MU begins CCHA play
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 21:10
The Miami University men’s ice hockey team (3-0-1) opens Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) play on opposing ice this weekend as they travel north to face the University of Michigan.
After finishing off the season’s first homestand with a tie and a win vs. Providence College, the RedHawks rose in the polls for the third straight week, landing at No. 3 in the country. The No. 6 Wolverines will be Miami’s first road test and highest ranked opponent to date.
“First of all, they’re a talented team and we’re going into a hostile environment, so our focus will be to be ready to play a complete game,” Head Coach Enrico Blasi said. “We have to be ready physically, emotionally and mentally. This is going to be a huge test for our young team. It’s exciting and I know we’ll be better coming out of the weekend than we are going in.”
Hostile environment might be an understatement. Yost Ice Arena boasts a 6,603 capacity and is regarded by visiting teams as one of the most intimidating college hockey atmospheres, which is why Miami’s senior captain Steven Spinell said self-possession is key.
“[Yost] can eat you up if you’re not ready for it,” Spinell said. “When we get there, my job as a leader is to keep the emotions at a manageable level and have the young guys be confident enough to not get caught up in the chaos, because it’s going to get loud.”
Though there might be some nerves, the overwhelmingly young RedHawks are, more than anything, excited. For almost half of the team, this will be the first series away from home at Miami. Freshman forward Riley Barber, who was named CCHA Rookie of the Week after tallying a career-high three points Saturday, said that a strong start is important when playing such a high-caliber team at their house.
“We’re real excited to get the [CCHA] season started and match ourselves up against the best,” Barber said. “I played at Yost last year and it was pretty unreal, but I think we’ve got to have a good first five minutes to really take the crowd out of it, and just play our game and skate with them.”
Michigan got off to a slow start this year after dropping its first game to the Rochester Institute of Technology. The Wolverines quickly recovered, winning their next two while up 17 total goals in their first three games. Containing the Michigan offense will be of the utmost importance for Miami, which includes shutting down leading scorer A.J. Treais, who has accumulated five points this season.
“Just making sure they don’t get out to an early lead is really important,” Blasi said. “We’ve got to go in with a good frame of mind and just make sure that we’re sticking to our system and playing our game.”
The puck drops 7:35 p.m. Oct. 26-27 at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich. as the RedHawks enter their 32nd and final season of CCHA play.