After completing an eight-game road swing, the No. 6/6 Miami hockey team returns home for the first time in 48 days (since Dec. 8) to host CCHA foe Bowling Green Friday and Saturday, Jan. 25-26, at Steve Cady Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:35 p.m. Friday while Saturday's contest starts at 7:05 p.m. The series is the only regular-season meetings between the teams. The RedHawks are 6-1-3 at home this year.
Miami (13-6-5, 8-4-4-4 CCHA) enters the weekend in third place in the CCHA, just one point back of Notre Dame and Western Michigan, which are tied for first. The RedHawks are coming off their final non-conference series of the season as Miami split at WCHA foe Wisconsin last weekend. The 'Hawks were shut out for the fourth time this year on Friday, as the Badgers scored midway through the third period to hand Miami a 1-0 loss. The RedHawks responded Saturday to earn a 2-1 win, snapping Miami's season-long four-game winless streak and ending Wisconsin's 11-game unbeaten streak and seven-game winning streak. Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik scored early on the power play and senior forward Curtis McKenzie tallied the game-winner late in the second period to give the 'Hawks their first ever win over UW. Freshman goaltenders Jay Williams and Ryan McKay split duties again. Williams, who played Friday, has not allowed more than two goals in any of his last 11 starts, while McKay is first nationally with a 0.97 GAA and .964 save percentage after Saturday's win. Czarnik leads the CCHA with 26 points, including a team-high 17 assists, while freshman forward Riley Barber is second in the league with 25 points, which leads all NCAA freshmen. Both have a team-high nine goals.
Bowling Green (8-11-5, 5-8-3-1 CCHA), which sits in a tie for ninth place in the CCHA with Michigan, is 5-1-1 in its last seven games after having its six-game unbeaten streak snapped by Western Michigan on Saturday. The Falcons have picked up wins over Michigan and then-No. 5 Notre Dame during their recent success and also topped the Broncos last Friday at home before playing at WMU the next night. In Friday's 3-2 win over then-No. 10 Western Michigan, the two teams were tied after two periods before Dajon Mingo scored early in the third period for the game-winner. WMU handed BGSU a 2-1 loss Saturday, scoring a goal in each of the final two periods after the Falcons jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Senior goaltender Andrew Hammond, who was in net both nights, carries a 2.58 GAA and .916 save percentage. Sophomore forward Ryan Carpenter leads BGSU with 19 points and 10 goals on the year.
Miami is unbeaten in its last 14 games against the Falcons (13-0-1), going 2-0-1 last year, and 18-1-1 vs. BGSU in the teams' last 20 meetings. Despite Miami's recent success, BGSU still controls the all-time series, 58-44-8, going back to 1978. In Oxford, Miami leads 27-24-3, with the 'Hawks going 13-0-1 at home vs. BGSU in the last 14 matchups, including a win and a tie a season ago. Head coach Enrico Blasi is 28-8-3 (.756) against BGSU at the helm of Miami.
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 299-190-53 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.
Chris Bergeron (Miami '93) is in his third season in charge of Bowling Green, where he has compiled a career record of 32-63-14. He led BGSU to the CCHA semifinals in just his second year. Prior to taking over at BGSU, Bergeron was an assistant coach at Miami under Enrico Blasi for 10 years and also played with Blasi at Miami for three years. He was a two-time captain at Miami and helped lead the Redskins to the program's first ever CCHA regular-season championship as a player.
- Head coach Enrico Blasi boasts a career record of 299-190-53, all at Miami. With one win against the Falcons this weekend, he would become the first hockey coach to win 300 games at Miami as he is already the school's all-time winningest coach.
- Both head coaches this weekend played for and graduated from Miami. BGSU third-year head coach Chris Bergeron played for the Redskins from 1989-93, including three years with Miami head coach Enrico Blasi, who played for the Redskins from 1990-94. Both were two-time captains. Bergeron was also an assistant/associate coach at Miami under Blasi from 2000-2010.
- Miami is tied for first nationally on defense (with Quinnipiac), giving up just 1.58 goals per game, including only 11 goals in its last nine contests. The RedHawks have limited opponents to two goals or less in 16 of their last 17 games and one goal or less in nine of their last 13 contests.
- Prior to Friday's game, freshman forwards Riley Barber and Sean Kuraly will be recognized for helping the U.S. National Junior Team win the gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship on Jan. 5 in Ufa, Russia. They are the first Miami players to ever win gold at the WJC.
The RedHawks remain at home next weekend, hosting Alaska Friday and Saturday, Feb. 1-2, at Steve Cady Arena. Puck drop Friday is at 7:35 p.m. while Saturday's contest is set for 7:05 p.m. Miami swept the Nanooks in Alaska earlier this year (Nov. 30-Dec. 1) with 5-2 and 4-0 victories.
Both games this weekend will be televised locally and throughout Ohio on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel (channel 311/1311 HD) with Dave Allen handling play-by-play and Josh Fenton providing color commentary. Friday's game will air on SportsTime Ohio, as well. Saturday's contest will also be on radio on WMOH-AM 1450 out of Hamilton, Ohio and WKBV-AM 1490 out of Richmond, Ind. with the "Voice of Miami Hockey" Greg Waddell calling the action. As always, the games will also be streamed live on MURedHawks.com in HD through the Miami All-Access subscription package.
