What a difference one minute makes.
The Miami RedHawks led Boston University 3-1 with under one minute remaining in the 2009 national championship game. The Terriers roared back, scoring two extra-attacker goals in the final 60 seconds of regulation. After almost twelve excruciating minutes of overtime, Colby Cohen’s shot deflected, looped, and dropped into the net, giving BU their fifth national championship.
Miami was one minute from hanging their first NCAA championship banner.
Instead of folding the tent, Enrico Blasi’s RedHawks have gone 83-45-20 (.628) since that game and appear poised to make another deep run in the NCAA’s this season. Forwards Austin Czarnik and Riley Barber are dynamic together and scored 12 points (6g, 6a) in a sweep against Ohio State last weekend.
For North Dakota, the Danny Kristo and Corban Knight era is over, and the Green and White will need to find a more balanced offensive attack to compete every weekend. Five different players scored UND’s seven goals last weekend against Vermont, with sophomore forwards Rocco Grimaldi (2g, 3a) and Drake Caggiula (2g, 2a) leading the way.
Both teams fell one game short of the Frozen Four last season, with Miami dropping a 4-1 contest to St. Cloud State and North Dakota losing 4-1 to eventual national champion Yale.
I have these two programs finishing #1 and #2 in the first season of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. To check out my complete NCHC season preview and find out who I think will come out on top, click here.
Miami Team Profile
Head Coach: Enrico Blasi (15th season at Miami, 313-196-53, .604)
National Ranking: #1
This Season: 2-0-0, 0-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 25-12-5 overall (NCAA Midwest Regional finalist), 17-7-4-4 CCHA (1st)
2012-2013 Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 2.52 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 1.74 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 15.9% (28 of 176)
Penalty Kill: 88.6% (171 of 193)
Key players (2012-13 statistics): Junior F Austin Czarnik (14-26-40), Sophomore F Riley Barber (15-24-39), Junior F Cody Murphy (11-9-20), Sophomore D Matthew Caito (5-16-21), Sophomore G Ryan McKay (13-7-2, 1.39 GAA, .946 SV%, 4 SO)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (10th season at UND, 236-119-38, .649)
National Ranking: #6
This Season: 1-0-1, 0-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 22-13-7 overall (NCAA West Regional finalist), 14-7-7 WCHA (3rd)
2012-2013 Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.21 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.45 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.4% (32 of 165)
Penalty Kill: 84.1% (132 of 157)
Key Players (2012-13 statistics): Sophomore F Rocco Grimaldi (13-23-36), Junior F Mark MacMillan (13-12-25), Sophomore F Drake Caggiula (8-8-16), Sophomore F Michael Parks (7-1-8 in 25 games), Senior D Dillon Simpson (5-19-24), Junior D Nick Mattson (3-12-15), Senior G Clarke Saunders (13-9-4, 2.30 GAA, .917 SV%, 2 SO)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: November 28, 2009 (Subway Holiday Classic, Grand Forks, ND). In the teams’ first and only meeting at Ralph Engelstad Arena, the two powerhouses skated to a 5-5 draw. Miami came back from a two goal deficit in the third period, with RedHawks forward Reilly Smith (2g, 1a) scoring the equalizer with under three minutes remaining to earn the tie. Freshman forward Danny Kristo scored two goals and added an assist and was named the tournament MVP after a four point weekend. Both teams came in to the contest allowing under two goals per game.
Most Important Meeting: The most important meeting is the one about to be played. This matchup kicks off the inaugural season of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and has far-reaching NCAA playoff implications.
All-time Series: North Dakota leads the all-time series 2-0-1. The teams have never played in Oxford, Ohio (home of the Miami RedHawks), but UND did win a 3-0 tilt at the Lefty McFadden Invitational (Dayton, OH) in October of 2005.
Game News and Notes
After this weekend’s games, Miami will not play another conference series until November 8-9 at St. Cloud State. North Dakota will host St. Cloud State on November 1st and 2nd. UND senior netminder Clarke Saunders is the only current player to have faced the RedHawks. Saunders started two games for Alabama-Huntsville in February 2012, stopping 73 of 80 shots in a pair of losses. Miami is one of 12 schools in NCAA men’s hockey to start this season with a pair of victories.
This series will be as tightly contested as any October contests, with both teams wanting to set the tone early in this rivalry and this new conference season. Look for Miami to blitz North Dakota early, with UND grabbing a close victory on Saturday for the split. Miami 4-2, UND 3-2.
Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.