Making its final CCHA road trip in program history, the No. 3/3 Miami hockey team returns to the upper peninsula of Michigan for a two-game series against Lake Superior State Friday and Saturday, Jan. 22-23 at Taffy Abel Arena. Puck drop Friday is at 7:35 p.m. while Saturday's contest begins at 7:05 p.m. The two sides split a pair of games in Oxford earlier this season with Miami winning, 3-2, Dec. 7 and LSSU shutting out the RedHawks, 1-0, Dec. 8. In Miami's win Dec. 7, the Lakers struck first on the power play but Miami rallied with three straight goals from freshman forwards Kevin Morris, Sean Kuraly and Riley Barber before LSSU added another power play goal. In the loss the next night, Lake Superior scored the game's lone goal in the first period, again on the man advantage, and junior Kevin Murdock stopped all 46 shots he faced to hand Miami the loss.
The RedHawks (19-8-5, 14-6-4-4 CCHA) head to Sault Ste. Marie having split their last two weekend series' against the second- and third-place teams in the CCHA in then-No. 6 Western Michigan and then-No. 12 Notre Dame, respectively. Miami, which sits in first place in the CCHA, is two points ahead of WMU and three ahead of the Irish while already having clinched a first-round bye in the upcoming CCHA Playoffs and home ice for the second round. Last weekend, the 'Hawks defeated Notre Dame, 3-1, in Oxford on Friday, getting two goals 30 seconds apart in the second period to break open a scoreless game. On Sunday, Miami made history, playing in its first outdoor game in program history at Soldier Field in Chicago in the OfficeMax® Hockey City Classic. The RedHawks fell behind, 2-0, to UND, before Morris scored Miami's lone goal in the 2-1 loss. Barber and sophomore forward Austin Czarnik share the CCHA lead with 31 points this year while Czarnik has a team-high 20 assists and Barber has a team-best 12 goals.
The Lakers (15-16-1, 10-13-1-1 CCHA), who sit in seventh place in the CCHA, are 12-5-0 at home this season. After losing four straight road games, LSSU swept Alaska at home last weekend, 5-1 and 4-2. In Friday's game, Lake Superior scored twice in the first 1:07. Senior forward Domenic Monardo, who leads LSSU with 16 goals and 27 points this year, was named CCHA Offensive Player of the Week after his three-goal weekend vs. Alaska while junior Matt Bruneteau, who tallied three points vs. Alaska, was tabbed CCHA Defenseman of the Week. Murdock (2.32 GAA, .934 save percentage) was in net Friday and earned CCHA Goaltender of the Week while classmate Kevin Kapalka (2.94 GAA, .915 save percentage) played Saturday. Senior forward Nick McParland has a team-high 14 assists and is second on the squad with 20 points.
Miami is 39-58-11 all-time against Lake Superior since 1979, including splitting two games in Oxford earlier this year. Miami is just 11-35-4 vs. LSSU in Sault Ste. Marie, but is 8-4-0 in its last 12 games there. Miami has also had recent success overall against LSSU, going 11-4-1 vs. the Lakers since 2007-08.
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 305-192-53 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.
Jim Roque (Lake Superior '87) is in his eighth season at the helm of the Lakers where he has compiled a 118-141-45 record. He was twice previously an assistant coach at his alma mater from 1988-91 and during the 1994-95 season before returning in 2001 as an assistant where he stayed until becoming the head coach. He led the Lakers to their first winning season in seven years in his first year in charge and helped LSSU earn a berth in the CCHA Tournament semifinals in 2006-07.
- Miami sits on 19 wins for the season. With one win against LSSU, Miami would earn its 20th win of the season, which would mark its eighth straight 20-win season. Prior to this stretch, Miami had never posted 20-win seasons in more than two straight years.
- Miami has allowed two goals or less in 10 straight games and 24 of their last 25 contests, while conceding just a goal or less in seven of its last 10 contests. The RedHawks rank first nationally giving up just 1.50 goals per game.
