THE GAME
The No. 3/3 and top-seeded Miami hockey team heads to Detroit, Mich. for the last CCHA Championship Saturday and Sunday, March 23-24. The RedHawks, who are making their fourth straight trip to Joe Louis Arena, face No. 20 and seventh-seeded Michigan in Saturday’s second semifinal at 4:35 p.m. No. 9 and second-seeded Notre Dame plays No. 4 seed Ohio State in the first semifinal at 1:05 p.m. The winners meet in the CCHA Championship game Sunday at 2:05 p.m. There is no third-place game this year.

Miami split with Michigan when the teams met in Ann Arbor back on Oct. 26-27 to open CCHA play. On Oct. 26, freshman goaltender Ryan McKay was hurt early in the contest, forcing classmate Jay Williams into action. The Wolverines scored twice in the third period to break a 2-2 tie and earn a 4-2 win. The next night, the RedHawks scored first again but fell behind, 2-1, before scoring three goals in the first seven minutes of the third period en route to a 4-3 victory. Freshman forward Riley Barber, who leads the CCHA with 38 points this year, which is also tops among all freshmen nationally, and sophomore forward Austin Czarnik each had a goal and two assists in the series. Sophomore Alex Guptill had two goals and an assist for UM.

The RedHawks (24-10-5) had to come back in their CCHA Quarterfinal series with 11th-seeded Michigan State last weekend, winning the final two nights to take the best-of-three series. Miami was shut out for the seventh time this season Friday, 3-0, but bounced back for 4-1 wins both Saturday and Sunday. McKay was in net all three games while Czarnik had three goals in the series and classmate Cody Murphy had a goal and two assists against the Spartans.

Michigan (17-18-3) swept 10th-seeded Northern  Michigan in its CCHA first round series March 8-9 with 3-2 and 6-2 wins. The Wolverines, who are unbeaten in their last eight games (7-0-1), then went on the road and swept third-seeded Western Michigan, 4-3 and 5-1, last weekend. Freshman Steve Racine has been in net for all of UM’s streak and has a 2.66 GAA on the year. Guptill leads Michigan with 14 goals and 33 points, one of seven Wolverines with 20 points this year.

MEDIA COVERAGE
Saturday's semifinal will be televised on Fox Sports Detroit+ with Ben Holden handling play-by-play, Darren Eliot adding color commentary and Shannon Hogan serving as the rink-side reporter. Sunday's championship game will be on Fox Sports Detroit's main channel. Saturday's semifinal and Sunday's title game, should Miami make it, will both be on radio on WKBV-AM 1490  out of Richmond, Ind. and WMOH-AM 1450 out of Hamilton, Ohio with the "Voice of Miami Hockey" Greg Waddell calling the action. Live audio of the game(s) is also available on MURedHawks.com through the Miami All-Access subscription package.

THE SERIES
Miami trails in the all-time series with Michigan, 72-27-4, splitting with the Wolverines in Ann Arbor this year. The RedHawks have won seven of the last 12 meetings, however, and are 9-6-1 vs. Michigan since the 2008-09 season. On neutral ice, Miami is 1-4-0 against the Wolverines, winning the last meeting in the regional final of the 2010 NCAA Tournament in double overtime, 3-2.

THE COACHES
Enrico Blasi (Miami ’94) is in his 14th season at Miami. A four-time CCHA Coach of the Year, he is a finalist again this year, and was named National Coach of the Year in 2005-06. He stands 310-194-53 in 14 seasons at his alma mater, where he has led Miami to eight NCAA Tournaments, two Frozen Four berths, a National Championship game appearance, three CCHA regular-season titles, including this year, and the school’s first ever Mason Cup in 2011. Blasi is the the winningest coach in school history.

Red Berenson (Michigan ‘62) is in his 29th season at Michigan, where he has a record of 769-370-80, and is the fifth-winningest coach in NCAA hockey history. He was named National Coach of the Year in 2008, also garnering CCHA Coach of the Year honors for the second time (1994). Berenson has led his alma mater to the NCAA Tournament 22 straight seasons, including 11 Frozen Four trips. He has also led U-M to two national titles (1996 and 1998) and a total of 20 CCHA titles.

