April 11, 2012

By Melissa Maykut

OXFORD, Ohio - With the regular season of the National Hockey League (NHL) over, four Miami Hockey alumni are eager to lace up their skates and head back to the ice to kick off the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which begin Wednesday night. Dan Boyle, Tommy Wingels and the rest of the San Jose Sharks will meet the St. Louis Blues Thursday night for game one of the best-of-seven series. Andy Greene and the New Jersey Devils will battle the Florida Panthers for game one of their series on Friday while Alec Martinez and the Los Angeles Kings will face the Vancouver Canucks for game one Wednesday night.

Boyle (1994-98) was a two-time First-Team All-America defenseman for Miami. He led Miami with 43 assists during the 1996-1997 season and his 107 career assists ranks third in Miami history behind Steve Morris ('83) and Carter Camper ('11). Boyle has now reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs nine times during his career and is looking to win the Stanley Cup for a second time like he did in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Boyle has appeared in 84 playoff games and had a career-best playoff performance last season with a 4-12-16 scoring line in 18 games. For a second consecutive season, Boyle has led all San Jose defensemen with 48 points on nine goals and 39 assists with the 39 helpers the second most among all San Jose players in 2011-2012.

Boyle's younger teammate, Wingels (2007-10), was a Second-Team All-CCHA selection in 2009-10 as a RedHawk. Wingels played in five games his rookie season for the San Jose Sharks, and spent most of his season playing for the Sharks' AHL affiliate team, the Worcester Sharks. This year, the center played in 33 games for San Jose, racking up nine points on three goals and six assists. Wingels will make his Stanley Cup Playoff debut Thursday.

Greene (2002-06) was a Second-Team All-America defenseman in 2005 and a First-Team All-American in 2006 for the RedHawks as well as a three-time First-Team All-CCHA selection. He has appeared in 21 playoff games over his four Stanley Cup Playoff appearances and has three goals and three assists each. Greene appeared in 56 regular season games for the 2011-2012 season, earning 16 points on one goal and 15 assists.

Martinez (2005-08) was a Second-Team All-America defensemen in 2008 and named First-Team All-CCHA for the RedHawks that same season. He made his first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance with the Los Angeles Kings last season, recording one assist in the six playoff games he played. During the 2011-2012 season, Martinez earned 12 points from the six goals and six assists he tallied in the 51 games he played.

These four former Miami hockey players are not the only ones making a Stanley Cup Playoff appearance this season with Miami connections, however. Two coaches who have left their mark on Miami hockey - Jeff Blashill from the Detroit Red Wings and Mitch Korn from the Nashville Predators - will face each other in the first round of the playoffs starting Wednesday.

Blashill, an assistant coach for the RedHawks from 2002-2008 under current head coach Enrico Blasi, will make his first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance as an assistant coach for the Red Wings. During his six years that he coached for Miami, the RedHawks qualified for the NCAA Tournament four times. Before going to the NHL, Blashill coached the Western Michigan Broncos, leading them to a 19-13-10 record and a trip to the CCHA Tournament final as well as the NCAA Tournament.

Korn has been the goaltender coach for the Nashville Predators for 14 seasons. He coached goaltenders at Miami for several years and was one of the program's first assistant coaches before moving up to coach for the Buffalo Sabres in 1991. He stayed with the Sabres for seven years before going to coach the Predators. Korn has mentored prestigious goaltenders such as two-time Hart Trophy winner Dominik Hasek and Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne.

Blashill and the fourth-seeded Red Wings travel to Nashville to face Korn and the fifth-seeded Predators tonight at 8 p.m. (ET) for game one of the series. The game will be televised on CNBC. Martinez and the Kings face the Canucks in Vancouver tonight at 10:30 p.m. (ET). The game can be viewed on CBC and the NBC Sports Network.

--MURedHawks.com--