- The RedHawks have successfully killed 17 straight opponent power plays dating back to Feb. 8. Miami ranks first in the CCHA and fourth nationally with an 89.8 percent penalty kill. Miami's 132 kills (in 147 chances) are the most in the country.
- Miami boasts two of the top goaltenders in the country in freshmen Ryan McKay and Jay Williams. McKay leads the nation with a 1.06 GAA and .960 save percentage, having allowed more than one goal just three times in 14 starts. Williams is second in the CCHA and ninth nationally with a 1.78 GAA while he has limited opponents to two goals or less in 14 straight games.
Miami returns home to host rival Ohio State in the final games of the regular season and the final games ever in CCHA play March 1-2. Puck drop is set for 7:35 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Steve Cady Arena with Saturday being Senior Night. Miami is 2-0-1 vs. OSU this season.
Neither game this weekend is televised, however both games will be on radio. Both games will air on WKBV-AM 1490 out of Richmond, Ind. with the "Voice of Miami Hockey" Greg Waddell calling the action. The live audio will also be available through the Miami All-Access subscription package on MURedHawks.com. Lake Superior will have live streaming of the games through AmericaOneSports.com.
CONSISTENTLY AT THE TOP: With its win Feb. 15 against Notre Dame, Miami assured itself of finishing in the top four in the standings in the final year of CCHA play, which also locked up a first-round bye and home ice for the second round of the CCHA Tournament. Miami, which sits in first with a 14-6-4-4 record in CCHA play this year, finished the 2011-12 season with a 15-11-2-1 record in league play, earning them fourth place in the standings. Miami will have now finished in the top four in the CCHA standings each of the last eight years, something no other team in the league has done. During that stretch, the 'Hawks have won the regular-season title twice, finished runner-up once and have three third-place finishes in addition to last year's fourth-place finish. One win vs. Lake Superior this weekend would also give Miami an eighth straight 20-win season.
OUTDOOR EXCITEMENT: Miami played in the program's first ever outdoor game Sunday, Feb. 17 in the OfficeMax® Hockey City Classic when the RedHawks faced Notre Dame inside of Chicago's Soldier Field, home of the NFL's Chicago Bears. Miami, which fell to to the Irish, 2-1, played in front of 52,051 people, the largest crowd Miami has ever played a hockey game in front of, topping the 34,954 people the RedHawks played in front of at the 2010 Frozen Four at Ford Field in Detroit. The RedHawks wore custom one-time only jerseys for the outdoor game, as well.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Miami's strength this year has been its defense, as the RedHawks rank first nationally, allowing just 1.50 goals per game. The RedHawks have given up a goal or less in seven of their last 10 games while not allowing more than two goals in any of those 10 games. Miami has limited the opposition to two goals or less in 24 of its last 25 games (Northern Michigan scored three goals Jan. 12), including four shutouts, and 27 of 32 games on the year.
PK A-OK: The RedHawks went 9-for-9 on the penalty kill vs. Notre Dame Feb. 15 and 17. Miami has now successfully killed 17 straight opponent power plays dating back to Feb. 8 at Western Michigan. The 'Hawks rank first in the CCHA and fourth nationally with an 89.8 percent penalty kill. Miami's 132 kills (in 147 chances) are the most in the country. The RedHawks have been perfect on the penalty kill in 20 of 32 games this year.
BAGEL BONANZA: Miami has seen a lot of zeros on the scoreboard this season, having played in 10 games involving a shutout. The RedHawks have pitched five shutouts themselves, most recently blanking No. 6 Western Michigan, 4-0, in Kalamazoo Feb. 9. Three of the five shutouts have occurred in CCHA play while the five whitewashes are the most in the CCHA. Freshmen goaltenders Ryan McKay (three) and Jay Williams (two) have combined for them. On the flip side, Miami has been shut out five times this season, as well, including Feb. 8 at WMU (2-0). The five shutouts are the most the 'Hawks have suffered since the 2001-02 season when Miami was blanked seven times and are the second-most in a season in Miami history.
