NCHC Playoffs (Best-of-Three)
Friday, March 14 • 8:37 p.m.
Saturday, March 15 • 8:07 p.m.
Sunday, March 16 • 8:07 p.m. (If Necessary)
Herb Brooks National Hockey Center •
St. Cloud, Minn.
Miami RedHawks (12-19-3; 6-17-1-1 NCHC) at No. 4/4 St. Cloud State Huskies (21-8-5; 15-6-3-0 NCHC)
Radio: All Contests Are Streamed at MURedHawks.com
The Miami University RedHawks begin their first foray into the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Tournament when it travels to regular season champion St. Cloud State for a best-of-three series that runs on Friday (8:37 p.m. ET), Saturday (8:07 p.m.) and Sunday (8:07 p.m.; if necessary).
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.
LAST TIME OUT
The RedHawks split their final regular season series at Denver last weekend. Blake Coleman netted two goals to bring Miami within 3-2 late in the second period, but DU held off a five-minute power play and never trailed to down MU 5-2 in the opener. Coleman was at it again and the RedHawks put together perhaps their finest third period of the year on Saturday. The junior broke a 1-1 tie 7:33 into the third period, a frame that the RedHawks dominated to the tune of a 24-7 shot advantage. Ryan McKay stopped 32 of 33 Pioneer shots to shut the door in a 2-1 victory.
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 323-215-56 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 (St. Cloud State ‘87) is in his ninth season at the helm for St. Cloud State and has guided the Huskies to two-straight conference titles and the inaugural NCHC crown. Under Motzko, SCSU holds a 183-133-40 overall record and has made four NCAA Tournament appearances, including its first Frozen Four berth in program history in 2013.
• Blake Coleman has eight goals in six games since returning to the RedHawks’ lineup on Feb. 21. He has scored eight of the Red and White’s last 10 goals, including five straight over a span of 216:29.
• Coleman led the team with 11 goals against conference opponents (13 games).
• Miami’s power play is 12-for-42 (28.6 percent) in its last 11 games.
• The RedHawks have killed off 12-straight power plays.
• MU has allowed less than two goals in two of its last three games after doing so only once in the prior 20 games.
THE SERIES: Miami leads 10-5-1, going 2-2 against St. Cloud State this season.
ABOUT ST. CLOUD STATE: The Huskies are the first regular season champions of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, clinching the league title by way of a weekend sweep at Colorado College. The second-highest scoring team in the country, SCSU’s Jonny Brodzinski (20 goals, 39 points) and Nic Dowd (19 goals, 37 points) ranked second and third in the NCHC in goal scoring, respectively. Five Huskie skaters scored at least 10 goals and eight recorded 20 points or more. Goaltender Ryan Faragher’s 19 wins led the league during the regular season and he enters the tournament with a 2.67 goals against average and a .909 save percentage.
2013-14 MEETINGS: The RedHawks and Huskies have split their four meetings, with each team recording a win on the opponent’s home ice, this season. The statistical story sheds light on just how tight those games have been, both squads have posted road shutout victories and the teams combined for 15 goals (8-7 SCSU) in the four regular season meetings. The shots are also nearly deadlocked, with the Huskies holding a slim 142-140 advantage in shots on goal. Austin Czarnik and Sean Kuraly did the bulk of Miami’s damage against St. Cloud, with each notching three points (1g, 2a) in the season series.
POSTSEASON BOUND: Miami enters this weekend’s series with St. Cloud State looking to continue its recent success in reaching semifinal rounds in conference tournaments. The RedHawks advanced to the semifinals of the CCHA Tournament each of the past four years. MU went 23-22 in the CCHA Tournament under Enrico Blasi, reaching the finals three times.
COLEMAN’S GOALMAN: Blake Coleman has provided a jolt to Miami’s lineup since returning to the lineup on Feb. 21. The junior forward has eight goals in his past six games and has netted the RedHawks’ last five goals. He’s scored two goals in four of the six games he’s played. The Red and White could be even more dangerous should Miami’s other scorers pick things up, as only Coleman has scored for MU in the past 216:29, a span that goes back to the second period against Minnesota Duluth on Feb. 28.
BUILDING SOMETHING: While keeping pucks out of its net proved a struggle over the previous few months, Miami has shown improvement in that area recently. MU has allowed just a single goal in two of its last three games, something that only happened once since shutting out Wisconsin on Nov. 15 (20 games). Over the first
SPECIAL CONTRIBUTIONS: In tight postseason games, sometimes special teams can make the biggest difference of all. Luckily for Miami, both the power play and penalty kill are perking up. The RedHawks are 12-for-42 (28.6 percent) on the power play over their last 11 games and have killed off the last 12 power plays against them.
DYNAMIC DUO: Miami’s Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik continue to rack up points together. The duo has combined for 81 points this year (43 for Czarnik and 38 for Barber). That total represents 31.3 percent of MU’s scoring this year.
FINDING A WAY: One of the biggest struggles for Miami this season has been winning close games, but even that is starting to turn around a bit. After starting the year 0-7 in one-goal games, the RedHawks’ last two victories have come in one-goal margins, including last Saturday’s 2-1 win at Denver.
FIRE!: The Red and White took complete command of the game in the third period its regular season finale at Denver, outshooting the Pioneers 24-7 to earn a 2-1 victory on the road. The 24 shots were a season high for a period, completely turning around the tide after being slightly outshot (26-20) in the first two periods combined. The 44 shots on goal were Miami’s most since blasting 45 shots against Canisius on Nov. 2.