QUICK HITS
  • Miami is making its 11th trip to Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA Championship, where the RedHawks have posted an 8-10 all-time record. Saturday will mark Miami’s 10th semifinal appearance while the RedHawks are 4-5 all-time in the CCHA semifinals. The RedHawks have won just one Mason Cup, however, capturing the 2011 title as a No. 3 seed.
  • Miami is 35-37 all-time in the CCHA Tournament and 10-5 all-time as a No. 1 seed. Miami is 0-5 all-time against Michigan in the CCHA Tournament, including 0-2 in the semifinals, as the Wolverines are the lone team the ‘Hawks have never beaten in the CCHA Playoffs. The teams last met in the CCHA Tournament in the 2010 semifinals, a 5-2 UM win.
  • Miami is making its fourth straight trip to Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA Championship, making Miami’s senior class the first class in program history to make it to “The Joe” all four years.
  • Freshman goaltender Ryan McKay has started a career-high six consecutive games and nine of Miami’s last 10 games. McKay leads the country with a 1.20 GAA and a .954 save percentage. He has limited the opposition to one goal or less in 14 of his 20 starts this season.
  • Miami has held the opposition to two goals or less in 28 of its last 32 games and one goal or less in 20 of 39 games this year. Miami ranks second nationally allowing 1.62 goals per game.
  • Miami is 19-0-1 when scoring three or more goals this year and 14-0-0 when topping the four-goal mark on the season. The RedHawks are also 20-2-1 this year when scoring first.

UP NEXT
Should Miami win Saturday, the RedHawks would advance to Sunday’s CCHA Championship game against Ohio State or Notre Dame. Should Miami fall to Michigan, the ‘Hawks would be eliminated from the CCHA Tournament and have to wait for their NCAA Tournament fate, which is announced March 24.

TOURNEY TIDBITS:

  • Miami is making its 11th trip to Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA Championship, including its fourth straight appearance, where the RedHawks have posted an 8-10 all-time record. Miami is making its 10th semifinal appearance while the RedHawks are 4-5 all-time in the CCHA semifinals. The RedHawks have won just one Mason Cup, however, capturing the 2011 title as a No. 3 seed.
  • Miami is 35-37 all-time in the CCHA Tournament and 10-5 all-time as a No. 1 seed. The RedHawks have now made it to Detroit all four years Miami has been a No. 1 seed. Head coach Enrico Blasi is 23-21 all-time in the CCHA Playoffs.
  • Miami is 0-5 all-time against Michigan in the CCHA Tournament, including 0-2 in the semifinals, as the Wolverines are the lone team the ‘Hawks have never beaten in the CCHA Playoffs. The teams last met in the CCHA Tournament in the 2010 semifinals, a 5-2 UM win. The complete CCHA Tournament series is on page 8.
  • Miami has made it to the CCHA title game four times previously, doing so in 1993 and 2006 as a No. 1 seed, in 2008 as a No. 2 seed and in 2011 when the RedHawks won the Mason Cup.

THE FINAL CHAMPIONS: Miami won the 2012-13 CCHA regular-season championship, totaling 59 points in the standings with a 17-7-4-4 league record, three points ahead of Notre Dame. It is the program’s fourth regular-season crown, also winning the title in 1992-93, 2005-06 and 2009-10, while the RedHawks have won one CCHA Tournament, as well (2011). Miami will forever be the final CCHA regular-season champions as the league is dissolving after the season. By winning the title, Miami has 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 three times, finished runner-up once and have three third-place finishes in addition to last year’s fourth-place finish.

ALL-CCHA, ALL THE TIME: Miami had three players named to the all-conference teams, which were announced March 13. Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik and freshman forward Riley Barber were both tabbed First-Team All-CCHA while freshman defenseman Matthew Caito garnered Honorable Mention All-CCHA. It is the first all-league honor for all three.

