Hockey team looks to rebound, gets set to face Broncos
Miami Captain Ryan Jones and the RedHawks are struggling through a four game winless streak.
After dropping from first to fifth in national polls over a short but disappointing two weeks, the Miami University hockey team (26-6-1 overall, 17-6-1 CCHA) returns home for a series with the Western Michigan University Broncos (7-22-3 overall, 3-19-2 CCHA) this weekend.
The last time WMU came to town, Miami fans witnessed hockey history in what has become infamously known as the "2 in 22" game. This time around, Miami will just be looking to break their current four-game winless streak.
"Every team has a point in the season where bounces may not go their way," said junior alternate captain Kevin Roeder. "We have to dig deep to find the intangibles that make this team great. Great teams find ways to overcome these obstacles."
After dropping two conference series to Ferris State University and the University of Michigan, the RedHawks have been working hard to fix some of the bumps and bruises that have plagued their last four contests, namely the issue of scoring first. In their past four games, Miami has watched their opponent draw first blood.
"We are a good puck possession team and we are good down low in the other team's zone," said senior alternate captain Nathan Davis. "We are better when we play a more controlled game, and you can't do that when you fall behind, so scoring first is huge for us and for our momentum."
Western Michigan is coming into the series riding a winless streak of its own, losing or tying its last seven matchups. For the 2008 calendar year, Western Michigan has only one win to its credit.
However statistics such as these are irrelevant. By falling to a non-ranked Ferris State University, the RedHawks have proved that no competition is in the bag.
"We need to maintain our mentality and make sure we don't take any days off," Davis said. "We got away from our natural game the past few weeks, and I think the results speak for that."
Despite dropping to No. 5 in the polls, the team does not want fans to lose faith in them, as they realize that every team goes through slumps at some point. The question is can the Red and White recover from their battle wounds?
"We need to prove that we can respond," Davis said. "No championship teams transcend the year without a little adversity. We are excited though because it didn't kill us, which means it can only make us stronger."
Camping outside the Goggin Ice Center in the cold Ohio weather just to see their favorite team in action has proven Miami fans to be more than dedicated. As the RedHawks head back to the comfort of their own rink, they look forward to returning the favor on the ice.
"It's a great atmosphere here," said freshman forward Andy Miele. "Playing in front of the fans gives us a big advantage and a lot of energy. It's nice to have the support around you during the games."
But Miami is going to need more than the support of their trusting fans to get them through the upcoming weekend, and the RedHawks have spent the last few days focusing on regaining their confidence as they develop a new plan of attack for their battle with the Broncos.
"We want to improve our game each day, and that starts in practice," Miele said. "We are working on getting back the attitude the team had at the beginning of the year which is, 'we are winning both games this weekend.'"
Indeed the Red and White must think in terms of dominating their competition.
With some of the most important hockey left in the season the RedHawks need to find the attitude that helped them become a No.1 team.
"There is a lot of hockey left and there is still so much to play for," Davis said. "We are still into it as much as we ever were; it just takes a little rededication."
Rededication is going to be vital for the 'Hawks if they want to come out of the season the same way that they came in-that is, closing each series with a win. And although the post season is rapidly approaching, Miami has made it quite clear their undivided attention remains on Western Michigan and not what is looming in the distance.
"We don't talk about winning a national championship, we don't talk about winning the CCHA," Roeder said. "You play one game at a time, and you win one game at a time."
Friday night, hockey fans will see if they can convert these game plans into execution when they face off against the Western Michigan Broncos at 7:35 p.m. The puck is set to drop Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.
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