Playing its final CCHA regular-season games ever, the No. 3/3 Miami hockey team wraps up the regular season Friday and Saturday, March 1-2, hosting in-state rival Ohio State at Steve Cady Arena. Puck drop Friday is set for 7:35 p.m. while Saturday's contest, which is Senior Night, begins at 7:05 p.m. The two sides have already met three times this year, playing consecutively from Dec. 14 to Dec. 28, with the RedHawks going 2-0-1 in those contests. The first two games, Dec. 14-15, in Columbus, were league games. Miami and OSU tied the first night, 1-1, as senior forward Curtis McKenzie tied the game in the third period on the power play while sophomore forward Austin Czarnik's shootout goal gave Miami the extra CCHA point. The next night, the 'Hawks won, 3-1, as sophomore forward Blake Coleman and freshman forward Riley Barber tallied a goal and an assist each. The rivals then met again in the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh with Miami pulling out a 1-0 victory as McKenzie scored 14 seconds into the third period and freshman goaltender Jay Williams pitched his second shutout of the season.
Miami (21-8-5, 16-6-4-4 CCHA) enters the final weekend in first place in the CCHA and needs just one point to clinch a share of the CCHA regular-season title and two points to capture the championship outright as the RedHawks lead second-place Western Michigan by five points in the standings and Notre Dame by six points. Miami, which has won nine of its last 11 games, is coming off a sweep at Lake Superior State, its fourth CCHA sweep of the year. In Friday's back-and-forth 5-4 win, the 'Hawks led four different times with redshirt senior forward Marc Hagel scoring the game-winner in the third period to break a 4-4 tie as he finished with three points. The next night, freshman defenseman Matthew Caito scored the game-winner in a 2-1 win as he and Barber both had a goal and an assist. Barber, who leads the CCHA with 34 points and has a team-high 14 goals, earned CCHA Gongshow® Rookie of the Week for his efforts while Caito garnered CCHA Gladiator® Defenseman of the Week.
Ohio State (13-14-7, 12-9-5-1 CCHA), which, like Miami, already clinched a first-round bye in the CCHA Tournament, sits in a fourth-place tie with Ferris State, looking to secure home ice for the second round. The Buckeyes were swept at home by Michigan last weekend as OSU fell to the Wolverines, 5-3, Friday, while on Saturday, Michigan scored three unanswered goals in the third period to hand OSU a 6-3 loss. Sophomores Tanner Fritz, who had three goals and five points against Michigan, and Ryan Dzingel share the team lead with 32 points, which ties for second in the CCHA with Czarnik. Dzingel has a team-high 14 goals while Fritz is second in the CCHA with 22 assists. Senior goalie Brady Hjelle is second in the CCHA with a .934 save percentage and has a 2.00 GAA.
The RedHawks hold a slight, 68-60-13 edge in the all-time series with Ohio State. Miami is 2-0-1 against the Buckeyes this season, two at OSU and one on neutral ice, and 5-1-1 against Ohio State over the last two years. In Oxford, Miami is 41-23-4 vs. OSU, as the two sides split a pair of games last year.
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 307-192-53 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.
Mark Osiecki (Wisconsin '94) is in his third season at Ohio State, where he has posted a record of 43-47-16. OSU has finished ninth and eighth, respectively, in the CCHA in his first two years. He came to Columbus after serving as an assistant at his alma mater for six years. While with the Badgers he was their recruiting coordinator, helping lead Wisconsin to a national title in 2006 and the 2010 championship game. Osiecki was an assistant coach for the gold-medal U.S. National Junior Team this year.
- Miami needs just one regulation or shootout win this weekend to clinch the CCHA regular-season title outright while a loss/shootout loss by Western Michigan and Notre Dame would also give the RedHawks the title outright. Miami has won three CCHA regular-season titles in program history (1992-93, 2005-06 and 2009-10) and one CCHA Tournament crown (2011).
- Prior to Saturday's game, Miami's six seniors, Marc Hagel, Joe Hartman, Garrett Kennedy, Steve Mason, Curtis McKenzie and Steven Spinell, will be honored as part of Senior Night.
