Coming off a first-round bye, the No. 3/3 and top-seeded Miami hockey team begins CCHA Tournament play hosting 11th-seeded Michigan State in a best-of-three quarterfinal series Friday to Sunday, March 15-17 at Steve Cady Arena. Puck drop Friday is at 7:35 p.m. while Saturday's game is at 7:05 p.m. as would Sunday's game, if necessary. The two teams met in last year's CCHA Quarterfinals as well, with the RedHawks sweeping the Spartans behind 6-0 and 4-1 wins in Oxford.
Miami and MSU squared off in Oxford earlier this season, as well. On Nov. 16, the two sides skated to a 2-2 tie as the 'Hawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead only to see the Spartans score twice in the second period. Sophomore forward Alex Wideman, who scored Miami's second goal, buried the shootout winner to earn the RedHawks the extra point in the standings. The next night, freshman goaltender Jay Williams pitched his first shutout while Wideman scored again late in the third period to seal a 2-0 win.
Miami (22-9-5) clinched its fourth CCHA regular-season championship in program history in the regular-season finale March 2 with a 4-2 victory over rival Ohio State. The RedHawks have also won regular-season crowns in 1992-93, 2005-06 and 2009-10. Miami, which has won 10 of its last 13 games, suffered just its second home loss of the season in the first game of the series with OSU, falling 3-0, as the 'Hawks were shut out for the sixth time this season. Miami responded the next night with the title on the line, jumping out to a 4-0 lead before OSU scored twice late.
Michigan State (13-23-3), which finished last in the regular-season standings, comes to Oxford after winning its first-round series at sixth-seeded Alaska. MSU won game one, 2-1, in overtime on a goal by freshman Matt DeBlouw. After falling, 4-1, in game two, the Spartans earned the decisive, 4-3 win in game three to advance. MSU held off a late Nanook rally after leading 4-1 in the third period. Sophomore Matt Berry leads MSU this year with 29 points, 14 goals and 15 assists.
None of the games this weekend will be televised, however, as always, the games will be streamed live on MURedHawks.com in HD through the Miami All-Access subscription package. All the contests will 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.
Miami is 32-68-6 all-time against Michigan State, with the RedHawks riding a seven-game unbeaten streak vs. MSU (6-0-1) dating back to the 2010-11 season. Miami won all four games against MSU last year, including the two quarterfinal matchups, and tied and beat the Spartans in Oxford earlier this season. In Oxford, the Spartans hold a 29-15-4 edge. Head coach Enrico Blasi is 20-20-1 against MSU.
Enrico Blasi (Miami '94) is in his 14th season at Miami. A four-time CCHA Coach of the Year, he is a finalist again this year, and was named National Coach of the Year in 2005-06. He stands 308-193-53 in 14 seasons at his alma mater, where he has led Miami to eight NCAA Tournaments, two Frozen Four berths, a National Championship game appearance, three CCHA regular-season titles, including this year, and the school's first ever Mason Cup in 2011. Blasi is the the winningest coach in school history.
Tom Anastos (Michigan State '87) is in his second season at the helm of Michigan State, leading his alma mater to a 32-39-7 record. In his first year, he guided the Spartans to a fifth-place finish in the CCHA and an NCAA Tournament appearance. Prior to taking over at MSU, he served as commissioner of the CCHA for 13 years, overseeing the conference in which he now coaches. He previously coached the Spartans as an assistant from 1990-92 and played for MSU from 1981-85.
- Miami is the No. 1 seed in the CCHA Tournament for the fourth time in program history, coinciding with Miami's four CCHA regular-season titles. The RedHawks have advanced to Detroit each year they have been a No. 1 seed, but won their only Mason Cup in 2011 as a No. 3 seed. Miami has won its quarterfinal series each of the last three years and five of the last seven.
- Miami is 33-36 all-time in the CCHA Tournament, including just 2-9 against Michigan State, with the two wins coming last year. Miami is 2-2 against Michigan State in the second round. Under head coach Enrico Blasi, Miami is 21-20 in the CCHA Playoffs, including going 3-1 last year to place third. Miami is 23-11 all-time at home in the CCHA Tournament.
- Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik and freshman forward Riley Barber were both named First-Team All-CCHA Wednesday. The RedHawks were the only team to place more than one player on the First Team. Barber leads the CCHA with 36 points, which is also tops among rookies nationally. Barber, defenseman Matthew Caito and goaltender Ryan McKay all earned CCHA All-Rookie Team honors, marking the first time Miami has placed three on the squad.
- Miami ranks second nationally on defense, allowing just 1.61 goals per game. The RedHawks have held opponents to two goals or less in 26 of their last 29 games. Freshman goaltender Ryan McKay leads the country with both a 1.17 GAA and .957 save percentage.
- The RedHawks are 17-0-1 this year when scoring three goals or more and 12-0-0 when topping the four-goal mark. Miami is 12-2-3 at Steve Cady Arena this season, as well.
Should the RedHawks advance in the best-of-three series, Miami would move on to Detroit for the CCHA semifinals on Saturday, March 23 against the lowest remaining seed. Should Miami fall to MSU, the RedHawks would have to wait for their NCAA Tournament fate, which will be announced March 24.
- Miami is facing Michigan State in the CCHA Tournament quarterfinals for the second straight year. The RedHawks are just 2-9 against MSU in the CCHA Tournament but earned both wins last year by sweeping the Spartans in the best-of-three series. Miami is 2-2 against Michigan State in the second round, as the Spartans swept Miami in the 1985 quarterfinals. MSU also won two first-round series in 2000 and 2005 in East Lansing and beat the 'Hawks in the 2006 title game. The complete series is on page 8.
- The RedHawks are 33-36 all-time in the CCHA Tournament, including going 3-1 last year and finishing in third place. Under head coach Enrico Blasi, Miami is 21-20 in the league playoffs while Miami is 23-11 all-time at home in the CCHA Tournament.
- Miami is the No. 1 seed in the CCHA Tournament for the fourth time in school history, last doing so in 2009-10. The RedHawks are 9-4 as a No. 1 seed and have advanced to the CCHA semifinals each time, including the title game in 1993 and 2006, but won their only Mason Cup in 2011 as a No. 3 seed.
- Dating back to 2006, Miami has won five of its last seven second-round series, including winning each of its last three to move on to Detroit. The RedHawks have had a first-round bye each of the last eight seasons, something no other team in the league has done.
THE FINAL CHAMPIONS: Miami won the 2012-13 CCHA regular-season championship, totaling 59 points in the standings with a 17-7-4-4 league record, three points ahead of Notre Dame. It is the program's fourth regular-season crown, also winning the title in 1992-93, 2005-06 and 2009-10, while the RedHawks have won one CCHA Tournament, as well (2011). Miami will forever be the final CCHA regular-season champions as the league is dissolving after the season. By winning the title, Miami has 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 three times, finished runner-up once and have three third-place finishes in addition to last year's fourth-place finish.
ALL-CCHA, ALL THE TIME: Miami had three players named to the all-conference teams, which were announced March 13. Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik and freshman forward Riley Barber were both tabbed First-Team All-CCHA while freshman defenseman Matthew Caito garnered Honorable Mention All-CCHA. It is the first all-league honor for all three.
- Barber becomes the first rookie to earn first-team honors since 2003-04 when Michigan's T.J. Hensick and Michigan State's A.J. Thelen both received First-Team All-CCHA nods.
- The RedHawks were the only team to place more than one player on the 2013 All-CCHA First Team, the third time in the last four years Miami has put at least two players on the First Team. The RedHawks have also now had at least one first-teamer each of the last six seasons. Barber and Czarnik become the 17th and 18th Miami players to earn first-team distinction.
- Czarnik, who is a finalist for CCHA Player of the Year and Best Defensive Forward, was the top vote-getter on the team, totaling 46 points, including eight first-place votes.
- In addition to their All-CCHA nods, Barber, who is a finalist for CCHA Rookie of the Year, Caito, who is a finalist for Best Offensive Defenseman and goaltender Ryan McKay were all tabbed to the CCHA All-Rookie Team on March 11.
- Miami placed three players on the seven-man All-Rookie Team for the first time in program history, last putting two on the team in 2008-09. The last CCHA team to have three players land on the All-Rookie Team was Notre Dame in 2006-07. Barber was the lone unanimous selection to the All-Rookie Team while no other team had more than one player on the squad.
