A historical weekend awaits the No. 3/3 Miami hockey team as the RedHawks play a critical two-game CCHA series against No. 12/12 Notre Dame on Friday, Feb. 15 and Sunday, Feb. 17. The teams first collide Friday at Steve Cady Arena in Oxford, where the 'Hawks are 10-1-3 this year, with puck drop set for 7:35 p.m. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network. Both squads then travel to Chicago for the OfficeMax® Hockey City Classic on Sunday when Miami will play at Soldier Field in the program's first outdoor game. Sunday's game, which airs on Fox Sports Detroit and FS Ohio, begins at 1 p.m. ET/noon CT. The doubleheader also features WCHA foes No. 2/2 Minnesota vs. No. 18 Wisconsin at 3:30 p.m. CT.
With only three weeks left in the regular season, the series carries heavy CCHA implications as Miami sits atop the CCHA with 47 points while Notre Dame is third in the league, just three points back (44 points). Western Michigan is second in the league with 46 points.
The RedHawks (18-7-5, 13-5-4-4 CCHA) are coming off a split at No. 6 Western Michigan, which was a battle for first place. The Broncos captured the win on Friday, shutting out Miami, 2-0, to snap the RedHawks' five-game winning streak. The next night, Miami responded with a 4-0 shutout of its own, its fifth of the year, to hault WMU's six-game unbeaten streak. Freshman forward Riley Barber and senior forward Curtis McKenzie scored the first two goals for the 'Hawks while each added an assist, as well. Freshman goaltender Ryan McKay, who leads the country with both a 0.98 GAA and .964 save percentage, was in net Saturday to record his third whitewash of the year and earned CCHA Warrior® Goaltender of the Week for his efforts. Fellow rookie netminder Jay Williams, who was in goal Friday, has limited the opposition to two goals or less in each of his last 14 starts while carrying a 1.78 GAA and .930 save percentage, both in the top 16 nationally. Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik and Barber share the CCHA lead with 30 points each. Czarnik has a team-high 19 assists while Barber has a team-best 12 goals.
The Fighting Irish (18-11-1, 14-7-1-1 CCHA) are riding a three-game unbeaten streak, including a sweep of Michigan last weekend. On Friday, Notre Dame topped the Wolverines, 7-4, as Anders Lee, David Gerths and Bryan Rust all scored a pair of goals with Rust adding two assists. UND then capped the sweep with a 6-4 victory Saturday behind a goal and two assists each from Lee and Jeff Costello. Lee leads the Irish and is third in the CCHA with 29 points, including a CCHA-best 17 goals. T.J. Tynan has a team-high 16 assists. Goaltender Steven Summerhays, who only played Saturday vs. Michigan, has started 25 games with a 2.05 GAA and .918 save percentage.
Miami leads the all-time series with Notre Dame, 38-16-10, including 20-8-2 in Oxford and 4-0-0 on neutral ice. Miami is 10-1-2 in its last 13 meetings with the Irish, including sweeping Notre Dame in Oxford in the teams' only meetings last year. The 'Hawks are 10-1-1 vs. UND in their last 12 meetings in Oxford. Miami head coach Enrico Blasi is 21-9-7 vs. Notre Dame behind the bench.
Both games this weekend will be televised nationally. Friday's contest will be on CBS Sports Network (DirecTV - 613/DISH - 158) with Ben Holden handling play-by-play, Dave Starman adding color commentary and Shireen Saski serving as the rink-side reporter. Sunday's game will be on Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Ohio, Comcast Chicago and other Fox Sports affiliates. Dan Kelly will do play-by-play with Rob Andringa providing color and Ray Crawford manning the rinkside reporting. Friday's game will not be on radio, however Sunday's game will be both WKBV-AM 1490 out of Richmond, Ind. and WMOH-AM 1450 out of Hamilton, Ohio with the "Voice of Miami Hockey" Greg Waddell calling the action. Live audio of both games is also available on MURedHawks.com through the Miami All-Access subscription package.
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 304-191-53 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.
Jeff Jackson (Michigan State '78) is in his eighth season in charge of Notre Dame, where he has compiled a record of 178-108-31, and is in his 14th season overall as a head coach. He was a head coach at CCHA foe Lake Superior State from 1990-96, leading the Lakers to two national titles. The three-time CCHA Coach of the Year has a combined record of 360-160-56 and has spurred the Irish to two CCHA regular-season and tournament titles and four NCAA Tournament berths, including two Frozen Fours.
- With one win this weekend, Miami can clinch a first-round bye for the upcoming CCHA Tournament (top five in CCHA standings). If Miami earns five or more points on the weekend, the RedHawks would also secure home ice for the second round of the playoffs and a top-four finish.
- Miami has held its opponent to two goals or less in eight straight games and 22 of its last 23 games, including a goal or less in six of its last eight contests. Miami ranks first nationally, allowing just 1.50 gpg.