- Also prior to Saturday's game, which will be the final CCHA regular-season game ever for Miami, will be a ceremonial puck drop with Miami's first varsity head coach, Steve Cady, and Lloyd Goggin, the two men who the arena and building are named after.
- Miami is 11-1-3 at Steve Cady Arena this year, outscoring the opposition at home, 45-20.
- The RedHawks rank first nationally on defense, allowing just 1.56 gpg while freshman goaltender Ryan McKay leads the country with both a 1.06 GAA and .962 save percentage.
Miami has clinched a first-round bye for the CCHA Tournament and will host a best-of-three second-round series March 15-17 at Steve Cady Arena against an opponent to be determined. Game time will be 7:35 p.m. on Friday, March 15 and 7:05 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, if necessary.
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 live on SportsTime Ohio, as well, while Saturday's game will be shown on tape-delay at 9 p.m. Both contests will also be on radio on 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.
CONSISTENTLY AT THE TOP: Entering the final weekend of the regular season, Miami cannot finish worse than third in the CCHA standings. In doing so, the RedHawks also locked up a first-round bye and home ice for the second round of the CCHA Tournament. Miami sits in first place in the CCHA, needing just a shootout win or regulation win against Ohio State to clinch its fourth CCHA regular-season title outright and first since 2009-10. Miami will have now finished in the top four in the CCHA standings each of the last eight 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.
ROARING 20s: With the wins at Lake Superior State Feb. 22-23, Miami now has 21 wins on the year, marking its eighth straight 20-win season. Prior to this stretch, Miami had never posted 20-win seasons in more than two straight years. The eight consecutive 20-win seasons is the fourth-longest active streak in the country behind only Michigan (25), Denver (11) and North Dakota (10). In 14 years under head coach Enrico Blasi, Miami has topped the 20-win plateau 11 times. Prior to Blasi, Miami reached 20 wins just five times in 21 seasons.
CLASSY SENIORS: Saturday will be Senior Night as Miami's six seniors will be honored prior to the game. Miami's senior class of Joe Hartman, Garrett Kennedy, Steve Mason, Curtis McKenzie and Steven Spinell has compiled 97 career wins, which ranks sixth in program history, two shy of tying for fourth. 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 has been to the NCAA Tournament all three years, as well. Redshirt senior Marc Hagel will also be honored as he joined the RedHawks this season after transferring from Princeton.
Winningest Classes in Program History
1. 2009-10, 109
2. 2010-11, 108
3. 2008-09, 106
4. 2011-12, 99
5. 1997-08, 98
6. 2012-13, 97
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Miami's strength this year has been its defense, as the RedHawks rank first nationally, allowing just 1.56 goals per game. The RedHawks have given up a goal or less in eight of their last 12 games, but did give up a season-high-tying four goals to Lake Superior Feb. 22 during that stretch. Miami has limited the opposition to two goals or less in 25 of its last 27 games (Northern Michigan scored three goals Jan. 12), including four shutouts, and 28 of 34 games on the year.
PK A-OK: The RedHawks saw their streak of 17 straight successful penalty kills dating back to Feb. 8 snapped when Lake Superior scored two power play goals Feb. 22. Miami went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill the next night, however. The 'Hawks rank second in the CCHA and sixth nationally with an 89.2 percent penalty kill. Miami's 140 kills (in 157 chances) are the most in the country. The RedHawks have been perfect on the penalty kill in 21 of 34 games this year.
THE BARBER SHOP: Freshman forward Riley Barber has had a stellar start to his collegiate career, already picking up a national award and six awards from the CCHA.
- Barber's 34 points lead the CCHA by himself and tie for first nationally among all rookies. His 20 assists are fourth in the CCHA and lead all NCAA freshmen while his 14 goals lead the team and tie for fifth in the CCHA.
- On Feb. 25, Barber was named CCHA Gongshow® Rookie of the Week for the fourth time this season after a two-goal, three-point outing in a sweep of Lake Superior State Feb. 22-23. No other CCHA player has won the honor more than twice this season.
