Miami opens CCHA schedule at Michigan

Both teams feature freshmen in net

WHO: No. 3 Miami RedHawks (3-0-1) at No. 6 Michigan Wolverines (2-1).

WHERE: Yost Arena, Ann Arbor, Mich.

WHEN: Friday and Saturday, 7:35 p.m.

TV: Friday—ComCast Michigan (only available in Michigan). Saturday—None.

MIAMI RADIO: WKBV-AM (1490) Richmond, Ind., both nights. WMOH-AM (1450) Hamilton, Ohio, on Saturday.

NOTES: With such a young team it would have been nice if Miami could have eased its way into its conference schedule, but the RedHawks will open CCHA play on the road in one of the most hostile venues in the country on Friday.

Miami has a woeful 5-45-1 record in Ann Arbor and is 26-71-4 all-time vs. the Wolverines.

The Wolverines opened the season by splitting with RIT, losing the opener 5-4 in overtime before taking the finale, 7-2, and Michigan beat Bentley 6-3 last weekend.

Neither opponent is even receiving a vote in the top 20, and all three games were at Yost, so this will be the first major test of the season for Michigan as well.

Like Miami, the Wolverines have a pair of freshmen goaltenders. Jared Rutledge started Michigan's season opener and allowed five goals on 26 shots – an .808 save percentage – and surrendered the game-winning goal 14 seconds into OT.

Steve Racine has played the previous two games and won both with a 2.50 goals-against average and a mercurial .896 save percentage.

Senior Lee Moffie leads the Michigan blueline corps, having played 105 goals and racking up 20 goals and 42 assists in his career. Moffie, a San Jose selection in 2010, is one of four Wolverines defensemen that have been drafted.

Freshman Jacob Trouba was taken in the first round, ninth overall by the Winnipeg Jets in June, and he already has two goals and two assists in three games.

Junior Mac Bennett has a goal and three helpers and the Montreal Canadiens draft pick recorded 33 points in his first two seasons with Michigan.

Sophomores Brennan Serville, also a Jets draft pick, and sophomore Mike Chiasson, son of the late former NHL defenseman Steve Chiasson, have also started all three games on the blue line for the Wolverines.

Michigan is without junior Devils' second-rounder Jon Merrill, a major cog on defense who injured his back in the team's exhibition game. Sophomore Mike Szuma and junior Kevin Clare are filling his void until he returns in a few weeks.

At forward, senior A.J. Treais is Michigan's leading active scorer with 34 goals and 38 assists, including three markers and a pair of assists so far this season.

Sophomores Carolina draft pick Phil Di Giuseppe (1-3-4) and Dallas selection Alex Guptill (2-1-3) are off to fast starts for the Wolverines, as are undrafted junior Derek DeBlois (1-2-3) and Rangers draftee freshman Cristoval Nieves (0-3-3).

And senior Lindsay Sparks, Columbus draft pick senior Kevin Lynch and junior Colorado seventh-rounder Luke Moffatt are key veteran two-way forwards for the Wolverines.

This will be the first road series for Miami this season, which has gotten off to a great start despite its insanely young roster that had 10 freshmen among its 20 on the lineup card in Saturday's overtime win over Providence.

Miami has gotten two brilliant performances from freshman goalie Ryan McKay, who leads the nation with a 0.48 GAA and is second by a few ten-thousandths of a point in save percentage at .984.

McKay has been the Friday starter both weekends and there is no reason to believe that will change this weekend. The question is whether he will play Saturday as well if he put on another show.

The other RedHawks freshman goalie – Jay Williams – has very good numbers through two games (1-0-1, 1.94 GAA, .915 save percentage), just not superhuman.

It is likely Williams will get a shot on Saturday because Miami coach Enrico Blasi has made it clear his young players will only get better with experience, and shelving a goalie that has played pretty well overall after two games would seem to go against that philosophy.

Miami will probably be without senior defenseman Joe Hartman again for these games, since he was seen at Cady Arena with a boot on his foot last weekend.

Sophomore Alex Wideman, who missed last weekend after a very strong series vs. Colgate, admitted on his Twitter page that he has mono, and he missed last weekend's games and is likely out for the Michigan series as well.

Sophomore Jimmy Mullin was out Saturday but showed no sign of injury at the rink during that game, so hopefully he will return to the lineup on Friday. Mullin was injured on a dirty knee-to-knee hit in Ann Arbor last season and would love to help beat Michigan in these games.

So far on offense, sophomore Blake Coleman has been a force with four goals and an assist, and freshman Riley Barber has scored in three straight games and has three markers and a pair of assists.

Sophomore Austin Czarnik,

who is quickly turning into one of the best two-way forwards ever to play for Miami, has two goals and three assists, leads the team in plus-minus at plus-5 and tops all forwards in blocked shots with eight.

Speaking of blocks, the RedHawks have rejected 89 shots through four games.

That's an average of 22 per game.

Freshman defenseman Taylor Richart leads the team with 18, and senior defenseman Stephen Spinell has 12.

This will be a major test for the RedHawks' special teams, which has performed fairly well after losing almost all of its penalty killers and a good chunk of its power play.

Miami fared decent on the man advantage in its first four games (17.6 percent) and very well on the PK (95.0 percent), but Michigan always has strong power play units and good defensive forwards and stay-at-home defensemen.

The Wolverines are 18.8 percent on the power play and 10-for-10 on the penalty kill.
 


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