Wrapping up a four-game homestand, No. 4 Miami hosts Michigan State for a two-game CCHA series Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16-17, at Steve Cady Arena. Puck drop Friday is set for 7:35 p.m. while Saturday's contest starts at 7:05 p.m. This weekend's meetings are the only regular-season contests between the RedHawks and Spartans.
Miami (6-2-2, 3-2-1-1 CCHA) enters the weekend riding a three-game unbeaten streak and sits in first place in the CCHA. The RedHawks won and tied Northern Michigan at home last weekend, topping the Wildcats 5-2 on Friday before skating to a 2- 2 tie Saturday with Miami winning the shootout for the extra point in the standings. On Friday, the 'Hawks scored three power play goals and got a goal and two assists each from sophomore Austin Czarnik and freshman Riley Barber. Saturday, sophomore Alex Wideman tied the game with less than three minutes remaining to force overtime and then scored the shootout-winning goal in the third round. Barber leads the CCHA with 14 points, including a team-high nine assists, while Czarnik has 13 points and a team-best six goals. Freshman Jay Williams started both games in goal against NMU, and has started five straight games, while he has compiled a 2.50 GAA and .911 save percentage on the year.
The Spartans (4-5-1, 3-3-0-0 CCHA) come to Oxford in a logjam tie for third in the CCHA. MSU has split all three of its CCHA series so far, losing each Friday before rebounding to win Saturday. Last weekend, the Spartans fell at Michigan, 5-1, but turned around to defeat the Wolverines, 7-2, the next night in East Lansing behind Matt Berry's four-point night, including a hat trick. He was named CCHA Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts and leads MSU with six goals and 11 points. Matt DeBlouw has 10 points and a team-high-tying six assists. In the last three Fridays, MSU has been outscored, 9-3, but on Saturday the last three weeks has outscored foes, 17-5.
Miami is 31-68-5 all-time against Michigan State, with the RedHawks winning all four games against MSU last year and a program-best five straight in the series, including two quarterfinal matchups in the CCHA Tournament. In Oxford, the Spartans hold a 29-14-3 edge, including last year's CCHA Tournament games. The teams have split each of the last five regular-season series in Oxford dating back to 2003-04. Head coach Enrico Blasi is 19-20-0 against MSU at Miami.
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 292-186-50 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.
Tom Anastos (Michigan State '87) is in his second season at the helm of Michigan State, leading his alma mater to a 23-21-5 record. In his first year, he guided the Spartans to a fifth-place finish in the CCHA and an NCAA Tournament appearance. Prior to taking over at MSU, he served as commissioner of the CCHA for 13 years, overseeing the conference in which he now coaches. He previously coached the Spartans as an assistant from 1990-92 and played for MSU from 1981-85.
- Freshman forward Riley Barber was named CCHA Rookie of the Week for the second time this year after his four-point weekend against Northern Michigan. His 14 points this year lead all NCAA rookies and all CCHA players. He has a point in eight of 10 games this season.
- Miami is 6-0-0 this year when scoring at least three goals while the RedHawks are 0-2-2 when scoring less than three goals this season.
- Underclassmen have accounted for 26 of Miami's 30 goals (86.7 percent) and 59 of 76 points this year (77.6 percent). Sophomore Austin Czarnik and Barber alone account for 35.5 percent of Miami's points (27 of 76) and 36.7 percent of the team's goals (11 of 30).
The RedHawks are off next weekend before making the long trek to face Alaska Nov. 30-Dec. 1 for a two-game CCHA series in Fairbanks. Puck drop both nights is 11:05 p.m. ET (7:05 p.m. local).
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.
HOME SWEET HOME: Miami has enjoyed great success playing at home this year, going 4-0-2 at Steve Cady Arena, compared to 2-2-0 on the road. In six home games this season, the RedHawks have outscored the opposition, 20-9, averaging 3.33 goals per game. In four road contests, Miami is averaging just 2.50 goals per game and has been outscored, 12-10.
CZARNIK IS SHORT-HANDED: Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik has three short-handed goals this year, which is first in the country by himself, with all of them coming in the last six games. In fact, only three other players in the NCAA have two short-handed goals this season so far. Half of Czarnik's six goals this year have come a man down. He now already has five career short-handed goals, which ties him for fifth in school history.
POWER PLAYING BETTER: Miami's power play has shown tremendous improvement as of late, going 4-for-12 last weekend against Northern Michigan on the man advantage with four of the team's seven goals vs. NMU coming on the power play. Over Miami's first seven games this year, the RedHawks were 5-for-32 (15.6 percent) on the power play while they have gone 5-for-17 (29.4 percent) in their last three games.
THE BARBER SHOP: Freshman forward Riley Barber has had a stellar start to his collegiate career, already picking up a national award and three awards from the CCHA.
- Barber was named CCHA Rookie of the Week for the second time this year on Nov. 12 after a four-point weekend against Northern Michigan Nov. 9-10 with a goal and three assists.
- 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 14 points lead the CCHA and are first nationally among rookies. His nine assists are tops on the team and second in the CCHA.
- He has a point in eight of 10 games this year and had a five-game point streak from Oct. 13 to Oct. 27.
- On Oct. 20 Barber recorded a career-high three points, his first multi-point game, including his first two career assists. He tallied another three-point game Nov. 9 vs. NMU (one goal, two assists). Barber now has four multi-point games this season.
- 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.
- 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 13 points are second on the team and tie for second in the CCHA while his six 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 seven of 10 games this year, including four multi-point games. He already has two multi-goal games this year after recording just one last year as a freshman.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Freshman forward Sean Kuraly scored his first career goal Nov. 3 at Ferris State on the power play. After not scoring his first seven games, he then scored for the second time in three games Nov. 10 vs. NMU with both of his goals coming on the power play. Kuraly needs only 99 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.
SUPER SOPHOMORES: Miami's sophomore class has picked up where they left off as freshmen, as the six second years have accounted for 15 of Miami's 30 goals (50.0 percent) and 34 of the squad's 76 points (44.7 percent) this year. Austin Czarnik has six goals and seven assists while Blake Coleman has four goals and six points on the year. Alex Wideman has two goals and five points, Cody Murphy tallied a career-high three assists Oct. 13 and has six points, and Jimmy Mullin has a goal and three 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 eight of 10 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.
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:
- Caito scored his first career goal Nov. 9 vs. NMU and added an assist for his first multi-point game. He picked up his first career point on an assist Oct. 20 vs. Providence.
- 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.
- The RedHawks played Northern Michigan to a 2-2 overtime tie Nov. 10 and went on to win the shootout. It was Miami's first official shootout this year and first since Nov. 19, 2011 against Bowling Green, which Miami lost. The RedHawks went 1-1 in shootouts last year, as the shootout win Nov. 10 was Miami's first CCHA shootout win since Nov. 12, 2011 against Michigan.
- 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. 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.
- Miami played seven overtime games last year and went 1-4-2 but the 'Hawks are already 1-0-2 in OT this year.
- Williams has played every minute the last four games 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 5-2-1 record with his .688 win percentage tying for 14th nationally while his 205 saves are third among CCHA netminders.
- 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.
POLLING AROUND: Coming off a win and a tie, the RedHawks moved up one spot to No. 4 in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and the USCHO.com Poll for week six after ranking fifth last week. Miami has now been in the top five each of the last five 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 82 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.