2.94 GAA and .903 save percentage.
Miami is 20-34-3 all-time against Northern Michigan, including going 1-3-0 against the Wildcats last year. The RedHawks are 11-13-2 against NMU in Oxford, with the teams splitting in Oxford last year. NMU won Friday, 2-1, but Miami rebounded for a 6-0 win the next night. Head coach Enrico Blasi is 17-19-1 against the Wildcats as Miami’s head coach.
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 291-186-49 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.
Walt Kyle (Northern Michigan `81) is in his 11th season at the helm of the Wildcats where he has compiled a 197-170-46 record at his alma mater. He led Northern Michigan to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2010, its first under Kyle and the program’s first since 1999, and has guided the Wildcats to the CCHA Tournament’s Final Four in Detroit, Mich. in seven of his 10 years.
• Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik has two multi-goal games this year after notching just one as a freshman. He has a point in six of eight games this year and three multi-point games. His five goals and 10 points lead the team and are tied for second in the CCHA.
• Freshman forward Riley Barber, who was named HCA National Rookie of the Month for October, is also tied for the team lead and second in the CCHA with 10 points while his six assists tie for second in the CCHA. His 10 points are the most of any rookie in the NCAA.
• Miami is just 1-2-1 in Friday games this year and has been outscored, 8-6. On Saturday, however, the RedHawks are 4-0-0, having outscored their opponents, 17-9, in those games.
• On the year, Miami’s freshmen and sophomores have combined to score 20 of the team’s 23 goals (87.0 percent) with sophomores tallying 12 of them (52.2 percent). The underclassmen have also accounted for 43 of the team’s 58 points (74.1 percent).
• Miami is 5-0-0 this year when scoring three or more goals but 0-2-1 when scoring under three.
Miami remains at home next weekend, hosting Michigan State in a two-game CCHA series Friday and Saturday at Steve Cady Arena. Game times are 7:35 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
Both games this weekend will be streamed live on MURedHawks.com in HD through the Miami All-Access subscription package with Dave Allen calling the play-by-play. The games will not be televised but both contests will air on radio on WKBV-AM 1490 out of Richmond, Ind. with the Voice of Miami Hockey, Greg Waddell, calling the action.
THE BARBER SHOP: Freshman forward Riley Barber has had a stellar start to his collegiate career, already picking up a national award and two awards from the CCHA.
- He was named Hockey Commissioners’ Association (HCA) National Rookie of the Month and CCHA Rookie of the Month for October after posting a 4-4-8 line in six games during the month.
- His 10 points on the year are the most among rookies in the NCAA while his six assists tie for the most among freshmen. His 1.25 points per game are fourth among NCAA freshmen. He is tied for the team lead with 10 points, which ties for second in the CCHA, as do his team-leading six assists.
- He has a point in six of eight games this year and had a five-game point streak from Oct. 13 to Oct. 27.
- 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. He now has three multi-point games this season.
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. He continued his tear with two goals against Ferris State to start November.
- His 10 points tie for the team lead with freshman Riley Barber and tie for second in the CCHA while his five goals are tops on the team and also tie for second in the CCHA.
- Czarnik, who had a four-game point streak from Oct. 19-27, has a point in six of eight games this year, including three multi-point games. He already has two multi-goal games this year after recording just one last year as a freshman.
Czarnik was a CCHA All-Rookie Team member a year ago 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.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Freshman forward Sean Kuraly scored his first career goal Nov. 3 at Ferris State on the power play. Kuraly needs only 100 more goals to catch his father, 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.
NEW IN NET, NOT A PROBLEM: Miami has used both of its freshmen goaltenders early in the season. Jay Williams has started five games, including each of the last three, while Ryan McKay has started three games but has been sidelined by an injury of late.
- Williams played both games at Ferris State Nov. 2-3 and all but five minutes in a weekend split at Michigan Oct. 26-27. He was forced into action Oct. 26 after McKay was injured early in the game. Williams made a career-high 37 saves in a 4-3 win at Michigan Oct. 27, matching Miami’s season high for saves from last year.
- Williams boasts a 4-2-0 record with his .667 win percentage tying for 19th nationally while his 162 saves are third among CCHA netminders despite only playing six games.
- Williams made his first start Oct. 13 vs. Colgate and earned his first career win, giving up just one goal while making 20 saves.
- 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 boasts a 0.46 goals-against average and a .984 save percentage, both of which would be first in the NCAA if he had played enough games to be eligible for NCAA statistics.
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 12 of Miami’s 23 goals (52.2 percent) and 25 of the squad’s 58 points (43.1 percent) this year. Austin Czarnik has five 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 six of eight 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 have scored at least four goals four times this year, the defense has been Miami’s strength so far this season. Miami is tied for 12th nationally, allowing 2.12 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 37-for-42 on the year (88.1 percent), which is 16th nationally. Miami had allowed just two power play goals through the first six games, coming 5-on-3 on Oct. 19 against Providence and 5-on-4 Oct. 26 at Michigan, before giving up three power play goals at Ferris State Nov. 2-3.
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 split time this year and each earned their first win against Colgate. Seven newcomers have notched their first point at Miami so far:
- Most recently, Kuraly logged his first point on a goal Nov. 3 at Ferris State on the power play.
- Gacek recorded his first career point on 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 three 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 fifth 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 for the second straight week to No. 5 in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and the USCHO.com Poll for week five after ranking fourth last week. Miami has now been in the top five each of the last four weeks. The RedHawks started the year No. 9 in both the USCHO and USA Today Preseason Polls. The RedHawks were ranked as high as No. 3 in the Oct. 22 poll, which was Miami’s highest ranking 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 are on page 4.
CLASSY SENIORS: Miami’s senior class has compiled 81 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.
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.
CELEBRATE THE LEGACY: The 2012-13 season will be Miami’s 32nd and final season in the CCHA, as the conference will close its doors following the year. The CCHA is Miami’s first and only conference since making hockey a varsity sport in 1978, as Miami joined the league for the 1981-82 season. Miami has won three regular-season titles and one Mason Cup (2011) in its time in the CCHA. In honor of the CCHA’s final season, the league is promoting a “Celebrate the Legacy” campaign, which includes attempting to locate and bring back all former Mason Cup winners to Joe Louis Arena for the final CCHA Championship March 23-24, 2013. Starting in 2013-14, the RedHawks will play in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), of which Miami was a founding member. Also joining Miami as a founding member of the NCHC was Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska Omaha and North Dakota. St. Cloud State and Western Michigan, who is currently in the CCHA, have since joined “The National,” creating an eight-team league. Five of the eight NCHC teams earned a berth in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.