Sunday, November 8, 2009

Quick Hitter - Miami v. Michigan

In Ann Arbor, Mich. - The No. 1 ranked Miami RedHawks defeated fourth ranked Michigan by a 5-1 score to complete a weekend road sweep of the Wolverines. Freshman Reilly Smith (Mimico, Ont.) recorded his first two collegiate goals and led by an absolutely smothering defensive effort and 20 timely saves from sophomore goaltender Cody Reichard (Celina, Ohio), the RedHawks dominated from start to finish.

To illustrate how difficult it is to win in Michigan's Yost Ice Arena, with the two weekend wins, Miami improves to 5-43-1 all-time there. And, it was the first sweep on home ice the Wolverines have suffered since Northern Michigan turned the trick in 2001.
Team defense, timely goaltending and opportunistic scoring have been hallmarks of Miami over the past couple of seasons. However, this weekend's sweep of the Wolverines was absolutely dominant. Much has been made of Michigan's top-ranked recruiting classes, but Miami has more than held their own against the Wolverines going 7-5-1 over the past 13 meetings. Further, Miami limited the top performers for Michigan (Carl Hagelin, Louie Caporusso and Matt Rust) to no goals and just a single assist each for Hagelin and Caporusso who led the Wolveines with 24 goals a season ago. Rust did not even register a point on the weekend. As a result, Miami completely dominated and neutralized Michigan's biggest offensive threats by eating up space all over the ice, challenging every loose puck, outworking the Wolverines, getting sticks in passing lanes and generally making life miserable. It was one of the best examples of team hockey I have seen. Frankly, they played their first complete game of the season on Saturday night and the results were overwhelming. This was the team that ran through the national tournament coming ever-so-close to winning the national title. I have to believe that loss is continuing to provide motivation for this year's squad.

As for the game itself, the Wolverines actually got on the scoreboard first with their first official shot on goal more than 10 minutes into the first period. Sophomore David Wohlberg redirected a point shot over Reichard's shoulder at 10:43 and Yost Ice Arena was rocking. However, it was clear that Miami's defensive effort was going to be stout, and while Michigan had the lead, they must have been concerned about their inability to get pucks to the net.

Miami would tie the game less than 90 seconds later skating 4-on-4 when sophomore forward Alden Hirschfeld (Sylvania, Ohio) found junior Pat Cannone (Bayport N.Y.) with speed entering the Michigan zone to the left of goaltender Bryan Hogan. Cannone carried the puck wide creating a nice angle for a wrister over Hogan's glove at 12:22 and the RedHawks were off and running.

As has been the case this season, Miami dominated the second period scoring two goals. The first by junior Andy Miele (Grosse Point Woods, Mich.) was an unassisted tally. Miele, who stands just 5'8", outworked the Michigan defense in the corner and won a battle for puck control. He moved out of the corner to Hogan's right, was knocked to one knee but maintained control of the puck and slipped it under Hogan's pads. Reilly Smith would score his first collegiate goal at 14:50 of the second period finishing a 2-on-1 with Cannone by lifting a pretty backhander over Hogan.

Entering the final period leading 3-1, Miami did not sit back and allow the Wolverines to find their legs. Instead, the hard forechecking and defensive pressure only intensified leading to a mini-breakaway for freshman Curtis McKenzie (Golden, B.C.) who went five-hole on Hogan at 4:46 of the third increasing the Miami lead to 4-1. Smith would tally his second of the night on the powerplay at 6:26 by tapping in a rebound of a McKenzie shot.
At that point, Miami had safely secured the victory and Michigan began to allow their frustrations to show through in the penalty box. In fact, the Wolverines would take three ten-minute misconducts and junior Tristin Llewellyn would be sent to the showers after hitting Miami's Carter Camper (Rocky River, Ohio) from behind resulting in a five-minute major penalty. Camper would stay down on the ice for about a minute before skating off under his own power. Camper did return to the game and it appears was not seriously injured.

On the night, the teams combined for 34 penalties for 95 minutes with Michigan racking up 51 of those in the third period.

With the win, Miami improved to 8-1-1 (5-1 CCHA) on the season while Michigan dropped to 4-4 (2-2). Cody Reichard's impressive start continued and he remains unbeaten at 7-0-1 with a 1.57 goals-against average and 93.4 save percentage.

Next weekend, Miami welcomes the Ferris State Bulldogs to Oxford for a weekend series on Friday and Saturday night. We'll have more about this series later in the week.

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