MIAMI MEN: Both head coaches this weekend played for and graduated from Miami. BGSU third-year head coach Chris Bergeron played for the Redskins from 1989-93, including three years with Miami head coach Enrico Blasi, who played for the Redskins from 1990-94. Both were two-time captains. Bergeron was also an assistant/associate coach at Miami under Blasi from 2000-2010. An assistant coach for each team also has Miami ties as RedHawk assistant coach Nick Petraglia was a goaltender at Miami from 2000-04. BGSU assistant Barry Schutte, who was the director of the Goggin Ice Center before coaching the Falcons, played for Miami, as well. Schutte was a captain as a senior, playing from 1993-97.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Miami's strength this year has been its defense, as the RedHawks are tied for first nationally with Quinnipiac, allowing just 1.58 goals per game. The RedHawks have limited the opposition to two goals or less in 16 of their last 17 contests (Northern Michigan scored three goals Jan. 12), including three shutouts, and one goal or less in nine of their last 13 contests. Miami has a total of four 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 19 of 24 games this year.
CLOSE CONTESTS: After only two of Miami's first 14 games were decided by one goal, seven of the RedHawks' last 10 contests have been one-goal games while two others were ties. Miami is 5-4 in one-goal contests this year, but has won just one of the last four after winning each of its first three one-goal games. The RedHawks most recently split a pair of one-goal games at Wisconsin, falling, 1-0, Jan. 18, before picking up a 2-1 win the next night. Miami's first one-goal loss was a1-0 loss to Lake Superior Dec. 8 while three of the four one-goal losses have been 1-0 scores. A key to close games has been scoring first, which Miami has done in 14 of 24 games this year, going 11-2-1 in such contests.
PK A-OK: Miami has killed 31 of its opponents last 32 power plays (.969) dating back to Dec. 8 against Lake Superior, with the lone power play goal allowed at Northern Michigan Jan. 11. After allowing the man advantage goal, the RedHawks went 6-for-6 on the PK the next night vs. NMU and were 6-for-6 at Wisconsin Jan. 18-19. Miami has been perfect on the penalty kill in 14 of the team's 24 games this year. The 'Hawks rank eighth nationally and second in the CCHA on the PK, killing 89.1 percent of their penalties, while their 98 kills (out of 110 power plays) are third-most in the country.
NEW IN NET, NOT A PROBLEM: Miami has used both of its freshman goaltenders this season. Jay Williams has started 15 games, including eight straight from Oct. 27 to Nov. 30, while Ryan McKay has started nine games after suffering an injury earlier this season. Both have already earned awards for their play, as well.
- McKay leads the country with a 0.97 goals-against average and a .964 save percentage while no other netminder has a GAA lower than 1.46. He allowed three goals Jan. 12 at Northern Michigan, the only time in nine starts he has allowed more than one goal in a game, however he stopped all five shootout attempts in the 3-3 tie. In nine starts this year, he has allowed just eight goals, including two on the power play (one 5-on-3).
- After posting a 0.76 GAA and .970 save percentage in four starts in December, McKay was named both CCHA Goaltender of the Month and Hockey Commissioners' Association National Rookie of the Month, his first awards at Miami. He allowed just three goals while pitching a shutout during the month.
- In his first game back in net after being injured Oct. 26 at Michigan, McKay showed no signs of rust, stopping all 26 shots at Alaska Dec. 1 for his second career shutout in four games.
- McKay got the nod on opening night vs. Colgate Oct. 12 and pitched his first shutout, making 24 saves to become 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.
- Williams boasts a 9-4-3 record, while his nine-game unbeaten streak (6-0-3) was snapped with a 2-1 loss at Northern Michigan Jan. 11. However, he still has not allowed more than two goals in any of his last 11 starts. His 1.86 GAA is fifth in the CCHA and 13th nationally while his .927 save percentage is also fifth in the CCHA and 17th nationally.
- Williams stopped all three shootout attempts by Ohio State Dec. 14 after a 1-1 tie and is 7-for-7 on the year in CCHA shootout attempts, as he is yet to concede a goal in three shootouts.
- 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 earned his second career shutout Dec. 28 against Ohio State in the opening round of the Three Rivers Classic, making 29 saves, including two breakaways, as Miami won, 1-0.
- Williams had played in 10 straight games after he was forced into action Oct. 26 when McKay was injured early in the game before giving way to McKay's return Dec. 1. 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 made his first start Oct. 13 vs. Colgate and earned his first career win, giving up just one goal while making 20 saves.
The freshman duo replaces Connor Knapp and Cody Reichard, who shared the starting goaltender position the last 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.
THE BARBER SHOP: Freshman forward Riley Barber has had a stellar start to his collegiate career, already picking up a national award and five awards from the CCHA.
- Barber's 25 points are second in the CCHA behind sophomore teammate Austin Czarnik and are first nationally among rookies, while his 1.14 ppg are 23rd in the NCAA among all players. His 16 assists are third in the CCHA while his nine goals tie Czarnik for the team lead.
