The #6 Miami Dynasty invades Yost Ice Arena this weekend for what can only be described as the biggest series of the season for us, thusfar. Michigan sits nine points behind the RedHawks in the CCHA with two games in hand. Sweep the series, and we're five back with the potential to be just one point back after we play our extra games. Anything short of two wins and you can probably say "Ohhhh cya" to the CCHA crown, barring Miami having a couple more weekends like they had last week.
Miami swept the Wolverines down in Oxford 2-0 and 2-1 in a series that saw some excellent goaltending, horrid officiating, lots of hitting, stellar penalty killing, and one of the most inept broadcasting performances in history.
Here are 10 Things to know about our series this weekend:
1) The RedHawks are 12-5-3 overall and 10-2-2-1 in the CCHA. They were ranked #2 up until last weekend when they took it on the chin, losing to Clarkson and Army (!) in the Ohio Hockye Classic. They sit second in the CCHA, one point behind Notre Dame (thanks to one extra shootout point for the Irish).
2) The guns are still the ones you'd expect. Carter Camper (and I swear I type Campfer every time) leads the team with 12 goals and 27 points in 20 games, good for 8th in the country in points per game. Pat Cannone ::cough::goon::cough:: is also above a point a game with an 8-14--22 line. Justin Mercier has five of his seven tallies with the man advantage. Freshman Chris Wideman is the only RedHawk defender that really gets on the scoresheet. He has 15 assist so far this year. No other blueliner has more than 4 points.
3) Their goaltending is still split right down the middle, and with the numbers that those freshmen have put up, why change anything? They've each played ten games. Cody Reichard is 5-3-2 with a 1.89/.925 and Connor Knapp is 7-2-1 with a 1.89/.917. They're 10th and 11th in the country in GAA. Reichard had gone seven straight without giving up more than two goals, but he got shelled against Clarkson, giving up 4 on just 19 shots. He plays the first game of the weekend. Knapp hasn't given up more than three in a game this year, but he also hasn't been tested very much. He's faced 30 shots in a game just one time all season, and hasn't made 20 stops since we last faced him.
4) Camper is on a roll with two four-point efforts in his last five games (and another multi-point game to boot). He's got 5-6--11 in his last five games. Tommy Wingels is usually very good against us. He has fifteen points on the season, but 11 have come in his last seven games.
5) The RedHawks have the #10 offense in the country at 3.35 goals per game. Defensively they're sixth at 1.90 gpg.
6) They've toned down the penalties since we last faced them. Before our last meeting, they were averaging 22 minutes a night. That's down to 19 a game, which puts them as the 10th most penalized team in the country.
7) Their PK is still outstanding. It's not at the 96% that it was when we last faced them, but they're still #2 in the country at 92.8%. The power play matches their offensive ranking, #10 in the country. They're clicking on 20% of their power plays, but have allowed five shorthanded goals. Only Mercyhurst, Holy Cross, and Nebraska-Omaha have allowed more. If you'll recall, the Michigan penalty killers were absolutely outstanding the last time we met. Miami had a couple of long 5 on 3s and a five minute major that the Wolverines were able to kill off. The RedHawks didn't score a PPG the entire weekend, though they did put one in a few seconds after a long power play expired.
8) Michigan leads the all-time series with Miami 66-20-3. Michigan is just 3-5-1 in the last nine against Miami, however. Brandon Naurato leads all Wolverine scorers with 4 career points against Miami. Aaron Palushaj is the only Wolverine with more than one career goal against them. He has a 2-1--3 line in five games. As for the goalies, Bryan Hogan is 0-1-0 all-time against our opponent, with a 2.04/.941 in the second meeting down in Oxford. Sauer probably won't play, but he's 3-3-1 with a 2.97/.901, largely aided by his stellar performance at the Joe in the CCHA Tournament last year.
9) Enrico Blasi is looking for career win #200 this weekend. Mercier (2-5--7 in 9 games) and Miele (4-2--6 in 5 games) have been the Wolverine killers. We've actually done a really good job on Cannone. He has just one assist in five games against Michigan.
10) Friday's game is a Maize Out and will be televised live on FSN Plus. That's channel 901 on Comcast, 738 on ATT, 452 on Dish Network (woot!), and 664 on DirecTV. If I remember right, it's somewhere in the teens on WOW. 13 maybe? Saturday's game is the usual: Live on Comcast 900 in Metro Detroit and the NHL Network in Canada, tape delayed on the NHL Network in the US on Sunday around noonish.
-David Wohlberg was the CCHA Rookie of the Month for December.
-Mark Mitera is set to resume skating on his own, which is a really great sign as he tries to return from a torn ACL. Red won't put a timetable on his return, but the fact that he's skating in early January probably bodes well for him returning in time for the CCHA Playoffs at the very least. That's huge.
-The Under 17s won the bronze medal in the World Under 17 Challenge behind a hat trick from Jacob Fallon.