  • Barber becomes the first rookie to earn first-team honors since 2003-04 when Michigan’s T.J. Hensick and Michigan State’s A.J. Thelen both received First-Team All-CCHA nods.
  • The RedHawks were the only team to place more than one player on the 2013 All-CCHA First Team, the third time in the last four years Miami has put at least two players on the First Team. The RedHawks have also now had at least one first-teamer each of the last six seasons. Barber and Czarnik become the 17th and 18th Miami players to earn first-team distinction.
  • Czarnik, who is a finalist for CCHA Player of the Year and Best Defensive Forward, was the top vote-getter on the team, totaling 46 points, including eight first-place votes.
  • In addition to their All-CCHA nods, Barber, who is a finalist for CCHA Rookie of the Year, Caito, who is a finalist for Best Offensive Defenseman, and goaltender Ryan McKay were all tabbed to the CCHA All-Rookie Team on March 11.
  • Miami placed three players on the seven-man All-Rookie Team for the first time in program history, last putting two on the team in 2008-09. The last CCHA team to have three players land on the All-Rookie Team was Notre Dame in 2006-07. Barber was the lone unanimous selection to the All-Rookie Team while no other team had more than one player on the squad.

ROARING 20s: Miami has 24 wins on the year, marking its eighth straight 20-win season. Prior to this stretch, Miami had never posted 20-win seasons in more than two straight years. The eight consecutive 20-win seasons is the fourth-longest active streak in the country behind only Michigan (25), which is three wins shy of 20 so far this year, Denver (12) and North Dakota (11), which have each topped 20 wins this season. In 14 years under head coach Enrico Blasi, Miami has topped the 20-win plateau 11 times. Prior to Blasi, Miami reached 20 wins just five times in 21 seasons.

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Miami’s strength this year has been its defense, as the RedHawks rank second nationally and first in the CCHA, allowing just 1.62 goals per game. Miami has limited the opposition to two goals or less in 28 of its last 32 games (NMU scored three goals Jan. 12, LSSU scored four Feb. 22, OSU scored three March 1 and MSU scored three March 15), including four shutouts. The RedHawks have held their opponent to two goals or less in 31 of 39 games on the year and one goal or less in 20 contests (51.3 percent of their games) on the season, including five shutouts.

CLASSY SENIORS: Miami’s senior class of Joe Hartman, Garrett Kennedy, Steve Mason, Curtis McKenzie and Steven Spinell has compiled 100 career wins, which ranks fourth in program history. The class is the first in Miami history to make it to the CCHA Championship at Joe Louis Arena all four years. They have also been a part of a Frozen Four team as freshmen while winning two CCHA regular-season titles (2009-10 and 2012-13) and they helped the RedHawks win their first ever Mason Cup (CCHA Tournament title) as sophomores. The class has been to the NCAA Tournament all three years, as well, and will likely make it a fourth year this season. Redshirt senior Marc Hagel joined the RedHawks this season after transferring from Princeton.

THE BARBER SHOP: Freshman forward Riley Barber has had a stellar rookie campaign, earning unanimous CCHA All-Rookie Team honors and First-Team All-CCHA.

  • Barber’s 38 points lead the CCHA and rank first nationally among all rookies. He has 12 points in his last 12 games. His team-high 23 assists are third in the CCHA and first among NCAA freshmen while his 15 goals lead the team and tie for sixth in the CCHA.
  • He has a point in 24 of his 37 games this year and had a five-game point streak from Oct. 13 to Oct. 27. He has a team-best 12 multi-point games this year, including four multi-assist games and his first multi-goal game Feb. 2 vs. Alaska.
  • On Feb. 25, Barber was named CCHA Gongshow® Rookie of the Week for the fourth time this season after a two-goal, three-point outing in a sweep of Lake Superior State Feb. 22-23. No other CCHA player won the honor more than twice this season.
  • 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.

AUSTIN’S ALL-IN: After a standout freshman campaign, sophomore forward Austin Czarnik has picked up where he left off. He followed up his CCHA All-Rookie Team campaign by earning First-Team All-CCHA this year.

  • Czarnik’s 36 points tie for fourth in the CCHA and are second on the team, as are his 22 assists fourth in the league and second on the team. His 14 goals are second on the team and tied for 11th in the CCHA, as well.
  • Czarnik, who had a four-game point streak from Oct. 19-27, has a point in 22 of 39 games this year, including 11 multi-point games. He has four multi-goal games this year, including most recently March 16 in the quarterfinals vs. Michigan State, 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.

