FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. - Coming off a sweep at Lake Superior State, two members of the Miami hockey team earned CCHA weekly awards as freshman forward Riley Barber garnered CCHA Gongshow® Rookie of the Week while freshman defenseman Matthew Caito received CCHA Gladiator® Defenseman of the Week, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association announced Monday.
Barber (Livonia, Mich.) totaled three points in the sweep of the Lakers, tallying two goals and an assist. He fired 14 shots on goal in the pair of games while posting a +1 rating and blocking a shot. In Friday's back-and-forth 5-4 victory, Barber scored a goal, which knotted the game at 2-2 early in the second period. He fired a career-high and Miami season-high 10 shots on goal in the game while earning No. 3 star of the game accolades. The next night in Saturday's 2-1 win, he notched two points on a goal and an assist, as he had a hand in both goals. He scored the game's first goal in the first period on the power play. He then assisted on the game-winning goal midway through the second period, soon after LSSU had tied the contest at 1-1. Barber put four shots on goal Saturday, when he was named the game's No. 1 star and had a +1 rating.
Barber has now captured CCHA Gongshow® Rookie of the Week four times this season while no other freshman has won it more than twice this year. He picked up his other honors Oct. 22 after playing Providence, Nov. 12 after a series with Northern Michigan and Dec. 17 after two games with Ohio State. His 34 points on the year lead the CCHA and tie for the most points among rookies in the NCAA. He now has 10 multi-point games on the year, which ties for the team lead, while his 14 goals this season are tops on the team. Barber has also won CCHA Gongshow® Rookie of the Month for October and November.
Caito (Coto de Caza, Calif.) contributed both offensively and defensively in Miami's sweep of Lake Superior State. He totaled three points in the two games on two goals and an assist. In Friday's 5-4 win, he scored early in the third period to put Miami ahead, 4-3, with a blast from the point. He also put three shots on goal in the game and helped Miami kill five of seven LSSU power plays. In Saturday's 2-1 victory, Caito had a hand in both goals. He assisted on the game's first goal in the first period on the power play to put Miami up 1-0. He then scored his first career game-winning goal midway through the second period on a one-timer to break a 1-1 tie. He put two shots on goal, blocked a shot and had a +1 rating in the contest, as well. Caito also led the penalty kill unit that went a perfect 3-for-3 Saturday. He finished the weekend with a +1 rating and five shots on goal. The goals in back-to-back games marked the first time he had scored in consecutive games all season, as he had just three goals on the year entering the series.
Caito has now earned CCHA Gladiator® Defenseman of the Week three times on the season, first capturing it Dec. 3 after a sweep of Alaska and then again Jan. 28 after sweeping Bowling Green. He is the only player to claim the award three times this year. Barber leads all Miami defensemen this year with 18 points, which is fourth on the team, on five goals and 13 assists.
A total of seven different RedHawks have now combined to win 12 CCHA weekly honors this season. Along with Caito's three Gladiator® Defenseman of the Week nods and Barber's four Gongshow® Rookie of the Week honors, freshman goaltender Jay Williams was tabbed Gongshow® Rookie of the Week as well Nov. 19. Redshirt senior forward Marc Hagel and sophomore forwards Blake Coleman and Austin Czarnik have each received CCHA Postgame® Offensive Player of the Week once this season while freshman goaltender Ryan McKay was chosen as CCHA Warrior® Goaltender of the Week Feb. 11.
Barber, Caito and the rest of the RedHawks are back on the ice this weekend, as No. 3/3 Miami closes out the regular season hosting in-state rival Ohio State Friday and Saturday at Steve Cady Arena. The RedHawks need just one shootout or regulation win this weekend to clinch the CCHA regular-season title outright. Friday's game starts at 7:35 p.m. while Saturday's contest, which is Senior Night, begins at 7:05 p.m. Saturday is also Miami's last CCHA regular-season contest ever.