After opening the season with a 6-2 exhibition victory over Western Ontario last Sunday, No. 8/8 Miami begins the 2012-13 regular season this weekend hosting Colgate in a two-game non-conference series Friday and Saturday, Oct. 12-13, at Steve Cady Arena. Puck drop Friday is at 7:35 p.m. while Saturday is at 7:05 p.m. and will be the first of two Skate with the 'Hawks Nights when fans can skate with the team following the game.
Miami is coming off a 24-15-2 season in which the RedHawks made their seventh straight NCAA Tournament appearance and finished fourth in the CCHA. Miami lost 12 letterwinners from a year ago, including 10 seniors and junior Reilly Smith, who turned pro after scoring 30 goals a year ago, which was second nationally. Miami brings in 13 newcomers, including 11 freshmen, to help fill the void while the 'Hawks return 10 letterwinners from a year ago. The RedHawks' sophomore class will lead the way offensively as Austin Czarnik had a team-high 27 assists as a freshman and scored two goals in the exhibition win Sunday while Blake Coleman and Jimmy Mullin each tallied at least 11 goals in their rookie campaign and scored in the exhibition, as well.
Colgate started regular-season play on Tuesday with a 10-2 defeat over Niagara as Robbie Bourdon, Billy Rivellini and Kurtis Bartliff each scored two goals with Bourdon also tallying a pair of assists. The Raiders are coming off a 19-17-3 campaign in which they finished fourth in the ECAC. Colgate returns 16 letterwinners from last year's team but lost 11, including its top two scorers.
Miami is 2-2-0 all-time against Colgate. The teams split at Colgate last year with the RedHawks winning the first night, 4-3, before falling, 3-2, in overtime the next night. The teams have never played each other in Oxford.
Enrico Blasi (Miami '94) begins his 14th season at Miami. He is a four-time CCHA Coach of the Year and was named National Coach of the Year in 2005-06. He stands 286-184-48 in 13 seasons at his alma mater, where he has led Miami to eight NCAA Tournaments, including two Frozen Four berths, a National Championship game appearance, a pair of CCHA regular-season titles and the school's first ever Mason Cup in 2011. Blasi is the the winningest coach in school history.
Don Vaughan (St. Lawrence '84) is in his 20th season at Colgate, compiling a record of 314-311-71 in his time behind the Raiders' bench, which is his only head coaching job. He was named ECAC Coach of the Year in 2000 and has guided Colgate to a pair of NCAA Tournament berths, most recently in 2005. The Raiders also won the 2005-06 ECAC regular-season title under Vaughan and have compiled four 20-win seasons during his time as head coach.
- The RedHawks' roster features as many newcomers as it does returners with 13 new faces joining Miami in 2012-13 while the 'Hawks bring back 13 players from a year ago, including 10 letterwinners. Of the 26 players on the roster, 18 are freshmen or sophomores.
- A total of nine freshmen played in Sunday's exhibition, including both goaltenders, while four of them recorded points. Riley Barber tallied three assists and Kevin Morris had a goal and an assist while Taylor Richart and Alex Gacek each handed out an assist.
- Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik was named to the Preseason All-CCHA Second Team this year after leading all CCHA freshmen last year with 37 points, earning him CCHA All-Rookie Team honors. He enters the season riding a career-long seven-game point streak and tallied two goals in the exhibition game last Sunday.
- The RedHawks are 14-16-4 all-time in season openers and 22-10-2 in home openers. Under head coach Enrico Blasi, Miami is 7-4-2 in season openers and 10-3-0 in home openers.
The RedHawks continue their season-opening four-game homestand hosting Hockey East foe Providence, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 19-20 at Steve Cady Arena. Puck drop is 7:35 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
Both games this weekend will be streamed live on MURedHawks.com in HD through the Miami All-Access subscription package with Dave Allen calling the play-by-play. The games will not be televised but both contests will air on radio on WKBV-AM 1490 out of Richmond, Ind. with the Voice of Miami Hockey, Greg Waddell, calling the action.
OPENING STATEMENT: The RedHawks are 14-16-4 all-time in season openers and 22-10-2 in home openers. The RedHawks are 4-1-1 in their last six season openers, as Miami was unbeaten in five straight season openers until falling to Bemidji State at home in last year's opener. The home-opening loss was also Miami's first home-opening loss since the 2001-02 season as Miami had gone nine years unbeaten in home openers. Under head coach Enrico Blasi, Miami is 7-4-2 in season openers and 10-3-0 in home openers.
FRESH FACES: Miami's 2012-13 team will have a new look to it after bringing in 13 newcomers, including 11 freshmen, to join forces with the 13 returning RedHawks, which includes 10 letterwinners. Of the 26 players on the roster, 18 are freshmen or sophomores while one is a senior transfer (Marc Hagel from Princeton). Miami, which returns just 45 percent of its goal scoring from last year and 48.4 percent of its points, is looking to replace the fourth-winningest class in school history, as the 10 seniors from last year compiled 99 wins in their career, went to four NCAA Tournaments, two Frozen Fours and won both a Mason Cup and CCHA regular-season title. In addition, the 'Hawks lost would-be senior Reilly Smith, a Hobey Baker Finalist last year who was second nationally with 30 goals, as he signed with the Dallas Stars. Miami also lost would-be sophomore Tyler Biggs, who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
FRESHMEN HELPERS: A total of nine freshmen played in the exhibition game Oct. 7, including both goaltenders, while four of them recorded points, combining for a goal and six of Miami's 10 assists in the win. Forward Riley Barber dished out three assists, tying a Miami single-game high from last year, while forward Kevin Morris had a goal and an assist. Defenseman Taylor Richart and forward Alex Gacek each handed out an assist as well.