- Miami is 14-0-1 this year when scoring three or more goals, having done so in four of its last five games. The RedHawks have also scored first in those four wins and are 15-2-1 when doing so this year. Miami has scored first in 18 of its 30 games on the season.
- Miami will don special one-time only jerseys for the OfficeMax® Hockey City Classic Sunday.
Following the OfficeMax® Hockey City Classic, Miami returns indoors for its final road trip of the regular season and in CCHA history, as the RedHawks travel to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. for a two-game series at Lake Superior State Feb. 22-23 at Taffy Abel Arena. Puck drop is 7:35 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
MOVING OUTDOORS: Miami will play in the program's first ever outdoor game Sunday in the OfficeMax® Hockey City Classic when the RedHawks face Notre Dame inside of Chicago's Soldier Field, home of the NFL's Chicago Bears. The RedHawks will wear custom one-time only jerseys for the game that are tan with red stripes on the sleeves and bottom and feature the beveled "M" prominently on the front. The shoulders are red with tan numerals and a tan nameplate on the back. Senior captain Steven Spinell's "C" is also tan and sits on a red patch in the shape of the state of Ohio. The OfficeMax® Hockey City Classic is a doubleheader that also features No. 2/2 Minnesota vs. No. 18 Wisconsin in a WCHA clash at 3:30 p.m. CT.
HEADING HOME: Sunday's OfficeMax® Hockey City Classic in Chicago will be a homecoming of sorts for six RedHawks who hail from the Chicago area. Senior captain and defenseman Steven Spinell is from Vernon Hills, while junior forward Max Cook is from Frankfort and sophomore forward Cody Murphy is from Highwood. Freshmen John Doherty (Elmhurst), Chris Joyaux (Bloomingdale) and Ryan McKay (Palatine) all have Chicago roots as well.
BAGEL BONANZA: Miami has seen a lot of zeros on the scoreboard this season, having played in 10 games involving a shutout. The RedHawks have pitched five shutouts themselves, most recently blanking No. 6 Western Michigan, 4-0, in Kalamazoo Feb. 9. Three of the five shutouts have occurred in CCHA play while the five whitewashes are the most in the CCHA. Freshmen goaltenders Ryan McKay (three) and Jay Williams (two) have combined for them. On the flip side, Miami has been shut out five times this season, as well, including Feb. 8 at WMU (2-0). The five shutouts are the most the 'Hawks have suffered since the 2001-02 season when Miami was blanked seven times and are the second-most in a season in Miami history.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Miami's strength this year has been its defense, as the RedHawks rank first nationally, allowing just 1.50 goals per game. The RedHawks have given up a goal or less in six of their last eight games and 13 of their last 19 contests. Miami has limited the opposition to two goals or less in 22 of its last 23 games (Northern Michigan scored three goals Jan. 12), including four shutouts, and 25 of 30 games on the year.
NEW IN NET, NOT A PROBLEM: Miami has used both of its freshman goaltenders this season. Jay Williams has started 18 games, including eight straight from Oct. 27 to Nov. 30, while Ryan McKay has started 12 games after suffering an injury earlier this season. Both have already earned awards for their play, as well, and both rank in the top 10 nationally in GAA.
- McKay leads the country with a 0.98 goals-against average and a .964 save percentage while no other netminder in the NCAA has a GAA lower than 1.43. He allowed three goals Jan. 12 at Northern Michigan and two vs. Alaska Feb. 2, the only two times in 12 starts he has allowed more than one goal in a game, however he stopped all five shootout attempts in the tie at NMU. In 12 starts this year, he has allowed just 11 goals, including four on the power play (two 5-on-3).
- McKay blanked Western Michigan Feb. 9 for his third shutout of the season, which ties for second in the CCHA and eighth nationally. He was named CCHA Warrior® Goaltender of the Week for his 29-save whitewash.
- 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 an 11-5-3 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 14 starts and just one goal in three of his last four starts. His 1.78 GAA is third in the CCHA and eighth nationally while his .930 save percentage is fifth in the CCHA and 16th 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. He also stopped a penalty shot at Western Michigan on Feb. 8.
- 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.
CONSISTENTLY AT THE TOP: With two wins (or five points) this weekend against Notre Dame, Miami would be assured of finishing in the top four in the final year of CCHA play, which also earns a first-round bye in the CCHA Tournament. Miami finished the 2011-12 season with a 15-11-2-1 record in league play, 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, and looks to make it eight straight this season. 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. Two wins would also give Miami an eighth straight 20-win season.
SPINELL IS ALL CLASS: On Feb. 13 senior defenseman and captain Steven Spinell was named one of just 10 finalists 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 is one of three CCHA players named a finalist for the award. Miami has now had a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award each of the last three years with goalie Cody Reichard being named a finalist in 2011-12 and forward Carter Camper earning the distinction in 2010-11. The winner will be 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 five awards from the CCHA.
