After a weekend off for Thanksgiving, No. 4/4 Miami returns to the ice with the long trek to Alaska for a CCHA series Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30-Dec. 1 against the Nanooks at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks. Puck drop is 11:05 p.m. ET/7:05 p.m. AT both nights. The two teams will meet again in Oxford Feb. 1-2.
In the RedHawks' (7-2-3, 4-2-2-2 CCHA) last games, Nov. 16-17, Miami tied and beat Michigan State at home. In the first game of the weekend, the 'Hawks led 2-0 only to see the Spartans score twice in the second stanza to force overtime. The game ended in a 2-2 draw with sophomore Alex Wideman scoring the shootout winner for the second straight game. The next night, freshman goaltender Jay Williams pitched his first shutout as Miami blanked MSU, 2-0, for its second shutout of the year. Wideman had a goal in both games on the weekend, as well. Freshman Riley Barber leads Miami offensively with a CCHA-best 15 points and a team-high 10 assists. Sophomore Austin Czarnik is second with 14 points, including a team-high six goals. Defensively, the 'Hawks are sixth nationally allowing just 1.92 goals per game. Miami, which is riding a five-game unbeaten streak, sits in first place in the CCHA.
The Nanooks (6-5-3, 4-4-2-0 CCHA), who sit in fifth place in the CCHA just two points back of Miami, are coming off a pair of overtime games at Northern Michigan last weekend. On Friday, Alaska led 2-0 only to see NMU rally to take the lead before the Nanooks tied it late with a short-handed goal, however the Wildcats won, 4-3, in the extra session. Saturday, the teams skated to a 2-2 tie with NMU winning the shootout. Alaska, which is 4-2-0 at home this year, has four players tied for the team lead with nine points, including freshman Tyler Morley and senior Andy Taranto, who each have a team-best five goals, and sophomore Trevor Campbell, who has a team-best eight assists. The Nanooks have used three goaltenders this year with freshman John Keeney seeing the most action, making six starts and posting a 1.79 GAA, which is third in the CCHA, while going 2-2-2.
The RedHawks are 36-14-5 all-time against Alaska, first meeting in the 1984-85 season, including 16-7-3 in Fairbanks. Miami won both games at Alaska last year, both 2-1, in the teams' only meetings last season. The RedHawks are 5-0-1 against Alaska in their last three trips up north and have won four straight overall in the series and seven of the last nine meetings.
Enrico Blasi (Miami '94) is in 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 293-186-51 in 14 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.
Dallas Ferguson (Alaska '96) is in his fifth season at the helm of the Nanooks where he has compiled a record of 69-70-27. He was named CCHA Coach of the Year in his first season in charge of UAF (2008-09) and led his alma mater to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history in 2009-10. Prior to taking over the reins at Alaska, he was an assistant at UAF for four years.
- Freshman forward Riley Barber leads the CCHA with 15 points (5g, 10a) this year while his 1.25 points per game is tops among all freshmen nationally and ties for 19th in the country overall. He has a point in nine of 12 games this season, including four multi-point games.
- Sophomore forward Alex Wideman is riding a career-long three-game goal and point streak after scoring a goal in both games against Michigan State in Miami's last games Nov. 16-17. He has four goals and seven points in just six games this season with a point in all but one game.
- Miami's 2-0 victory over Michigan State Nov. 17 was Miami's first win this year when scoring less than three goals. The RedHawks are 6-0-0 when scoring at least three goals this season and improved to 1-2-2 when scoring less than three markers.
- Miami has scored first in eight of its 12 games this year. The RedHawks are 6-1-1 when scoring first this season and 1-1-2 when the opponent scores first.
- Miami's top line of Barber, sophomore Austin Czarnik and senior Curtis McKenzie have accounted for 14 of Miami's 34 goals (41.2%) and 35 of the RedHawks' 85 points (41.2%) this year.