NEW IN NET: Freshman goaltender Jay Williams started in net for the RedHawks in the exhibition game Oct. 7, playing the first half of the game (30:38) before giving way to classmate Ryan McKay, who finished out the game. Williams allowed two goals and made six saves while McKay also had six stops without allowing a goal. The freshmen duo is the first freshmen goalies to play since Connor Knapp and Cody Reichard did so as freshmen in 2008-09. Williams and McKay have big shoes to fill as Knapp and Reichard shared the starting goaltender position all four years and both finished in Miami's career top four in goals-against average, save percentage, wins and shutouts with Knapp setting the career GAA and shutouts records.
POLLING AROUND: The RedHawks moved up one spot to eighth in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and the USCHO.com Poll for week one after ranking ninth in the preseason polls. The RedHawks finished eighth last season in the USCHO Poll and 10th in the USA Today Poll and spent six weeks of the season ranked in the top 10 in the national polls. The complete national polls can be found on page 4.
CZARNIK EARNS PRESEASON HONOR: After a stellar freshman campaign, sophomore forward Austin Czarnik was named to the Preseason All-CCHA Second Team. He was a CCHA All-Rookie Team member last year when he led all CCHA freshmen with 37 points, which was second on the team, while his 27 assists were first for Miami. Czarnik is the second-leading returning scorer in the CCHA behind Notre Dame's T.J. Tynan, who had 41 points a year ago. He was also named among USCHO.com's 10 forwards to watch in 2012-13.
SUPER SOPHOMORES: Miami's sophomore class was spectacular in their freshmen campaign, scoring 40.2 percent of the team's goals (49 of 122) while at least one freshman scored a goal in 27 of Miami's 41 games in 2011-12. Last year's newcomers also accounted for 122 of Miami's 323 points, or 37.8 percent. The entire class returns except for forward Tyler Biggs, who had nine goals and 17 points before deciding to turn pro. The seven returners who aren't sophomores combined for just 15 goals and 52 points in 2011-12.
PRESEASON PICKS: The CCHA released its preseason polls Oct. 3 and Miami was tabbed to finish fourth in the coaches poll and landed fifth in the media poll. Michigan was picked to win in the media poll while Notre Dame topped the coaches poll.
CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN: Senior defenseman Steven Spinell was named Miami's captain on Sept. 13. He will be the only RedHawk to wear a letter this year after Miami lost all three of its tri-captains (Alden Hirschfeld, Reilly Smith and Will Weber) from last season. Spinell was one of just three RedHawks to play in all 41 games last year and has played in 109 games in his career, which is third among active RedHawks. He blocked a team-high 70 shots last year while totaling a career-high 12 points, including 11 assists.
CELEBRATE THE LEGACY: The 2012-13 season will be Miami's 32nd and final season in the CCHA, as the conference will close its doors following the year. The CCHA is Miami's first and only conference since making hockey a varsity sport in 1978, as Miami joined the league for the 1981-82 season. Miami has won three regular-season titles and one Mason Cup (2011) in its time in the CCHA. Starting in 2013-14, the RedHawks will play in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), of which Miami was a founding member. Also joining Miami as a founding member of the NCHC was Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska Omaha and North Dakota. St. Cloud State and Western Michigan, who is currently in the CCHA, have since joined "The National," creating an eight-team league. Five of the eight NCHC teams earned a berth in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Miami's lone incoming freshman from Ohio is Sean Kuraly, the son of Rick Kuraly, who is Miami's all-time leading goal scorer with 101 goals from 1979-83 and ranks third in career points (179). Sean is the first son of a former Miami player to suit up for the RedHawks. The younger Kuraly was taken in the fifth round (133rd overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks and promises to be a key contributor on offense for the Red and White this season.
CONSISTENTLY AT THE TOP: Miami finished 2011-12 CCHA regular-season play with a 15-11-2-1 record, earning them fourth place in the standings. Miami has finished in the top four in the CCHA standings each of the last seven years, something no other team in the league has done. During that stretch, the 'Hawks have won the regular-season title twice, finished runner-up once and have three third-place finishes in addition to last year's fourth-place finish.
CLASSY SENIORS: Miami's senior class has compiled 76 career wins, which already ranks tied for eighth in program history. The class has been a part of a Frozen Four team as freshmen when they also won a CCHA regular-season title and helped the RedHawks win their first ever Mason Cup (CCHA Tournament title) as sophomores. The class of Joe Hartman, Garrett Kennedy, Steve Mason, Curtis McKenzie and Steven Spinell has been to the NCAA Tournament all three years, as well.