- He has a point in 22 of his 32 games this year and had a five-game point streak from Oct. 13 to Oct. 27. He has 10 multi-point games this year, which ties for the team lead, 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.
CLOSE CONTESTS: Miami has played in three straight one-goal games, going 2-1 in such contests after sweeping Lake Superior State, 5-4 and 2-1, Feb. 22-23. After only two of Miami's first 14 games were decided by one goal, eight of the RedHawks' next 11 contests (Dec. 7 to Jan. 25) were one-goal games while two others were ties. Miami is 8-5 in one-goal contests this year. The RedHawks won their first three one-goal contests before suffering their first one-goal loss, 1-0, to Lake Superior Dec. 8. Three of the five one-goal losses on the year have been 1-0 scores while the other two were 2-1. A key to close games has been scoring first, which Miami has done in 21 of 34 games this year, going 18-2-1 in such contests.
NEW IN NET, NOT A PROBLEM: Miami has used both of its freshman goaltenders this season. Jay Williams has started 19 games, including eight straight from Oct. 27 to Nov. 30, while Ryan McKay has started 15 games after suffering an injury earlier this season. Both have already earned awards for their play, as well, and both rank in the top 11 nationally in GAA.
- McKay started both games vs. Notre Dame Feb. 15 and 17, his first time playing both games on the same weekend all year. He leads the country with a 1.06 goals-against average and a .962 save percentage while no other netminder in the NCAA has a GAA lower than 1.49. He allowed three goals Jan. 12 at Northern Michigan, two vs. Alaska Feb. 2 and two vs. the Irish Feb. 17, the only three times in 15 starts he has allowed more than one goal in a game, however he stopped all five shootout attempts in the tie at NMU. In 15 starts this year, he has allowed just 15 goals, including four on the power play (two 5-on-3).
- McKay made a career-high 44 saves Feb. 23 at Lake Superior State, allowing just one goal. The 44 saves marked the most saves by a RedHawk goaltender since Connor Knapp stopped 55 shots March 28, 2010 in a double-overtime game in the NCAA Regional Final vs. Michigan.
- Williams boasts an 12-5-3 record, while his nine-game unbeaten streak (6-0-3) was snapped with a 2-1 loss at Northern Michigan Jan. 11. He had not allowed more than two goals in any of his last 14 starts until giving up four goals at Lake Superior State Feb. 22. His 1.89 GAA is third in the CCHA and 11th nationally while his .926 save percentage is sixth in the CCHA and 20th nationally.
- McKay blanked Western Michigan Feb. 9 for his third shutout of the season, which ties for second in the CCHA and ninth 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.
- 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.
HAGEL'S HELPERS: Redshirt senior forward Marc Hagel has tallied 11 of his 16 points this year in his last eight games, including a career-high-tying three points Feb. 22 at Lake Superior (1g, 2a). He was named CCHA Postgame® Offensive Player of the Week Feb. 4 after a five-assist outing against Alaska Feb. 1-2. He was 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 while he now has three on the year.
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.
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.
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 tallying five points Feb. 22-23 at Lake Superior, the six second years have accounted for 36 of Miami's 87 goals (41.4 percent) and 86 of the squad's 237 points (36.3 percent) this year. Austin Czarnik is second on the team with 11 goals and is first with 21 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 seven goals and 14 points on the year, Jimmy Mullin has five goals and 13 points and Alex Wideman has five goals and 12 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 21 of 34 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.
AUSTIN'S ALL-IN: 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 32 points tie for second in the CCHA, while his 21 assists are third in the CCHA. His 11 goals are second on the team and tie for 12th in the CCHA.
- Czarnik, who had a four-game point streak from Oct. 19-27, has a point in 19 of 34 games this year, including a team-high-tying 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.
POLLING AROUND: Miami is No. 3 in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and the USCHO.com Poll for the fourth straight week and fifth straight week in the USA Today Poll. The RedHawks started the year No. 9 in both the USCHO and USA Today Preseason Polls. The RedHawks' No. 3 ranking matches their season high, achieving it six other times this year. It is 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.