Looking to snap a season-long three-game winless streak, No. 8/8 Miami steps out of league play for a two-game series at WCHA foe Wisconsin Friday and Saturday, Jan. 18-19. The contests are the final non-conference games of the regular season for the RedHawks. The games are also the seventh and eighth consecutive contests away from Oxford for Miami. Puck drop Friday is set for 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT while Saturday's game begins at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT, both at the Kohl Center.
Miami (12-5-5, 8-4-4-4 CCHA), which rests in second place in the CCHA, is coming off a loss and a tie at Northern Michigan last weekend. On Friday, the RedHawks dropped a 2-1 decision despite holding a 44-24 edge in shots, giving Miami its first back-to-back losses of the year. Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik scored the game's first goal for Miami in the second period but NMU answered three minutes later and tallied the game-winner early in the third frame. The loss snapped freshman goaltender Jay Williams' nine-game unbeaten streak in net. On Saturday, the 'Hawks fell behind 2-0 before scoring three unanswered goals, including the go-ahead goal with less than five minutes remaining in regulation, only to have the Wildcats score a short-handed goal -- the first allowed all year by Miami -- late to force a 3-3 overtime tie. Freshman defenseman Matthew Caito scored two goals in the draw, his first multi-goal game, while sophomore forward Jimmy Mullin tallied the lone shootout goal in round five to earn an extra point for the RedHawks in the standings. Fellow rookie netminder Ryan McKay, who carries a 0.97 GAA and .963 save percentage, allowed more than one goal in a game for the first time in his Miami career (eight starts) in the tie. Czarnik leads the team and the CCHA with 25 points, while his 17 assists tie for the CCHA lead. Freshman forward Riley Barber is second in the CCHA with 24 points, including a team-best nine goals after a goal and an assist against NMU.
Wisconsin (8-7-5, 6-5-5 WCHA), which is tied for sixth in the WCHA, is one of the hottest teams in the country, riding a 10-game unbeaten streak (second longest in the country) and a six-game winning streak into the weekend. The Badgers are coming off a pair of overtime wins at then-No. 11 Minnesota State, winning 4-3 Friday and 2-1 on Saturday. Friday's contest was a back-and-forth affair as each time UW scored, MSU answered back until senior captain John Ramage scored with 32 seconds left in overtime. Saturday, Ramage was the hero again, breaking a 1-1 tie with just six seconds left in overtime as his second goal of the weekend gave UW a sweep. Junior forward Michael Mersch leads the Badgers with 17 points, including a team-best 12 goals, while senior forward Derek Lee is second with 16 points, including a team-high 13 assists.
The RedHawks and Badgers have met just twice previously with Wisconsin winning both games. The teams last met during the first round of the 1993 NCAA Tournament in Detroit, Mich., a 3-1 UW win. Head coach Enrico Blasi was a player on Miami's team in the NCAA Tournament game against Wisconsin. The only meeting at Wisconsin came on Oct. 20, 1979, a 3-2 Badger win.
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 298-189-53 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.
Mike Eaves (Wisconsin '78) is in his 11th season at the helm of the Badgers where he has compiled a 217-163-49 record at his alma mater. He led Wisconsin to the 2006 NCAA Championship and the 2010 NCAA title game while the Badgers have earned five NCAA Tournament berths under Eaves' watch. As a player at Wisconsin, he finished his career as the program's all-time leading point-scorer with 267.
- Head coach Enrico Blasi, who carries a career record of 298-189-53, needs two wins to become the first hockey coach to earn 300 wins at Miami.
- Miami's defense ranks second in the country, allowing just 1.64 goals per game. The three goals allowed in Saturday's 3-3 tie with Northern Michigan snapped a streak of 14 straight games in which the RedHawks had allowed two goals or less, dating back to Nov. 2. The game also marked the first time Miami was not victorious when scoring at least three goals this year (10-0-1).
- Freshman forward Riley Barber, who helped Team USA win gold at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship Jan. 5 along with classmate Sean Kuraly, leads all freshmen nationally with his 24 points. His 1.20 points per game tie for 16th in the NCAA among all players.
- Miami's top line of senior Curtis McKenzie, sophomore Austin Czarnik and freshman Riley Barber has accounted for 23 of Miami's 55 goals on the year (41.8 percent) and 63 of the team's 142 points on the season (44.4 percent).