NOT SO SHORT-HANDED: After scoring short-handed goals in back-to-back games March 16 and 17 vs. Michigan State, Miami has eight short-handed goals on the year, which ranks second nationally behind only Robert Morris’ nine. Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik, who has a total of 14 goals on the season, has tallied four of them short-handed, which leads the country by himself. His first three shorties came in a five-game stretch from Oct. 26 to Nov. 9 while he added another March 16. He now already has six career short-handed goals, which ties him for third in school history, while his four this year tie for second in Miami single-season history (seven is the record). Miami’s complete top-10 lists are on page 10 and 11. Sophomore forward Cody Murphy, freshman forward Riley Barber, redshirt senior forward Marc Hagel, and freshman forward Kevin Morris each have one shorty this year, as well.

BAGEL BONANZA: Miami has seen a lot of zeros on the scoreboard this season, having played in 12 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 second-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 seven times this season, including a 3-0 loss to Michigan State March 15 in game one of the CCHA Quarterfinals. The seven shutouts suffered on the season tie the Miami record for most times being blanked in a season first set by the 2001-02 RedHawks.

PK A-OK: The RedHawks, who killed 26 straight opponent power plays at one point this year from Jan. 11 to Feb. 1, rank second in the CCHA and sixth nationally with an 88.2 percent penalty kill. Miami’s 157 kills (in 178 chances) are the second-most in the country, one fewer than Lake Superior State. The RedHawks have been perfect on the penalty kill in 22 of 39 games this year.

NEW IN NET, NOT A PROBLEM: Miami has used both of its freshman goaltenders this season. Jay Williams has started 19 games, including eight straight from Oct. 27 to Nov. 30, while Ryan McKay has started 20 games after suffering an injury earlier this season. Both have earned awards for their play and both rank in the top 11 nationally in GAA.

  • McKay has started a season-long six straight games and nine of Miami’s last 10 games. He leads the country with a 1.20 goals-against average and a .954 save percentage while no other netminder in the NCAA has a GAA lower than 1.49. In 20 starts this year, he has given up just one goal or less in 14 of them. He also stopped all five shootout attempts in a tie at Northern Michigan Jan. 12. In his 20 starts, he has allowed just 23 goals, including eight on the power play (three 5-on-3).
  • McKay made a career-high 44 saves Feb. 23 at Lake Superior State, allowing just one goal. The 44 saves marked the most saves by a RedHawk goaltender since Connor Knapp stopped 55 shots March 28, 2010 in a double-overtime game in the NCAA Regional Final vs. Michigan.
  • Williams boasts an 12-5-3 record, while his nine-game unbeaten streak (6-0-3) was snapped with a 2-1 loss at Northern Michigan Jan. 11. He had not allowed more than two goals in any of his last 14 starts until giving up four goals at Lake Superior State Feb. 22. His 1.89 GAA is second in the CCHA behind McKay and 11th nationally while his .926 save percentage is sixth in the CCHA and 20th nationally.
  • McKay blanked Western Michigan Feb. 9 for his third shutout of the season, which ties for fourth in the CCHA and 14th nationally. He was named CCHA Warrior® Goaltender of the Week for his 29-save whitewash.
  • McKay was named CCHA Goaltender of the Month for February, his second time winning the award, after compiling a 1.20 GAA and .961 save percentage in the month. He first won it for December after posting a 0.76 GAA and .970 save percentage in four starts. He also garnered Hockey Commissioners’ Association National Rookie of the Month for December. 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.
  • Williams went 7-for-7 on the year in CCHA shootout attempts, as he did not 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 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.

SUPER SOPHOMORES: Miami’s sophomore class has picked up where they left off as freshmen as five of the team’s top 10 scorers are sophomores. After accounting for five of Miami’s eight goals against Michigan State March 16-17, the six second years have accounted for 43 of Miami’s 99 goals (43.4 percent) and 97 of the squad’s 265 points (36.6 percent) this year. Austin Czarnik is second on the team with 14 goals and 22 assists while Cody Murphy is third with 10 goals and also has eight assists, including a career-high three assists Oct. 13. Blake Coleman has eight goals and assists each, Jimmy Mullin has six goals and 14 points and Alex Wideman has five goals and 12 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 24 of 39 games this year. Last year’s newcomers also accounted for 122 of Miami’s 323 points, or 37.8 percent.

--MURedHawks.com--