No. 8/8 Miami RedHawks (7-4-1; 2-2-0-0 NCHC) at Nebraska Omaha Mavericks (6-6-0; 3-1-0-0 NCHC)
Radio: All Contests Are Streamed at MURedHawks.com
The Miami University RedHawks begin a four-game road swing when they take on NCHC foe Nebraska Omaha in a weekend series. Friday’s game starts at 8:37 p.m. and Saturday’s finale is at 9:07 p.m.
WAYS TO LISTEN/WATCH
Miami hockey can be heard live all weekend at MURedHawks.com. An All-Access broadcast will also be available for both contests. Friday’s contest can also be heard live on WMOH (1450-AM) and both games are aired on WKBV (1490-AM).
Miami split its most recent series against No. 12 Wisconsin, taking the opener on Friday by a 2-0 score before falling 3-2 in Saturday’s finale. Ryan McKay made 30 saves for his third shutout of the season on Friday while Austin Czarnik tallied three points (2g, 1a) over the weekend, including a goal and an assist on Saturday.
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 318-200-54 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.
In his fifth season, Dean Blais holds a record of 80-74-16 as the Mavericks’ head coach. A two-time national champion head coach, Blais is 342-189-49 over his career. He helped guide UNO to an NCAA Tournament appearance during the 2010-11 season.
IN THE POLLS
Miami will enter this weekend ranked No. 8 in both major polls. Nebraska Omaha is receiving votes, but not ranked in any major poll.
THE SERIES: Miami and Nebraska Omaha have met numerous times over the years and MU holds the all-time series lead with a 17-7-3 all-time record. The Mavericks won the last meeting, which came in 2010, by a 4-2 score. Prior to that, the RedHawks were 11-0-1 in their previous 12 meetings.
ABOUT NEBRASKA OMAHA: The Mavericks are .500 (6-6) through their first 12 games and tied for first in the NCHC standings at 3-1. UNO is coming off a split in its latest series against No. 2 Michigan at home, winning 3-2 on Friday before dropping a 4-3 decision on Saturday. Josh Archibald and Ryan Walters are tied for the team lead with 13 points apiece as Archibald has nine goals and four assists while Walters has scored three times and dished out 10 assists. Kirk Thompson (3.12 GAA, .881 save%) and Ryan Massa (3.02 GAA, .885 save%) have started 11 of the Mavs’ 12 games in goal.
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 one of the top scoring duos in the nation with 38 combined points (18 for Czarnik and 17 for Barber), making them the third-highest scoring duo in the country.
1. Greg Carey and Matt Carey (St. Lawrence) 36 points
Johnny Gaudreau and Kevin Hayes/Bill Arnold (Boston College) 36 points
3. Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik (Miami) 35 points
4. Ryan Haggerty and Brock Higgs (Rensselaer) 32 points
5. Mike Szmatula and Kevin Roy (Northeastern) 31 points
CENTURY CLUB WATCH: Junior forward Austin Czarnik is creeping close to a career milestone at Miami. The RedHawk captain enters the weekend with 95 career points, needing five more to become the program’s 48th player with 100-career points. Czarnik is coming off a three-point weekend (2g, 1a) against No. 12 Wisconsin, including his fifth multi-point game of the season (1g, 1a) on Saturday.
COMING TOGETHER: Miami’s defense is starting to really gel together over the past few weeks. The RedHawks have allowed only seven goals in their past six games (1.17/game), posting three shutouts and holding their opponents under three goals five times. MU gave up 18 goals in its first six contests (3.0/game), including three goals or more four times. That stretch has bumped Miami to 10th nationally in scoring defense (2.08 goals against/game).
MCKAY SAVES: Sophomore Ryan McKay has started Miami’s last four games and has been particularly impressive the past three weeks. In last Friday’s 2-0 win over Wisconsin, McKay made 30 saves to record his third shutout in a four-start span. Here are a few notable achievements McKay has pulled off in the past three weeks (five starts).
• Built a personal scoreless streak of 182:28 over a span of four starts, which fell 10:07 shy of the 25th-longest streak in NCAA history (Jamie Holden; Quinnipiac, 2004).
• Stopped 114 of 116 shots in a four-start span that included three shutouts.