- Barber's 30 points tie for the CCHA lead with sophomore teammate Austin Czarnik and rank second nationally among rookies. His 18 assists are third in the CCHA and lead all NCAA freshmen while his 12 goals lead the team and tie for fifth in the CCHA.
- He has a point in 19 of his 28 games this year and had a five-game point streak from Oct. 13 to Oct. 27. He has nine multi-point games this year, including three multi-assist games and his first multi-goal game Feb. 2 vs. Alaska.
- 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.
PK A-OK: The RedHawks went 9-for-10 on the penalty kill at Western Michigan Feb. 8-9. Miami had killed 26 straight opponent power plays dating back to Jan. 11 and 44 of its last 45 opponent power plays going back to Dec. 8 until giving up two power play goals to Alaska Feb. 2. Miami leads the CCHA and ranks fifth nationally with an 89.1 percent penalty kill. The 123 kills (in 138 chances) are the most in the country. Miami has been perfect on the penalty kill in 18 of the team's 30 games this year.
SUPER SOPHOMORES: Miami's sophomore class has picked up where they left off as freshmen as five of the team's top nine scorers are sophomores. After scoring half of Miami's 10 goals against Alaska Feb. 1-2, the six second years have accounted for 34 of Miami's 76 goals (44.7 percent) and 79 of the squad's 204 points (38.7 percent) this year. Austin Czarnik is second on the team with 11 goals and is first with 19 assists while Cody Murphy is tied for third with eight goals and has six assists, including a career-high three assists Oct. 13. Blake Coleman has six goals and 12 points on the year, Jimmy Mullin has four goals and 12 points and Alex Wideman has five goals and 10 points. Defenseman Ben Paulides has one helper, as well. 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 a goal in 19 of 30 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 after last year. The seven returners on the team who aren't sophomores combined for just 15 goals and 52 points in 2011-12.
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 30 points tie for the CCHA lead with freshman teammate Riley Barber, while his 19 assists are second in the CCHA. His 11 goals are second on the team behind Barber and tie for eighth in the CCHA.
- Czarnik, who had a four-game point streak from Oct. 19-27, has a point in 17 of 30 games this year, including a team-high 10 multi-point games. He already has three 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.
MAC ATTACK: Senior forward Curtis McKenzie scored the game-winning goal in Miami's 2-1 win over Wisconsin Jan. 19, breaking a 1-1 tie in the second period. It was his fourth game-winning goal of the year, which ties for the CCHA lead with LSSU's Domenic Monardo, but McKenzie has done so in three fewer games. The four game-winners also tie for sixth nationally. McKenzie had just three career game-winners entering the season, including none last year.
HAGEL'S HELPERS: Redshirt senior forward Marc Hagel was named CCHA Postgame® Offensive Player of the Week Feb. 4 after a five-assist outing against Alaska Feb. 1-2. He is the third RedHawk to win the award this year along with sophomore forwards Blake Coleman and Austin Czarnik while it is Hagel's first CCHA honor. Prior to the five-assist weekend, Hagel had just three assists and five points all season and none since Dec. 7. He had two assists Feb. 1 and three assists, which also marked a career high for points, Feb. 2. They were his first multi-assist games as a RedHawk.
NOT SO SHORT-HANDED: Miami has six short-handed goals on the year, which ties for third nationally, one behind Mercyhurst and Robert Morris for the most in the country. Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik, who has a total of 11 goals on the year, has tallied three of them short-handed, which is tied for first in the country, with all of them coming in a five-game stretch from Oct. 26 to Nov. 9. He now already has five career short-handed goals, which ties him for fifth in school history. Sophomore forward Cody Murphy, freshman forward Riley Barber and redshirt senior forward Marc Hagel each have one shorty this year.
BLASI TOPS 300: With Miami's 2-1 win over Bowling Green Jan. 25, head coach Enrico Blasi earned his 300th career win, all at Miami, becoming the first hockey coach in program history to reach the milestone. He boasts a career record of 304-191-53 in 14 seasons at his alma mater. Blasi, who was already the school's all-time winningest coach, ranks 16th for most wins among active NCAA Division I hockey coaches and ranks 42nd all-time among D-I hockey coaches.
INTERMISSION ENTERTAINMENT: The Varsity Senior Synchronized Skating team is performing their competitive free skate program set to 1920’s flapper music. The team is having a successful season and returned most recently from the Leon Lurje Trophy in Sweden with the bronze medal. See all three Varsity Synchronized Skating Teams as they perform their competitive programs in preparation for the U.S. Synchronized Skating National Championships in Plymouth, Mich. They will be hosting a Nationals send off Saturday, Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. at Coach Cady Arena. The team will be hosting a drive for the Oxford Choice Pantry collecting non-perishable food, toiletries and cleaning items. Admission is free and open to the public.