- He has a point in 16 of his 22 games this year and had a five-game point streak from Oct. 13 to Oct. 27. He has seven multi-point games this year, including three multi-assist games.
- Barber earned his third CCHA Gongshow® Rookie of the Week honor Dec. 17 after tallying three points at Ohio State Dec. 14-15. He earned two primary assists, one each night, and added an empty-net goal Dec. 15 to seal the win.
- On Dec. 4, Barber was named CCHA Gongshow® Rookie of the Month for November, his second straight month winning the award. He tallied nine points, including seven assists, in seven games during November. He notched his first career game-winning goal Nov. 30 at Alaska, 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.
UNDERCLASSMAN ON TOP: 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 26 points lead the CCHA, while his 17 assists are second in the CCHA. His nine goals tie for the team lead with freshman teammate Riley Barber and tie for eighth in the CCHA.
- Czarnik, who had a four-game point streak from Oct. 19-27, has a point in 15 of 24 games this year, including eight multi-point games. He already has two multi-goal games this year after recording just one last year as a freshman.
- Czarnik was named CCHA Postgame® Offensive Player of the Week Dec. 3 after totaling five points on a goal and four assists in a sweep of Alaska Nov. 30-Dec. 1. It was his first time winning the award.
- He earned CCHA Player of the Month for October on Nov. 1 after posting a 3-5-8 scoring line in six games. It was his first such honor though he was named CCHA Rookie of the Month last year in November.
GOLDEN BOYS: Freshman forwards Riley Barber and Sean Kuraly became the first RedHawks to win a gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship (WJC) as the duo helped the U.S. National Junior Team win the under-20 tournament in Ufa, Russia, held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. The freshmen became the sixth and seventh RedHawks to compete at the WJC and the first RedHawks to win any medal at the WJC since goaltender Jeff Zatkoff won a bronze with the U.S. in 2007. Barber finished with six points in seven games on three goals and assists each while Kuraly tallied three points on a goal and two assists while posting a +4 rating. The gold medal for the U.S. was just the country's third in the nearly 40-year history of the tournament.
MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER: The RedHawks fired 44 shots on goal Jan. 11 in a 2-1 loss to Northern Michigan, its fourth-highest shot total of the season and the fifth time this year Miami has topped 40 shots on goal. The 'Hawks are just 2-3-0 when putting 40 or more shots on target, however, losing each of the last three times it has happened. Miami put a season-high 51 shots on net Dec. 29 against Robert Morris, a 1-0 defeat, and 46 on target in a 1-0 loss to Lake Superior State Dec. 8. On the flip side, Miami is 11-3-5 when taking less than 40 shots this year. The RedHawks held Wisconsin to just 20 shots Jan. 18 but suffered their fourth loss when limiting the opposition to less than 30 shots on goal as Miami is now 10-4-4 this year when holding opponents to less than 30 shots on goal.
BONUS HOCKEY: Miami has already played in six overtime games this year, going 1-0-5 in those contests. The RedHawks played seven overtime games last year and went 1-4-2.
- Miami's last two extra-session games have come on the road, including Jan. 12 at Northern Michigan -- a 3-3 tie. The first came at Ohio State, Dec. 14, which was a 1-1 tie. The RedHawks won both shootouts, 1-0. Sophomore Austin Czarnik scored against OSU while classmate Jimmy Mullin scored in the fifth round (Miami's longest shootout of the year) against NMU. Miami is 4-0 in CCHA shootouts this year and 6-of-14 in CCHA shootout attempts while opponents are 0-for-12.
- The RedHawks also played Northern Michigan to a 2-2 overtime tie Nov. 10 in Oxford 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, one of just two shootouts last year (1-1).
- Miami also won a shootout against Michigan State Nov. 16 this year after a 2-2 overtime tie with Wideman again scoring the clinching goal.
- 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, 2-0.
FIRST-PERIOD WOES: Miami has struggled to score in the first period as of late. The RedHawks did notch a first-period tally Jan. 19 at Wisconsin, marking just Miami's second first-period goal in its last 11 games. Miami has allowed only three first-period goals in that time as the 'Hawks have been outscored, 3-2, in the first period over its last 11 games. The RedHawks have not allowed more than one goal in the first period in those 11 games, however, and has conceded more than one first-period goal just once all year. Six of Miami's last 11 games have been scoreless after the first 20 minutes. On the year, Miami has scored 21 and 20 goals in the second and third periods, respectively, but just 15 in the first, while giving up 13.
POLLING AROUND: Miami is No. 6 in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and the USCHO.com Poll for week 15 after ranking eighth last week. The RedHawks started the year No. 9 in both the USCHO and USA Today Preseason Polls. The RedHawks have been as high as No. 3 twice, which was Miami's highest ranking since being preseason No. 1 in the USA Today Poll to start last year and its highest ranking during the season since being No. 1 Nov. 1, 2010. The complete polls are on page 4.
CLASSY SENIORS: Miami's senior class has compiled 89 career wins, which ranks sixth 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.