First off, congrats to the Michigan basketball team on a huge win against #4 UCLA tonight (Michigan's first win against a top-five team in almost 11 years). I haven't written about basketball much because it's not a sport I know a whole lot about, but I've been genuinely excited about the prospects this season. I was looking forward to this game all week, bet on Michigan outright at Centsports, and I was thrilled that they pulled this one off. It's amazing that we actually have an offensive system that isn't "Dribble out the shot clock and jack a bad three", we have a defensive system that actually confused a high-quality team, guys have improved in the offseason. The whole second half I was waiting for the long drought and it never came. Douglass's three pointer? Nails. That one-touch pass to Sims for the flush was the nicest Michigan basketball play that I've seen since before Ellerbe was coaching. Big win and I couldn't be happier for those guys. I was looking forward to wearing my new maize Michigan hockey jersey tomorrow, but I think I might hafta bust out the bball jersey instead. Huge win, especially since they don't even have Lucas-Perry yet.
Now on to hockey and 10 things to know about the Dynasty that we're facing this week.
1) Miami is 6-3-3 on the season and 6-2-2-1 in the CCHA, putting them 5 points ahead of us (we have two games in hand). They're actually just 2-2-1 at home, however. They've got two impressive road sweeps (Notre Dame and MSU), but lost at home to Ferris and Alaska, and took just one "point" during a road series against Vermont.
2) They're breaking in two freshmen goalies and the kids got off to a rough start, giving up 3,3,4,3 in the first four games. Since then, however, Miami hasn't given up more than two goals in a game (a streak of eight games). Those games came against the #12, 25, 40, and 57 (only RPI is scoring fewer goals per game than MSU...) ranked offenses in the country.
3) Their goal-scoring has been a little hot and cold. They scored just five goals in sweeping Notre Dame, put up 1 and then 5 against UA, 2 and 1 against Ferris and then popped in 8 against MSU. Overall, they rank #17 in offense, .16 goals per game behind Michigan.
4) I have to give their defense credit. I was skeptical before the season due to the youth in net, but they currently have the #12 defensive team in the country and are allowing fewer than 2 goals per game. Both goalies have save percentages in the 92-93% range and both have GAAs below two. Cody Reichard has been playing Fridays and Connor Knapp has been playing Saturdays, so I imagine that's what we'll see again. Knapp has given up just three goals in his last four apperances.
5) This shouldn't be a shocker, they're led offensively by Pat Cannone (6-10--16) and Carter Camper (6-8--14). They've also got the ever dangerous Justin Mercier and Andy Miele (who was awesome in our series against them last year). Nine different players have scored PPGs, and eight have seven or more points. Ganzak and Martinez are gone, so they lost a lot of points from the blueline (61 from that duo alone), but freshman Chris Wideman has eight points (all assists) in 12 games to replace at least some of that scoring.
6) Looooooots of penalties so far. Miami is the third-most penalized team in the country at 22 minutes a night. Fortunately for the RedHawks, they have the #1 PK in the country at 96.1%, and if you factor in short handed goals that they've scored, they're just -1 on their opponents' 76 power play chances this year.
7) They're also great on the power play, #2 in the country at 22.9% (second to BU, and I think we can take credit for their #1 ranking). Four of Mercier's five goals have come with the man advantage. Cannone, Camper and Palmer also have multiple PPGs.
8) We have Honeybaked, they have the Cedar Rapids Roughriders. Seven of Miami's players played for Cedar Rapids right before they came to Miami. 17 of their guys have come from the USHL.
9) Michigan leads the all-time series 66-18-3. Aaron Palushaj had 2-1--3 in the three games against the RedHawks last year. He's actually the only player on our roster with more than 1 career goal against Miami. Hogan has never faced Miami but Sauer is 3-2-1 in his career with a 3.13/.897. He was strong in both of our wins against the RedHawks last year.
10) Both games this weekend can be seen on the NHL Network. Friday night's game will be shown live and Saturday's game will be live in Canada and shown on tape-delay Sunday afternoon in the United States. Let me say again, I love the NHL Network.
The Wolverines received signed letters of intent from Chris Brown, AJ Treais, and Kevin Lynch, all members of the USA NTDP Under 18 team. Lee Moffie will be in at some point, it's just a matter of when ($ link), which is interesting.
Also, Steve Kampfer was given the go-ahead to remove his neck brace. A reader who has been very accurate in the past wrote in to say that if all goes well, he could be back playing very early in the new year, which would be amazing. Clearly they'll be careful with him, but it's really great to think that he should be able to see the ice again this season. If we can get Kampfer and Mitera back at some point, Summers probably gets to move back up front again, which helps the offense as well. In the meantime, you've got to like the improved play of Greg Pateryn.
The Middletown Press had an article about Lee Moffie and his success at the Junior A Challenge.
I think that's all I've got for tonight. It'll be interesting to see if Michigan sticks with Sauer Friday and Hogan Saturday or if they change it up at all. Miami may not be the offensive powerhouse they were last year, but they're getting great goaltending, playing good defense, their special teams are outstanding, and you know they're going to be looking to make a statement after they fell flat on their face against Michigan last year. Michigan better come out with a much better Friday effort if they expect it to be a game tomorrow.