Sunday, December 6, 2009

College Weekend Roundup - 12/7/09

RedHawks complete sweep of Notre Dame, Michigan earns split against the Buckeyes

Oxford, Ohio -

The #1 ranked team in the nation was slumping. Mired in a 1-1-4 stretch that included four straight road games, Miami returned to the friendly confines of Steve Cady Arena to host the #14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. On Friday, behind 24 saves from sophomore goaltender Cody Reichard and a shorthanded goal from freshman Joe Hartman, Miami got back into the win column claiming a hard-fought 1-0 win over the Irish. But, on Saturday the RedHawks left themselves more margin for error by completing the weekend sweep by again shutting out the Fighting Irish 4-0 on the strength of 18 saves by sophomore netminder Connor Knapp. Sophomore defenseman Cameron Schilling had three helpers and Miami got powerplay goals from junior captain Tommy Wingels and junior center Pat Cannone.

With the win, Miami improved to 11-2-5 overall and 8-1-3-1 in CCHA play (the last '1' is for a shootout win that contributes one point to the totals). Miami has earned 28 league points and holds a five-point lead over second place Michigan State and six points over third place Ferris State who has two games at hand (CCHA regulation and OT wins are worth three points each). The Irish fell to 7-7-4 overall and 4-4-4-2 in the league, good enough for a tie for fifth place.

Junior Carter Camper had a goal and an assist for the RedHawks and leads the squad with 8 markers. Junior Justin Vaive completed the scoring for Miami with his third of the year at 16:55 of the third period effectively ending any remaining drama.

Sophomore Connor Knapp saw his record improve to 2-1-3 as he notched his second shutout of the season. Knapp's goals-against average declined to an impressive 2.20 and his save percentage improved to 91.1. Miami head coach Enrico Blasi was pleased with the effort of his sophmore netminder.

“Connor made some nice saves when he had to tonight and had a very good performance overall,” said Blasi. “They have some really good players on their team, and he kept us on top throughout the game.” (

The victory over the Fighting Irish will enable Miami to tighten its grip on the number one ranking in the polls where they have held the top spot for the past eight weeks. More importantly, Miami has overcome the fourth toughest schedule in the nation during their first 18 games and finds themselves in good position for a run at the CCHA regular season title. That run will start next week with two games against archrival Ohio State and marks the official start of the second half of the season. Additionally, Miami is rated #2 in the Pairwise rankings that determine the NCAA tournament bracket. With sixteen teams in the post-season event, finishing in the top 4 of the Pairwise would enable the RedHawks to obtain a #1 seed enhancing their chances of advancing in the tournament. We'll look more closely at the national numbers as the season progresses, but at the halfway mark, Miami has done what they've needed to give themselves a chance to accomplish their season's goals. And, at least on paper, Miami's second half schedule is a little easier than the first, but that's why they play the games and there is still a lot of hockey to be played.

For the weekend, Miami's penalty kill unit was a perfect 15 for 15 helping lead the RedHawks to the first back-to-back shutouts over the same opponent, and just the fourth time its happened at any time in school history. The PK unit is now ranked 6th nationally, killing 88.7% of shorthanded opportunities.

Columbus, Ohio -

After winning Friday night's opener 5-3, the Ohio State Buckeyes were stymied by the Michigan Wolverines 2-1 at Value City Arena on the strength of powerplay goals by senior captain Chris Summers and junior Matt Rust and 26 saves by junior goaltender Bryan Hogan.

The Wolverines got on the board first when Summers' scored from the point at 9:50 of the first period. And, on the game-winning goal, Rust would knock home a rebound 21 seconds into the third period to capitalize on a 5x3 powerplay opportunity. Ohio State would close within one with only 11 seconds remaining as junior John Albert scored his fourth goal of the season with the help of an extra attacker. Down 2-0, head coach John Markell pulled goaltender Cal Heeter for an extra skater and it enabled the Buckeyes to trim the deficit to one, but they were unable to tie it despite having one last rush into the Michigan zone.

With the win, Michigan was able to move out of the basement of the CCHA improving to 8-8 overall and 4-6 in the CCHA, good enough for 10th place. Meanwhile, Ohio State fell to 7-10-1 and 5-6-1-1 in league play and is right in the middle of the packed league standings sitting in 7th place.

For the evening, Michigan was 2-6 on the powerplay and those extra chances did not escape the notice of coach John Markell who was upset about the Buckeyes' lack of discipline.

“We gave them three five-on-threes this weekend with hitting to the head,” Markell said. “We just cost ourselves another game with a stupid penalty. What is disturbing is they are supposedly tough and you’re not going to rattle another guy. They have a facemask on; it means nothing. We’re getting it on retaliatory. It cost us the game. When you give that team five-on-threes, they’re going to score. That is the difference.” (

Moving forward, the Buckeyes have one more series before their holiday break. However, the road does not get easier as they will take on archrival and #1 ranked Miami in a home-and-home. Friday's game will take place in Columbus at 7pm and the rematch a night later at Steve Cady Arena in Oxford also at 7pm (ONN). In fact, after Saturday's series finale against the RedHawks, the Buckeyes do not play again until hosting in-state rival Bowling Green January 8 and 9 at Value City Arena.

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