• Moved into a tie for the national lead in shutouts (3).
• Improved his save percentage to .943 (4th nationally) and his goals against average to 1.74 (7th).
GOOD TO BE KING: During his recent run, McKay has now played enough minutes to qualify for the school’s career record book (minimum 1,500 minutes played) in goals against average and save percentage. He is the school record holder in both categories (1.48 GAA, .945 save%).
Career Goals Against Average
1. Ryan McKay (2012-Present), 1.48
2. Connor Knapp (2008-12), 1.94
3. Jeff Zatkoff (2005-08), 1.96
4. Cody Reichard (2008-12), 2.10
5. Charlie Effinger (2004-08), 2.35
Career Save Percentage
1. Ryan McKay (2012-Present), .945
2. Jeff Zatkoff (2005-08), .927
3. Connor Knapp (2008-12), .918
4. Cody Reichard (2008-12), .912
Charlie Effinger (2004-08), .912
PLAY 'EM TOUGH: Miami has endured one of the most difficult schedules in the country thus far. Eight of MU’s 12 games have come against teams that were ranked in the top 12 of at least one major poll at the time the RedHawks played them, including three top-10 opponents. Per CollegeHockeyNews.com’s KRACH (Ken’s Ratings for American College Hockey) rating system, MU has faced the most difficult schedule in the nation with a Strength of Schedule (SOS) rating of 363.8, over 60 points more than Minnesota’s No. 2 rated schedule.
JUST KILLING TIME: Miami’s penalty kill has been locked in during recent weeks. From Nov. 2-16, The RedHawks successfully killed of 16-straight opposing power plays before Wisconsin’s first-period power play goal ended the streak on Nov. 16. That goal was the only one with the man advantage UW managed that night and MU has still killed 20 of its last 21 minor penalties.
RARE LOSS: The Nov. 16 loss against Wisconsin is one that hasn’t been seen since the opening night of the 2011-12 campaign. The RedHawks entered the third period with a 2-1 lead over the Badgers, only to yield two goals in a 3-2 defeat. That setback marked the first time MU has lost a game it led after two periods since dropping a 5-3 decision to Bemidji State on Oct. 7, 2011. Miami had won 50-straight games when leading by any score after 40 minutes of play.
NICE WORK, ROOK: Freshman forward Anthony Louis has fit in nicely to the Miami lineup. The Winfield, Ill., native has seven points (3g, 3a) in 10 games thus far. Louis has put up at least one point in all but four games he’s dressed in and put up his first multi-point game with a goal and an assist against Canisius on Nov. 2. He is also tied for the team lead with two game-winning goals.
KURALY KID: Sean Kuraly dished out assists in both of MU’s games at No. 3/4 St. Cloud State over the weekend, which snapped a four-game drought without a point. The Dublin, Ohio sophomore began the year with a four-game point streak, including a three-assist performance in the season opener at Ohio State. In four NCHC games, Kuraly is the RedHawks’ leading scorer with four points (1g, 3a).
DEEP TROUBLE: Through 12 games, the RedHawks have dressed 23 skaters (not including goalies) who have lengthed their attack. A total of 21 players (including both goalies) have notched at least one point this season, 13 of whom have three points or more.
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 Austin Czarnik posting five multi-point games. MU has a total of 21 multi-point performances in 12 games.
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 +6 on the ice. He also ranks second on MU with 23 blocked shots.
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 six other players for the national lead in short-handed goals.
STAYING IN THE LANE: Last season, Miami blocked 630 shots compared to 609 for its opponents. Through 12 games this season Miami holds a 197-145 advantage in the blocked shot category. Leading the team in blocks this season are Taylor Richart (26), Matt Caito (23), Chris Joyaux (18), Trevor Hamilton (13) and captain Austin Czarnik (13). The Red and White have been particularly effective blocking shooting lanes over the last two weeks. MU has 76 blocks in its past four games, reaching 20 blocks as a team twice in that span, something it did just once in its first eight contests.
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. Six of the team’s seven home games have been listed as a sellout. Five of those sellouts have been capacity sellouts (3,642). Since Steve Cady Arena has opened Miami has had 69 sell outs.