May 13, 2011
OXFORD, Ohio - Featuring 18 home games, Miami University hockey's 2011-12 schedule was announced Friday by head coach Enrico Blasi. The RedHawks open at home for the third straight year while the slate features a pair of home non-conference series', a Thanksgiving weekend tournament against a former Miami mentor and two home-and-home weekends with rival Ohio State.
Miami will battle four NCAA Tournament teams from this past year, including two from the Frozen Four in CCHA foes Michigan and Notre Dame. The Wolverines and Irish both come to Oxford, Michigan for a second straight year and Notre Dame for a third consecutive season, as does Western Michigan, who was also in the NCAA Tournament.
"It's a real tough non-conference and tough league schedule. We're excited that it presents us with a lot of challenges. With the young team we'll have next year it should be fun to see what happens week to week," Blasi said. "Having to play in the CCHA week in and week out, it's a grind, it's a battle. All the teams are so well prepared that you really have to be at your best to compete at our level. In our league, to be one of the top teams you have to be consistent."
After a home exhibition contest against Windsor on Sunday, Oct. 2, Miami officially begins its 2011-12 slate Oct. 7-8 by hosting Bemidji State of the WCHA. The RedHawks are 3-1 all-time against the Beavers but the two squads have never met in Oxford, last meeting on neutral ice in 2008-09 (a Miami win in the Frozen Four) and 2009-10 (a BSU win in North Dakota). Miami then travels to Hamilton, New York to face ECAC foe Colgate Oct. 14-15. The `Hawks are 1-1 against the Raiders previously, knocking off Colgate, 14-2, Nov. 29, 1996 in the only meeting in Hamilton. The teams last met Dec. 27, 1998 - a Raider victory.
"I think our non-conference schedule is very tough. We have Bemidji State, which is a team that's continuing to rise playing in the WCHA. We have some history with Bemidji in the NCAA Tournament and they're well coached and they'll be ready. They're always a team that can skate and can present problems for you if you're not ready to go," Blasi added. "As for Colgate, Coach (Don) Vaughan does a great job with them. They're always a team that's tough to play against and is well structured. They'll give you everything they have so you have to be ready and those games are on the road."
CCHA action begins Oct. 21-22 as Miami heads to Big Rapids, Mich. to take on Ferris State before returning home Oct. 28-29 to welcome Lake Superior State for its league home-opening weekend. After a long trek to Alaska Nov. 4-5, the RedHawks host a pair of home series' as Michigan comes calling Nov. 11-12 followed by a visit from former Miami assistant coach and player and Bowling Green head coach Chris Bergeron and his Falcons.
On Thanksgiving weekend, the `Hawks compete in the Denver Cup, facing Providence or Princeton on Nov. 25 before clashing with the host Pioneers, led by former Miami head coach George Gwozdecky, Nov. 26. Miami last met Denver in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament, a RedHawk victory, but Miami is just 3-4 all-time against the Pioneers.
"We're not sure yet if we're playing Princeton or Providence but both teams have new coaches and they'll be eager to prove to everyone that they can play at a high level so that will be exciting," Blasi said. "Saturday night will be a rematch of Miami/Denver, which playing in Denver in front of their fans against Coach Gwozdecky with his history at Miami -- it's going to be a pretty good game with two good teams going at it so that will be exciting at Thanksgiving."
A road trip to Northern Michigan follows the Denver Cup while the `Hawks and Buckeyes play the first of their home-and-home weekends Dec. 9 (at OSU) and Dec. 10 (in Oxford). The in-state rivals also close out the regular season Feb. 24 in Oxford and Feb. 25 in Columbus.
The second half of the season starts Jan. 6-7 at Michigan State followed by a return trip to Lake Superior State. Western Michigan, led by former RedHawk assistant coach Jeff Blashill, visits Steve Cady Arena Jan. 20-21 as Miami begins a stretch of nine home games over its last six weekends. After a home weekend with Northern Michigan, the `Hawks head north to Ann Arbor for another meeting with the Wolverines Feb. 3-4.
A final non-conference home series with Alabama-Huntsville is set for Feb. 10-11 while the Fighting Irish face Miami for the only time in the regular season Feb. 17-18 at Steve Cady Arena. The series with OSU then wraps up the regular season.
"Coach Chris Luongo's done a great job maintaining Alabama-Huntsville and keeping them playing at a high level. We're excited to have them here in February," Blasi noted.
Hockey ticket renewal forms will be mailed to season ticket holders in the coming weeks. Any fans interested in becoming a season ticket holder should contact the Miami Athletic Ticket Office at 513-529-HAWK (4295) or 1-866-MUHAWKS (684-2957) to be added to the waiting list. Single game tickets will go on sale Sept. 14.
The RedHawks are coming off a 23-10-6 season in which they captured their first Mason Cup after winning the CCHA Tournament and finished third in the CCHA regular season. Miami returns 16 letterwinners from this past year's NCAA Tournament squad while losing five seniors.
Game times for the 2011-12 schedule will be announced later this year.