After a month and a half away from home, Miami finally returns to Steve Cady Arena and resumes CCHA action by hosting Bowling Green Friday and Saturday, Jan. 25-26. Puck drop is set for 7:35 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
Both games this weekend will be televised. Friday's contest will air on the Big Ten Network (DirecTV - 610, DISH - 439, TWC - 57/1333 HD) with Dan Kelly handling play-by-play, Rob Andringa providing color commentary and Jay Wilson serving as the rinkside reporter. Saturday's game is scheduled for Fox Sports Wisconsin+ (DirecTV - 685/685-1 HD, DISH - 446/9516 HD). Both games will also be on radio with Friday's game on WKBV-AM 1490 out of Richmond, Ind. and Saturday's game on both WKBV-AM and WMOH-AM 1450 out of Hamilton, Ohio. The "Voice of Miami Hockey" Greg Waddell will have the call both nights while the audio broadcast will also be available on MURedHawks.com through the Miami All-Access subscription package.
CLOSE CONTESTS: After only two of Miami's first 14 games were decided by one goal, five of the RedHawks' last eight contests have been one-goal games. Miami is 4-3 in one-goal contests this year, but has won just one of the last four after winning each of its first three one-goal games. The RedHawks first played back-to-back one-goal games Dec. 7-8 against Lake Superior State, splitting the games, including a1-0 loss on Saturday, which was their first loss in a one-goal game this year. The 'Hawks lost to Northern Michigan (2-1) Jan. 11 and Robert Morris (1-0) Dec. 29 after beating Ohio State (1-0) Dec. 28. Miami's first one-goal games were a win over Providence, 4-3, in overtime Oct. 20 and a win at Michigan, 4-3, Oct. 27. A key to close games has been scoring first, which Miami has done in 13 of 22 games this year, going 10-2-1 in such contests.
A VARIETY OF COMPETITION: With its games against WCHA foe Wisconsin this weekend, Miami will complete its non-conference slate for 2012-13. After playing Robert Morris out of the Atlantic Hockey Association in the Three Rivers Classic championship game Dec. 29, Miami is assured of playing one team from each of the other four conferences in Division I during the regular season. The RedHawks opened the season with home series' against Colgate of the ECAC and Providence of Hockey East. Miami is 4-1-1 in non-conference action this year with the lone loss coming to RMU.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Miami's strength this year has been its defense, as the RedHawks rank second nationally, allowing just 1.64 goals per game. The RedHawks had limited the opposition to two goals or less in 14 straight games until Northern Michigan scored three times Jan. 12, as Miami went 8-3-3 during that stretch, including three shutouts (Nov. 17 vs. Michigan State, Dec. 1 at Alaska and Dec. 28 vs. Ohio State). Prior to NMU, Miami had last given up more than two goals Nov. 2 in a 3-0 loss at Ferris State. Miami has a total of four shutouts on the season, also blanking Colgate Oct. 12 to open the season, while Miami has limited the opposition to two goals or less in 17 of 22 games this year. Freshmen goaltender Jay Williams earned his first shutout against MSU and picked up another vs. OSU while classmate Ryan McKay blanked Alaska in his first game back from injury and also pitched the shutout against Colgate for his first career shutout.
GOLDEN BOYS: Freshman forwards Riley Barber and Sean Kuraly became the first RedHawks to win a gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship (WJC) as the duo helped the U.S. National Junior Team win the under-20 tournament in Ufa, Russia, held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. The freshmen became the sixth and seventh RedHawks to compete at the WJC and the first RedHawks to win any medal at the WJC since goaltender Jeff Zatkoff won a bronze with the U.S. in 2007. Barber finished with six points in seven games on three goals and assists each while Kuraly tallied three points on a goal and two assists while posting a +4 rating. The gold medal for the U.S. was just the country's third in the nearly 40-year history of the tournament.
NOT SO SHORT-HANDED: Miami has six short-handed goals on the year, which ties with Nebraska Omaha for the most in the country. Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik, who has a total of eight goals on the year, has tallied three of them short-handed, which is tied for first in the country, with all of them coming in a five-game stretch from Oct. 26 to Nov. 9. He now already has five career short-handed goals, which ties him for fifth in school history. Sophomore forward Cody Murphy, freshman forward Riley Barber and redshirt senior forward Marc Hagel each have one shorty this year.
PK A-OK: Miami had killed 18 straight opponent power plays dating back to Dec. 8 against Lake Superior until allowing a power play goal to Northern Michigan Jan. 11. The RedHawks went 6-for-6 on the PK Jan. 12 vs. NMU, however, and have killed 25 of their opponents' last 26 power plays. Against Ohio State Dec. 14-15, Miami killed all nine OSU power plays while going 7-for-7 on the PK at the Three Rivers Classic Dec. 28-29, including a pair of 5-on-3 kills against Robert Morris. Miami has been perfect on the penalty kill in 12 of the team's 22 games this year. The 'Hawks rank eighth nationally and second in the CCHA on the PK, killing 88.5 percent of their penalties, while their 92 kills (out of 104 power plays) are third-most in the country.
