OXFORD, Ohio - After finishing last season ranked sixth in the final USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and fifth in the final USCHO.com Poll, College Hockey News (CHN) has tabbed the Miami hockey team No. 2 in the country in their recently released Preseason Top 10. The RedHawks are one of just two teams in the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) to be selected for the poll, along with North Dakota, which is fifth in the poll.
Miami boasted a record of 25-12-5 last season on its way to an eighth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, including a first-round win over Minnesota State, which is ranked 10th in College Hockey News’ poll. The RedHawks also captured the final CCHA regular-season championship last year. Miami returns a strong freshman class from last season led by goaltenders Ryan McKay and Jay Williams and CCHA Rookie of the Year/First Team All-CCHA selection Riley Barber. McKay set Miami single-season records for goals-against average (1.39), which was second nationally, and save percentage (.946), while Williams ranked sixth all-time at Miami in both categories. Barber led all rookies in the NCAA last year with 39 points, including a team-best 15 goals. The RedHawks also return junior All-American and newly-named captain Austin Czarnik, who was the CCHA Player of the Year and a Hobey Baker finalist last season after leading the league with 40 points. Overall, Miami returns 20 players from last season, including 17 letterwinners.
North Dakota is one of three teams ranked in the CHN Poll that Miami will face during the regular season. The RedHawks will host UND Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18 and 19in the first ever NCHC games. The first game of the series is set to air nationally on CBS Sports Network. The next weekend, Oct. 25-26, Miami travels east to face Hockey East foe Providence, who is ninth in the poll, while the ‘Hawks will also host Big Ten member Wisconsin Nov. 15-16. The Badgers sit right behind Miami in the poll at No. 3 while the first contest with Wisconsin will also air on CBS Sports Network.
Topping the CHN Poll was UMass-Lowell, which reached the Frozen Four last year and won both Hockey East championships. Fellow Hockey East member Boston College is fourth. Behind fifth-ranked North Dakota is Minnesota and Notre Dame at sixth and seventh, respectively, while former CCHA rival Michigan is eighth. Last year’s National Champion, Yale, was not ranked in the poll.
Miami kicks off the 2013-14 season with an exhibition game against Windsor on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. and opens the regular season Friday, Oct. 11in Columbus against in-state rival Ohio State before returning home on Saturday, Oct. 12 to host the Buckeyes.
The NCHC is an eight-team hockey-only league consisting of Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska Omaha, North Dakota, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan, along with Miami. The conference boasts a combined 17 NCAA Championships, 50 Frozen Four berths, 12 Hobey Baker Award winners, including SCSU’s Drew LeBlanc this past year, and 266 All-Americans. The teams have also produced 295 players that went on to play in the NHL. The new league will reward fans every weekend with fast, exciting, action-packed hockey that pits several of the top teams in the country against each other. The NCHC also has agreed to a television deal with CBS Sports Network, assuring at least 18 league games will be broadcast to a national audience this coming season, including five Miami games.