NEW IN NET, NOT A PROBLEM: Miami has used both of its freshman goaltenders this season. Jay Williams has started 18 games, including eight straight from Oct. 27 to Nov. 30, while Ryan McKay has started 14 games after suffering an injury earlier this season. Both have already earned awards for their play, as well, and both rank in the top 10 nationally in GAA.
- McKay started both games vs. Notre Dame Feb. 15 and 17, his first time playing both games on the same weekend all year. He leads the country with a 1.06 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage while no other netminder in the NCAA has a GAA lower than 1.46. He allowed three goals Jan. 12 at Northern Michigan, two vs. Alaska Feb. 2 and two vs. the Irish Feb. 17, the only three times in 14 starts he has allowed more than one goal in a game, however he stopped all five shootout attempts in the tie at NMU. In 14 starts this year, he has allowed just 14 goals, including four on the power play (two 5-on-3).
- Williams boasts an 11-5-3 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 14 starts and just one goal in three of his last four starts. His 1.78 GAA is second in the CCHA and ninth nationally while his .930 save percentage is fifth in the CCHA and 17th nationally.
- McKay blanked Western Michigan Feb. 9 for his third shutout of the season, which ties for second in the CCHA and eighth nationally. He was named CCHA Warrior® Goaltender of the Week for his 29-save whitewash.
- 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.
- In his first game back in net after being injured Oct. 26 at Michigan, McKay showed no signs of rust, stopping all 26 shots at Alaska Dec. 1 for his second career shutout in 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 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. He also stopped a penalty shot at Western Michigan on Feb. 8.
- 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 earned his second career shutout Dec. 28 against Ohio State in the opening round of the Three Rivers Classic, making 29 saves, including two breakaways, as Miami won, 1-0.
- 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.
SPINELL IS ALL CLASS: On Feb. 13 senior defenseman and captain Steven Spinell was named one of just 10 finalists for the ice hockey Senior CLASS Award. The award is given annually to one senior student-athlete in several NCAA-sponsored sports and recognizes someone who has had notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. Spinell is one of three CCHA players named a finalist for the award. Miami has now had a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award each of the last three years with goalie Cody Reichard being named a finalist in 2011-12 and forward Carter Camper earning the distinction in 2010-11. The winner will be announced April 12 at the Frozen Four.
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 31 points tie for the CCHA lead with sophomore teammate Austin Czarnik and rank second nationally among rookies. His 19 assists are fourth in the CCHA and lead all NCAA freshmen while his 12 goals lead the team and tie for sixth in the CCHA.
- He has a point in 20 of his 30 games this year and had a five-game point streak from Oct. 13 to Oct. 27. He has nine multi-point games this year, including three multi-assist games and his first multi-goal game Feb. 2 vs. Alaska.
- 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.
FIRST-PERIOD RESURGENCE: Miami has scored two first-period goals in three of its last seven games, including both times vs. Alaska Feb. 1-2, and has seven first-period goals in those contests. Prior to the seven-game stretch, Miami had just two first-period goals total in 12 games from Dec. 1 to Jan. 25 until scoring twice in the first period Jan. 26 vs. Bowling Green, the first time the 'Hawks had done so since Nov. 30 at Alaska. Defensively, the RedHawks have not allowed more than one goal in the first period in any of their last 22 games and has conceded more than one first-period goal just once all year (Nov. 10 vs. NMU). On the year, Miami has scored 29 and 28 goals in the second and third periods, respectively, but just 22 in the first.
SUPER SOPHOMORES: Miami's sophomore class has picked up where they left off as freshmen as five of the team's top nine scorers are sophomores. After scoring half of Miami's 10 goals against Alaska Feb. 1-2, the six second years have accounted for 35 of Miami's 80 goals (43.8 percent) and 81 of the squad's 216 points (37.5 percent) this year. Austin Czarnik is second on the team with 11 goals and is first with 20 assists while Cody Murphy is tied for third with eight goals and has six assists, including a career-high three assists Oct. 13. Blake Coleman has seven goals and 13 points on the year, Jimmy Mullin has four goals and 12 points and Alex Wideman has five goals and 10 points. Defenseman Ben Paulides has one helper, as well. 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 20 of 32 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.
