No. 7/7 Miami RedHawks (5-2-1; 1-1-0-0 NCHC) at No. 3/4 St. Cloud State Huskies (5-0-1; 2-0-0-0 NCHC)
Radio: All Contests Are Streamed at MURedHawks.com
The Miami University RedHawks resume National Collegiate Hockey Conference play when they travel to No. 3/4 St. Cloud State for a weekend series. Friday night’s contest starts at 8:37 p.m. while Saturday’s weekend finale begins at 8:07 p.m.
WAYS TO LISTEN/WATCH
Miami hockey can be heard live all weekend at MURedHawks.com.
Miami went 2-0 over the weekend against Canisius College, outscoring the Golden Griffins 8-2 in the two contests (3-0 and 5-2). Blake Coleman led all skaters with four points (1g, 3a). Friday night’s 3-0 win was MU’s first shutout of the year as sophomore Ryan McKay made 20 saves (11 in the first period alone) for his fifth-career shutout. Scoring was very balanced as seven RedHawks had two or more points over the weekend.
Enrico Blasi (Miami ’94) is in his 15th season behind the RedHawk bench. He is a five-time CCHA Coach of the Year and was named National Coach of the Year in 2005-06. He stands 314-198-54 in 14-plus seasons at his alma mater, where he has led Miami to nine NCAA Tournaments, including two Frozen Four berths, a National Championship game appearance, a trio of CCHA regular-season titles and the school’s first ever Mason Cup in 2011. Blasi is the winningest coach in school history.
Bob Motzko is in the middle of his ninth season at SCSU and brought the Huskies to their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance of his tenure a year ago. St. Cloud State's win over Miami in last season's Midwest Regional Final sent the Huskies to their first Frozen Four appearance in school history.
IN THE POLLS
Miami will enter this weekend ranked No. 7 in both major polls. St. Cloud State is No. 3 in the USCHO.com poll and No. 4 in the USA Today/Hockey Magazine poll.
• Miami is playing its third weekend series (out of five total) against a team that is ranked in the top 10 at the time MU plays it. The RedHawks faced North Dakota (No. 6/8 at the time) on Oct. 18-19 and traveled to Providence (No. 8/8) on Oct. 25-26.
• Riley Barber and line mate Austin Czarnik are both tied for first in the nation in scoring with 14 points apiece. Barber has eight goals and six assists while Czarnik has recorded five goals and nine helpers. His eight goals rank second in the country and his two short-handed goals are tied for the most nationally. He also ranks fourth in the NCAA with two game-winning goals. Czarnik is third in the nation with nine assists.
THE SERIES: While Miami is 8-3-2 all-time against St. Cloud State, the RedHawks are winless (0-2-1) in their last three meetings. These programs met in the NCAA Tournament last season, with the Huskies winning 4-1 to eliminate the RedHawks, spoiling their bid for a Frozen Four appearance.
REDHAWKS TO OPEN FIRST SEASON IN NCHC: Miami hockey embarks on a new era as the RedHawks open the inaugural season of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, of which Miami is a founding member. The NCHC is an eight-team hockey-only league consisting of Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska Omaha, North Dakota, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan, along with Miami. The conference boasts a combined 17 NCAA Championships, 50 Frozen Four berths, 12 Hobey Baker Award winners, including SCSU’s Drew LeBlanc this past year and 266 All-Americans. The teams have also produced 295 players that went on to play in the NHL. The new league will reward fans every weekend with fast, exciting, action-packed hockey that pits several of the top teams in the country against each other. The NCHC also has agreed to a television deal with CBS Sports Network, assuring at least 18 league games will be broadcast to a national audience this coming season.
REDHAWKS PICKED TO FINISH FIRST IN NCHC POLL: In the inaugural National Collegiate Hockey Conference preseason poll, Miami University was picked to win the conference. The poll was voted on by a total of 16 media members who regularly cover NCHC teams, two from each institution’s market. The RedHawks finished the preseason poll with 115 points, followed by North Dakota (109), St. Cloud State (99), Denver (66), Western Michigan (61), Minnesota-Duluth (43), Colorado College (42) and Nebraska-Omaha (41). Miami also led the preseason poll with seven first-place votes.