ROARING 20s: Miami finished the regular season with 22 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.
HOME SWEET HOME: Miami is 12-2-3 in the friendly confines of Steve Cady Arena this season. The RedHawks were shut out in their only losses at home, falling, 1-0, to Lake Superior State Dec. 8 and, 3-0, to Ohio State March 1. The RedHawks have outscored the opposition, 49-25, at home this season, as Miami is scoring 2.88 goals per game at home compared to 2.21 gpg away from Oxford (road/neutral site). Defensively, the 'Hawks give up just 1.47 gpg at home compared to 1.74 goals allowed per game on the road/at neutral sites.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Miami's strength this year has been its defense, as the RedHawks rank second nationally and first in the CCHA, allowing just 1.61 goals per game. Miami has limited the opposition to two goals or less in 26 of its last 29 games (NMU scored three goals Jan. 12, LSSU scored four Feb. 22 and OSU scored three March 1), including four shutouts. The RedHawks have held their opponent to two goals or less in 29 of 36 games on the year and one goal or less in 18 contests on the season, including five shutouts.
PK A-OK: The RedHawks, who killed 26 straight opponent power plays at one point this year from Jan. 11 to Feb. 1, rank second in the CCHA and sixth nationally with an 88.6 percent penalty kill. Miami's 147 kills (in 166 chances) are the third-most in the country. The RedHawks have been perfect on the penalty kill in 21 of 36 games this year.
THE BARBER SHOP: Freshman forward Riley Barber has had a stellar rookie campaign, earning unanimous CCHA All-Rookie Team honors and First-Team All-CCHA.
- Barber's 36 points lead the CCHA and rank first nationally among all rookies. He has 10 points in his last nine games. His 21 assists tie for fourth in the CCHA and tie for first among NCAA freshmen while his 15 goals lead the team and rank sixth in the CCHA.
- He has a point in 23 of his 34 games this year and had a five-game point streak from Oct. 13 to Oct. 27. He has a team-best 11 multi-point games this year, including three multi-assist games and his first multi-goal game Feb. 2 vs. Alaska.
- 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 won the honor more than twice this season.
- 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.
- Czarnik's 33 points tie for fourth in the CCHA and are second on the team, while his team-high 22 assists are third in the league. His 11 goals are second on the team, as well.
- Czarnik, who had a four-game point streak from Oct. 19-27, has a point in 20 of 36 games this year, including 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.
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 17 games after suffering an injury earlier this season. Both have earned awards for their play and both rank in the top 11 nationally in GAA.
- McKay has started six of Miami's last seven games. He leads the country with a 1.17 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage while no other netminder in the NCAA has a GAA lower than 1.49. In 17 starts this year, he has given up just one goal or less in 12 of them. He also stopped all five shootout attempts in a tie at Northern Michigan Jan. 12. In his 17 starts, he has allowed just 19 goals, including six 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 third in the CCHA and 12th nationally. He was named CCHA Warrior® Goaltender of the Week for his 29-save whitewash.
- McKay was named CCHA Goaltender of the Month for February, his second time winning the award, after compiling a 1.20 GAA and .961 save percentage in the month. He first won it for December after posting a 0.76 GAA and .970 save percentage in four starts. He also garnered Hockey Commissioners' Association National Rookie of the Month for December. 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 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 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.
BAGEL BONANZA: Miami has seen a lot of zeros on the scoreboard this season, having played in 11 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 second-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 six times this season, including a 3-0 loss to Ohio State March 1. The six 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 accounting for four points against Ohio State March 2, the six second years have accounted for 38 of Miami's 91 goals (41.8 percent) and 90 of the squad's 246 points (36.6 percent) this year. Austin Czarnik is second on the team with 11 goals and is first with 22 assists while Cody Murphy is tied for third with nine goals and has six assists, including a career-high three assists Oct. 13. Blake Coleman has eight goals and assists each, 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 22 of 36 games this year. Last year's newcomers also accounted for 122 of Miami's 323 points, or 37.8 percent.
SPINELL IS ALL CLASS: On March 12, senior defenseman and captain Steven Spinell was named Miami's nominee for CCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He is also a finalist for CCHA Best Defensive Defenseman. In addition, on Feb. 13 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.