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 31 points tie for the CCHA lead with freshman teammate Riley Barber, while his 20 assists tie for second in the CCHA. His 11 goals are second on the team behind Barber and tie for 10th in the CCHA.
- Czarnik, who had a four-game point streak from Oct. 19-27, has a point in 18 of 32 games this year, including a team-high 10 multi-point games. He already has three 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.
MAC ATTACK: Senior forward Curtis McKenzie scored the game-winning goal in Miami's 2-1 win over Wisconsin Jan. 19, breaking a 1-1 tie in the second period. It was his fourth game-winning goal of the year, which ties for the CCHA lead with LSSU's Domenic Monardo, but McKenzie has done so in three fewer games. The four game-winners also tie for eighth nationally. McKenzie had just three career game-winners entering the season, including none last year.
HAGEL'S HELPERS: Redshirt senior forward Marc Hagel was named CCHA Postgame® Offensive Player of the Week Feb. 4 after a five-assist outing against Alaska Feb. 1-2. He is the third RedHawk to win the award this year along with sophomore forwards Blake Coleman and Austin Czarnik while it is Hagel's first CCHA honor. Prior to the five-assist weekend, Hagel had just three assists and five points all season and none since Dec. 7. He had two assists Feb. 1 and three assists, which also marked a career high for points, Feb. 2. They were his first multi-assist games as a RedHawk. He then added an assist Feb. 17 vs. Notre Dame, giving him six assists in his last six games.
NOT SO SHORT-HANDED: Miami has six short-handed goals on the year, which ties for fourth nationally. Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik, who has a total of 11 goals on the season, 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.
BLASI TOPS 300: With Miami's 2-1 win over Bowling Green Jan. 25, head coach Enrico Blasi earned his 300th career win, all at Miami, becoming the first hockey coach in program history to reach the milestone. He boasts a career record of 305-192-53 in 14 seasons at his alma mater. Blasi, who was already the school's all-time winningest coach, ranks 16th for most wins among active NCAA Division I hockey coaches and ranks 42nd all-time among D-I hockey coaches. With one more win, he will tie Mark Morris (Clarkson, 1988-2002), father of freshman forward Kevin Morris, for 41st on the all-time wins list.
CAITO HONORED: Freshman defenseman Matthew Caito earned his second CCHA Gladiator® Defenseman of the Week award Jan. 28 after a three-assist weekend vs. BGSU when he also posted a +2 rating with six blocked shots. He is one of just two CCHA players to win the award twice this year. He has played a big role for the RedHawks, playing on Miami's top D pair and both special teams units. He picked up his first award on Dec. 3 as he dished out a pair of assists, posted a +2 rating and helped Miami go 15-for-15 on the penalty kill at Alaska (Nov. 30-Dec. 1). He also blocked six shots in that series. For the year, Caito has 15 points (3g, 12a), which leads all Miami blueliners, and a team-high 61 blocked shots.
CLOSE CONTESTS: After only two of Miami's first 14 games were decided by one goal, eight of the RedHawks' next 11 contests (Dec. 7 to Jan. 25) were one-goal games while two others were ties. Miami is 6-5 in one-goal contests this year, most recently falling to Notre Dame, 2-1, Feb. 17. The RedHawks won their first three one-goal contests before suffering their first one-goal loss, 1-0, to Lake Superior Dec. 8. Three of the four one-goal losses on the year have been 1-0 scores. A key to close games has been scoring first, which Miami has done in 19 of 32 games this year, going 16-2-1 in such contests.
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.
POLLING AROUND: Miami is No. 3 in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and the USCHO.com Poll for the third straight week and fourth straight week in the USA Today Poll. The RedHawks started the year No. 9 in both the USCHO and USA Today Preseason Polls. The RedHawks' No. 3 ranking matches their season high, achieving it five other times this year. It is 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 polls are on page 4.
CLASSY SENIORS: Miami's senior class has compiled 95 career wins, which ranks sixth 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.