NEW IN NET, NOT A PROBLEM: Miami has used both of its freshman goaltenders so far this season. Jay Williams has started 14 games, including eight straight from Oct. 27 to Nov. 30, while Ryan McKay has started eight games, including his first game back from injury Dec. 1 at Alaska. Both have already earned awards for their play, as well.
- After posting a 0.76 GAA and .970 save percentage in four starts in December, McKay was named both CCHA Goaltender of the Month and Hockey Commissioners' Association National Rookie of the Month, his first awards at Miami. He allowed just three goals while pitching a shutout during the month.
- McKay's three goals allowed Jan. 12 at Northern Michigan marked the first time in eight starts he has allowed more than one goal in a game. Even still, he has allowed just seven goals all year, including two on the power play (one 5-on-3). He boasts a 0.97 goals-against average and a .963 save percentage, both of which would be first in the NCAA if he had played enough minutes to be eligible for NCAA statistics.
- In his first game back in net after being injured Oct. 26 at Michigan, McKay showed no signs of rust, stopping all 26 shots against the Alaska Nanooks for his second career shutout in just four games.
- McKay got the nod on opening night vs. Colgate Oct. 12 and pitched his first shutout, making 24 saves to become 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.
- Williams boasts a 9-3-3 record, while his nine-game unbeaten streak (6-0-3) was snapped with a 2-1 loss at Northern Michigan Jan. 11. However, he still has not allowed more than two goals in any of his last 10 starts. His .700 win percentage ties for 10th nationally while his 1.91 GAA is fifth in the CCHA and 13th nationally.
- Williams pitched his second career shutout Dec. 28 against Ohio State in the opening round of the Three Rivers Classic, making 29 saves, including two breakaways. His strong play kept Miami in the game and allowed the RedHawks to win, 1-0.
- Williams stopped all three shootout attempts by Ohio State Dec. 14 after a 1-1 tie and is 7-for-7 on the year in CCHA shootout attempts, as he is yet to concede a goal in three shootouts.
- Williams was named CCHA Rookie of the Week following the Michigan State series Nov. 16-17. He allowed just two goals all weekend, pitching his first career shutout in the 2-0 win Nov. 17. He also stopped both shootout attempts by MSU Nov. 16 as Miami won the shootout. Williams stopped 32 of 34 shots for a .941 save percentage and 0.96 GAA.
- Williams had played in 10 straight games after he was forced into action Oct. 26 when McKay was injured early in the game before giving way to McKay's return Dec. 1. 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 made his first start Oct. 13 vs. Colgate and earned his first career win, giving up just one goal while making 20 saves.
The freshman duo replaces Connor Knapp and Cody Reichard, who shared the starting goaltender position the last 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.
THE BARBER SHOP: Freshman forward Riley Barber has had a stellar start to his collegiate career, already picking up a national award and five awards from the CCHA.
- Barber's 24 points are second in the CCHA behind sophomore teammate Austin Czarnik and are first nationally among rookies, while his 1.20 ppg tie for 16th in the NCAA among all players. His 15 assists are third in the CCHA while he has a team-high nine goals.
- He has a point in 15 of his 20 games this year and had a five-game point streak from Oct. 13 to Oct. 27. He has seven multi-point games this year and three multi-assist games, as well.
- Barber earned his third CCHA Gongshow® Rookie of the Week honor Dec. 17 after tallying three points at Ohio State Dec. 14-15. He earned two primary assists, one each night, and added an empty-net goal Dec. 15 to seal the win.
- On Dec. 4, Barber was named CCHA Gongshow® Rookie of the Month for November, his second straight month winning the award. He tallied nine points, including seven assists, in seven games during November. He notched his first career game-winning goal Nov. 30 at Alaska, as well.
- 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.
- 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 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.
TOP TRIO: Miami's top forward line of senior Curtis McKenzie, sophomore Austin Czarnik and freshman Riley Barber have been powering Miami's offense as they are the top three point-scorers on the team. The trio has combined for 23 of Miami's 55 goals on the year (41.8 percent) and 63 of the team's 142 points (44.4 percent). Czarnik (8 goals, 25 points) and Barber (9 goals, 24 points) are the top two point-scorers in the CCHA while McKenzie's 13 points are third on the team. Barber's nine goals are tops on the team while Czarnik's 17 assists are a team best. McKenzie's six goals and eight assists are both third on the team.
MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER: The RedHawks fired 44 shots on goal Jan. 11 in a 2-1 loss to Northern Michigan, its fourth-highest shot total of the season and the fifth time this year Miami has topped 40 shots on goal. The 'Hawks are just 2-3-0 when putting 40 or more shots on target, however, losing each of the last three times it has happened. Miami put a season-high 51 shots on net Dec. 29 against Robert Morris, a 1-0 defeat, and 46 on target in a 1-0 loss to Lake Superior State Dec. 8. On the flip side, Miami is 10-2-5 when taking less than 40 shots this year. The RedHawks held NMU to just 24 shots Jan. 11 but suffered their second loss when limiting the opposition to less than 30 shots on goal as Miami is now 10-2-3 this year when holding opponents to less than 30 shots on goal.
UNDERCLASSMAN ON TOP: 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's 25 points lead the CCHA, while his 17 assists are tied for the CCHA lead. His eight goals are second on the team behind freshman teammate Riley Barber and tie for 10th in the CCHA.
- Czarnik, who had a four-game point streak from Oct. 19-27, has a point in 14 of 22 games this year, including eight multi-point games. He already has two multi-goal games this year after recording just one last year as a freshman.
- Czarnik was named CCHA Postgame® Offensive Player of the Week Dec. 3 after totaling five points on a goal and four assists in a sweep of Alaska Nov. 30-Dec. 1. It was his first time winning the award.
- He earned CCHA Player of the Month for October on Nov. 1 after posting a 3-5-8 scoring line in six games. It was his first such honor though he was named CCHA Rookie of the Month last year in November.
SUPER SOPHOMORES: Miami's sophomore class has picked up where they left off as freshmen, as the six second years have accounted for 24 of Miami's 55 goals (43.6 percent) and 61 of the squad's 142 points (43.0 percent) this year. Austin Czarnik is second on the team with eight goals and leads the team with 17 assists while Alex Wideman has five goals and eight points and Cody Murphy has six assists, including a career-high three assists Oct. 13, and 10 points. Blake Coleman has five goals and nine points on the year, Jimmy Mullin has two goals and six assists and defenseman Ben Paulides has one helper. 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 a goal in 14 of 22 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 after last year. The seven returners on the team who aren't sophomores combined for just 15 goals and 52 points in 2011-12.
BONUS HOCKEY: Miami has already played in six overtime games this year, going 1-0-5 in those contests. The RedHawks played seven overtime games last year and went 1-4-2.
- Miami's last two extra-session games have come on the road, including Jan. 12 at Northern Michigan -- a 3-3 tie. The first came at Ohio State, Dec. 14, which was a 1-1 tie. The RedHawks won both shootouts, 1-0. Sophomore Austin Czarnik scored against OSU while classmate Jimmy Mullin scored in the fifth round (Miami's longest shootout of the year) against NMU. Miami is 4-0 in CCHA shootouts this year and 6-of-14 in CCHA shootout attempts while opponents are 0-for-12.
- The RedHawks also played Northern Michigan to a 2-2 overtime tie Nov. 10 in Oxford and went on to win the shootout with sophomore Alex Wideman scoring the clinching goal. It was Miami's first official shootout this year and first since Nov. 19, 2011 against Bowling Green, which Miami lost, one of just two shootouts last year (1-1).
- Miami also won a shootout against Michigan State Nov. 16 this year after a 2-2 overtime tie with Wideman again scoring the clinching goal.
- 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 won an unofficial shootout vs. Providence on Oct. 19, 2-0.
FIRST-PERIOD WOES: Miami has struggled to score in the first period as of late. The RedHawks have not scored a first-period goal in eight of their last nine games and none in their last four contests. Miami has allowed just three first-period goals in that time as the 'Hawks have been outscored, 3-1, in the first period over its last nine games. The RedHawks have not allowed more than one goal in the first period in those nine games, however, and has conceded more than one first-period goal just once all year. Five of Miami's last nine games have been scoreless after the first 20 minutes. On the year, Miami has scored 20 goals in both the second and third periods but just 14 in the first, while giving up 13.
POLLING AROUND: Miami is No. 8 in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and the USCHO.com Poll for week 14 after ranking sixth last week. The RedHawks started the year No. 9 in both the USCHO and USA Today Preseason Polls. The RedHawks have been as high as No. 3 twice, 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.