The RedHawks return home to host Lake Superior State Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7-8, in a two-game CCHA series at Steve Cady Arena. Puck drop is 7:35 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
Both games this weekend will have live audio on MURedHawks.com through the Miami All-Access subscription package with the Voice of Miami Hockey, Greg Waddell, calling the action. The games will not be televised but both contests will air on radio as well on both WKBV-AM 1490 out of Richmond, Ind. and WMOH-AM 1450 out of Hamilton, Ohio.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Miami has been strong on defense as of late, pitching a shutout in its last game, Nov. 17 against Michigan State. In their last five games, the RedHawks have not allowed more than two goals in any game. Miami ranks sixth in the country and second in the CCHA, giving up just 1.92 goals per game on the year. The 'Hawks have two shutouts on the season, also blanking Colgate Oct. 12 to open the season, while Miami has limited the opposition to two goals or less in eight of 12 games this year. Freshmen goaltender Jay Williams earned his first shutout against MSU while classmate Ryan McKay pitched the shutout against Colgate.
SPINELL IS ALL CLASS: On Nov. 14 senior defenseman and captain Steven Spinell was named one of 20 candidates for the ice hockey Senior CLASS Award. The award is given annually to one senior student-athlete in several NCAA-sponsored sports and recognizes someone who has had notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. Spinell was one of five CCHA players named a candidate for the award. Miami has had a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award each of the last two years with goalie Cody Reichard being named a finalist in 2011-12 and forward Carter Camper earning the distinction in 2010-11. The candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season with the winner being announced April 12 at the Frozen Four.
THE BARBER SHOP: Freshman forward Riley Barber has had a stellar start to his collegiate career, already picking up a national award and three awards from the CCHA.
- Barber's 15 points lead the CCHA and are first nationally among rookies while his 1.25 ppg is 19th nationally. His 10 assists are tops on the team and second in the CCHA.
- He has a point in nine of 12 games this year and had a five-game point streak from Oct. 13 to Oct. 27. He has four multi-point games this year as well.
- Barber was named CCHA Rookie of the Week for the second time this year on Nov. 12 after a four-point weekend against Northern Michigan Nov. 9-10 with a goal and three assists.
- He was named Hockey Commissioners' Association (HCA) National Rookie of the Month and CCHA Rookie of the Month for October after posting a 4-4-8 line in six games during the month.
- On Oct. 20 Barber recorded a career-high three points, his first multi-point game, including his first two career assists. He tallied another three-point game Nov. 9 vs. NMU (one goal, two assists).
- Barber earned his first CCHA honor Oct. 22 as he was named CCHA Rookie of the Week after a four-point weekend against Providence Oct. 19-20 with two goals and two assists.
- Williams was named CCHA Rookie of the Week following the Michigan State series Nov. 16-17. He allowed just two goals all weekend, pitching his first career shutout in the 2-0 win Nov. 17. He also stopped both shootout attempts by MSU Nov. 16 as Miami won the shootout. Williams stopped 32 of 34 shots for a .941 save percentage and 0.96 GAA.
- Williams has played every minute the last six games and all but five minutes in a weekend split at Michigan Oct. 26-27. He was forced into action Oct. 26 after McKay was injured early in the game. Williams made a career-high 37 saves in a 4-3 win at Michigan Oct. 27, matching Miami's season high for saves from last year.
- Williams boasts a 6-2-2 record with his .700 win percentage tying for 15th nationally while his 2.18 GAA is sixth in the CCHA.
- Williams made his first start Oct. 13 vs. Colgate and earned his first career win, giving up just one goal while making 20 saves.
- McKay got the nod on opening night vs. Colgate Oct. 12 and pitched a 24-save shutout, becoming the first Miami goalie to record a whitewash in his first career game.
- The shutout was Miami's first season-opening shutout in program history.
- McKay made a career-high 37 saves Oct. 19 in a tie vs. Providence, matching Miami's season high for saves from last year.
- McKay has allowed just one goal all year in three games and boasts a 0.46 goals-against average and a .984 save percentage, both of which would be first in the NCAA if he had played enough games to be eligible for NCAA statistics.
CZARNIK IS SHORT-HANDED: Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik has three short-handed goals this year, which is first in the country by himself, with all of them coming in the last eight games. In fact, only four other players in the NCAA have two short-handed goals this season so far. Half of Czarnik's six goals this year have come a man down. He now already has five career short-handed goals, which ties him for fifth in school history.
