Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Northeast #1: Miami

Miami University RedHawks

1 seed vs. New Hampshire, Northeast Regional (Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, NH)
CCHA Tournament Champions
Record: 23-9-6
Coach: Enrico Blasi

The Miami RedHawks come into this game unbeaten in their last 13, and winners of their last 7 straight, including a 6-2 decimation of Notre Dame in the CCHA semifinals and a 5-2 thumping of Western Michigan in the championship game, which gave them their first banner at the Joe.

It didn't always seem like it would be this way for the RedHawks. Prior to that streak, they were wandering around getting swept by Ohio State and losing 4-7 to a Michigan State team that finished 10th in conference. The next night after the MSU loss, Enrico Blasi sat four skaters he didn't think were playing up to their potential, the RedHawks shut out the Spartans 4-0, and the current unbeaten streak was born.

This year's Miami team looks a lot like other Miami teams of recent vintage: They lead the CCHA in offense, behind senior Hobey Baker candidate Andy Miele, who leads the nation in points by a whopping 14 with his eye-popping 24-47--71 line. However, Miele doesn't even lead his own team in goals. That honor goes to his left wing, freshman Reilly Smith (28-26--54). Somewhere in the middle is a guy who'd be in the mix for the Hobey if he played on any other team, fellow senior Carter Camper, whose 19-37--56 is good for #3 in the nation in points. Camper centers what is nominally the fourth line, while Miele and Smith are on the top line with Trent Vogelhuber.

Miami's goaltenders Cody Reichard (2.05 GAA, .911 SV%) and Connor Knapp (2.03 GAA, .909) are both juniors and are nearly statistically identical, and both have seemingly taken a step back from last year, where each posted a .921 SV%.

It's also worth noting that the RedHawks as a team are #2 in the nation on the powerplay and an identical #2 on the penalty kill, the only team in the country in the top 5 in both special teams areas. So it's probably a bad idea to take penalties against Miami, but they don't hurt themselves that much when they go to the box.

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