THE GAME: In a tune up for the 2013-14 season, Miami hosts Windsor in its lone exhibition game of the season at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5. Miami is coming off a 24-15-2 campaign in which the RedHawks made their eighth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The RedHawks won the CCHA regular season in 2012-13 with a 17-7-4-4 mark while falling in the semifinals of the CCHA Tournament.
Miami returns a significant amount of fire power from last season, with 11 of its 17 returning letterwinners coming at the forward position. The RedHawks also return four defensemen and both of their goalies from a season ago. Among the returners are First-Team West All-American and CCHA Player of the Year Austin Czarnik. As a sophomore, Czarnik led the CCHA in points and was the NCAA leader in short-handed goals. Miami also returns CCHA Rookie of the Year and First-Team All-CCHA selection Riley Barber. He finished second in the CCHA in scoring last season and led the team with 15 goals. Bolstering the list of RedHawk returners are defenseman Matthew Caito and goaltender Ryan McKay, who were named to the CCHA All-Rookie team last season.
Windsor, who plays in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference, has already played four exhibition games this season and hosts the Laurier Golden Hawks Friday before traveling to Oxford. A year ago, the Lancers finished second in the OUA West Division with an 18-9-1 league mark while going 25-12-3 overall.
THE COACHES: Enrico Blasi (Miami ’94) begins his 15th season behind the RedHawk bench. He is a five-time CCHA Coach of the Year and was named National Coach of the Year in 2005-06. He stands 311-196-53 in 14 seasons at his alma mater, where he has led Miami to nine NCAA Tournaments, including two Frozen Four berths, a National Championship game appearance, a trio of CCHA regular-season titles and the school’s first ever Mason Cup in 2011. Blasi is the the winningest coach in school history.
Kevin Hamlin is in his sixth season leading the Windsor Lancers and owns a 68-56-13 record while at the helm of the program. Hamlin led the team to a 25-12-3 overall mark last season, including an 18-9-1 conference record to finish second in the OUA Western Conference. The team was one of the top scoring teams in Canada last season, ranking eighth in goals and sixth in power-play goals
• Miami enters the season ranked second in the country in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and the USCHO.com Poll. The RedHawks finished last season sixth in the USA Today Poll and fifth in the USCHO.com poll. Miami spent the entire season ranked among the top 10 in both polls and have finished the season among the top 10 in the final polls each of the last six seasons.
• Junior forward Austin Czarnik was named Miami’s captain in late June. Czarnik (Washington, Mich.) becomes the 77th Miami player in program history to serve as a captain, including assistant captains. He replaces Steven Spinell, who was the lone captain in 2012-13 and graduated this past spring. Czarnik will be the first junior to don the “C” on his sweater for Miami since Tommy Wingels was captain in 2009-10.
• Head coach Enrico Blasi signed a new 10-year contract in April 2013 that will keep him at the helm of the RedHawks through the 2022-23 season. Blasi’s original contract expired after the 2016-17 season as the new deal provides another six-year extension.
• Miami was picked to finish first in the NCHC preseason media poll.
UP NEXT: Miami opens the regular season with a home-and-home series against Ohio State. The RedHawks travel to OSU on Friday for a 7:05 p.m. game and return home to host the Buckeyes at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12. The following weekend, Miami opens NCHC play at home against North Dakota with a 7 p.m. start Friday, Oct. 18 and an 8 p.m. start Saturday, Oct. 19.
REDHAWKS TO OPEN FIRST SEASON IN NCHC: Miami hockey embarks on a new era as the RedHawks open the inaugural season of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, of which Miami is a founding member. 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. Miami kicks off its new conference with the first ever NCHC game on Friday, Oct. 18 against North Dakota at Steve Cady Arena.
POLLING AROUND: The RedHawks opened the season ranked second in USA Today, USCHO.com and CHN preseason polls.
REDHAWKS PICKED TO FINISH FIRST IN NCHC POLL: In the inaugural National Collegiate Hockey Conference preseason poll, Miami University was picked to win the conference. The poll was voted on by a total of 16 media members who regularly cover NCHC teams, two from each institution’s market. The RedHawks finished the preseason poll with 115 points, followed by North Dakota (109), St. Cloud State (99), Denver (66), Western Michigan (61), Minnesota-Duluth (43), Colorado College (42) and Nebraska-Omaha (41). Miami also led the preseason poll with seven first-place votes.
ABOUT THE REDHAWKS: Overall, Miami returns 20 players from last season, including 17 letter-winners. The RedHawks 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. They 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 Austin Czarnik, who was the CCHA Player of the Year and a Hobey Baker finalist last season after leading the league with 40 points.