SUPER SOPHOMORES: Miami's sophomore class has picked up where they left off as freshmen, as the six second years have accounted for 17 of Miami's 34 goals (50.0 percent) and 39 of the squad's 85 points (45.9 percent) this year. Austin Czarnik has a team-high six goals and eight assists while Alex Wideman has four goals and seven points and Cody Murphy has five assists, including a career-high three assists Oct. 13, and seven points. Blake Coleman has four goals and six points on the year, Jimmy Mullin has a goal and three assists and Ben Paulides has one helper. Last year as freshmen they scored 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. A sophomore has scored in 10 of 12 games this year. 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 on the team who aren't sophomores combined for just 15 goals and 52 points in 2011-12.
MR. OCTOBER: After a stellar freshman campaign, sophomore forward Austin Czarnik has picked up where he left off. He was named to the Preseason All-CCHA Second Team and has certainly played up to that billing thus far.
- Czarnik's 14 points are second on the team and tie for second in the CCHA while his six goals are tops on the team and tie for fourth in the CCHA.
- Czarnik, who had a four-game point streak from Oct. 19-27, has a point in eight of 12 games this year, including four multi-point games. He already has two multi-goal games this year after recording just one last year as a freshman.
- He earned CCHA Player of the Month for October on Nov. 1 after posting a 3-5-8 scoring line in six games. He continued his tear with two goals against Ferris State to start November.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Freshman forward Sean Kuraly scored his first career goal Nov. 3 at Ferris State on the power play. After not scoring his first seven games, he then scored for the second time in three games Nov. 10 vs. NMU with both of his goals coming on the power play. Kuraly needs only 99 more goals to catch his father, 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.
FRESH FACES: Of the 11 freshmen on Miami's 2012-13 roster, nine of them saw their first collegiate action Oct. 12-13 against Colgate (forwards Riley Barber, Alex Gacek, Sean Kuraly and Kevin Morris and defensemen Matthew Caito, Chris Joyaux and Taylor Richart) while defenseman Michael Mooney made his debut Oct. 20 vs. Providence and John Doherty played his first game Nov. 16 vs. Michigan State. Goaltenders Ryan McKay and Jay Williams have split time this year and each earned their first win against Colgate. Eight newcomers have notched their first point at Miami so far:
- Richart tallied his first point on an assist Nov. 17 vs. Michigan State.
- Caito scored his first career goal Nov. 9 vs. NMU and added an assist for his first multi-point game. He picked up his first career point on an assist Oct. 20 vs. Providence.
- Kuraly logged his first point on a goal Nov. 3 at Ferris State on the power play.
- Gacek recorded his first career point on the game-tying goal in a 4-3 win at Michigan Oct. 27.
- Morris dished out his first assist on Gacek's goal and scored his first point on a goal Oct. 13 vs. Colgate in the second period, which turned out to be the game-winner.
- Barber also scored a goal Oct. 13 vs. Colgate on the power play in the third period for his first point. He totaled three points Oct. 20 vs. Providence, including his first two assists, and has four multi-point games this year.
- Joyaux had an assist on Miami's final goal Oct. 13 for his first career point.
- Senior Marc Hagel, a transfer from Princeton, notched his first point as a RedHawk with an assist on Miami's first goal of the season Oct. 12 vs. Colgate.
- Miami has already played in four overtime games this year, going 1-0-3 in those games. The RedHawks played seven overtime games last year and went 1-4-2.
- The RedHawks played Northern Michigan to a 2-2 overtime tie Nov. 10 and went on to win the shootout with sophomore Alex Wideman scoring the clinching goal. It was Miami's first official shootout this year and first since Nov. 19, 2011 against Bowling Green, which Miami lost. The shootout win Nov. 10 was Miami's first CCHA shootout win since Nov. 12, 2011 against Michigan.
- Miami then also won a shootout against Michigan State Nov. 16 after a 2-2 overtime tie with Wideman again scoring the clinching goal. The RedHawks, already 2-0 in shootouts this year, went 1-1 in shootouts last year.
- Miami played its first two overtime games of the season against Providence Oct. 19-20, earning a tie Friday and a win in the extra session Saturday. The last time Miami played back-to-back overtime games in the same weekend was Jan. 28-29, 2011 against Notre Dame, both of which ended in ties. Miami won an unofficial shootout vs. Providence on Oct. 19.
CLASSY SENIORS: Miami's senior class has compiled 83 career wins, which already ranks ninth 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.