DYNAMIC DUO: Miami’s Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik are the top scoring duo in the nation with 28 combined points (14 apiece). Those 14 points for both players individually are also tops in the country.
1. Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik (Miami) 28 points
2. Kevin Roy and Mike Szmatula (Northeastern) 26 points
3. Sam Anas and Kellen Jones (Quinnipiac) 25 points
4. Ryan Haggerty and Brock Higgs (Rensselaer) 23 points
5. Sam Warning and Justin Kloos (Minnesota) 21 points
TRICKY, TRICKY: Through just eight games Miami has already recorded a pair of hat tricks. Riley Barber scored four goals in a 6-3 win versus Ohio State on Oct. 12 and Blake Coleman snuck three past the goaltender in the second period versus North Dakota a week later in a 6-2 win on Oct. 19.
NICE WORK, ROOK: Freshman forward Anthony Louis has fit in nicely to the Miami lineup. The Winfield, Ill., native has six points (3g, 3a) in six games thus far. His point per game average ranks seventh in the country. Louis has put up at least one point in all but one game he’s dressed in and posted three points (1g, 2a) in a pair of wins over Canisius last weekend.
BIG TIME BLAKE: Junior forward Blake Coleman continued his roll with four points (1g, 3a) last weekend. Coleman led the RedHawks with 16 shots in the two wins over Canisius and is riding a five-game point streak, during which he has nine points (5g, 4a). The Plano, Texas native started the streak with a hat trick against North Dakota on Oct. 19 and dished out three assists in a Nov. 2 victory over Canisius in his most recent game.
DEEP TROUBLE: Through eight games, the RedHawks have dressed 23 skaters (not including goalies) who have lengthed their attack. A total of 20 players (including both goalies) have notched at least one point this season, 12 of whom have three points or more. All that has contributed to the fourth-best scoring offense (4.25 goals/game) in the nation.
BIG PERFORMANCES: Another strong showing of the RedHawks’ depth is the fact that 11 different players have recorded at least one multi-point game this season. Five of those players have done so two or more times with Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik posting four multi-point games. MU has a total of 20 multi-point performances in eight games.
MORE POWER TO YOU: Miami’s power play is on a roll entering this weekend. The RedHawks are 8-for-22 (36.4 percent) with the man advantage over their last four games, scoring two or more power play goals in three of those contests. MU matched a season best with three power play goals in last Saturday’s 5-2 win over Canisius.
CALMING CAITO: Sophomore Matthew Caito has been a calming presence on the RedHawks’ blue line thus far. Caito is contributing at both ends of the rink with seven assists and is a +5 on the ice. He also ranks second on MU with 11 blocked shots. His seven assists are tied for the 10th most among all NCAA defensemen.
WHO NEEDS FULL STRENGTH: Riley Barber scored his second short-handed goal of the season in 4-4 tie at Providence on Oct. 26. His goal helped change the tide as the Friars built a 2-0 lead just 15 seconds before Barber’s tally. The sophomore forward is tied with four other players for the national lead in short-handed goals.
OUCH!: Last season Miami blocked 630 shots compared to 609 for its opponents. Through eight games this season Miami holds a 121-100 advantage in the blocked shot category. Leading the team in blocks this season are Taylor Richart (14), Chris Joyaux (11), Matthew Caito (11) and captain Austin Czarnik (11).
WHO’S IN NET: So far this season, the RedHawks and head coach Enrico Blasi have rotated goaltenders, something that has been fairly common over the years. Jay Williams and Ryan McKay each have four starts this season. McKay is an unbeaten 3-0-1 with a 2.21 goals against average and a .928 save percentage. He also notched his first shutout of the season in last Friday’s 3-0 win over Canisius. Williams evened his record to 2-2-0 record and now boasts 2.75 goals against average and a .905 save percentage after stopping 23 of 25 shots on Saturday. Williams also assisted on a goal in the 5-2 victory over Canisius.
BUY YOUR TICKETS EARLY: Miami has announced three straight sell outs to begin the 2013-14 hockey season, the first time in school history that has been accomplished. Four of the team’s five home games have been listed as a sellout. Since Steve Cady Arena has opened Miami has had 67 sell outs.