RedHawks head north to face Lake Superior
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 23:02
With two weeks remaining in league play, the Miami University men’s hockey team is perched precariously atop the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) standings with 50 points. The No. 3 RedHawks (19-8-5, 12-6-4-4 CCHA) are just two points ahead of Western Michigan, and three points in front of Notre Dame, with whom they split last weekend’s series. They’ve also secured a first round bye in the fast-approaching league tournament. So is this where head coach Enrico Blasi expected his young team would be on the final stretch of the regular season?
“I thought at this point we’d be in a position to fight for home ice [in the CCHA tournament],” Blasi said. “But we always thought we had something in our locker room that we could mold into a pretty good team, it’s just that our team has been more consistent than I thought it would be, and that’s a credit to all the players and all the work they’ve done.”
Miami has a chance to maintain its first place status this weekend against Lake Superior State University. The Lakers (15-16-1, 10-13-1-1 CCHA) don’t boast the strongest record, but do boast a smash-mouth, physical brand of hockey. Though just 3-6-1 in their last ten games, the Blue and Yellow are coming off a sweep of Alaska and are looking to extend their winning streak on home ice.
Senior forward Marc Hagel is looking forward to his first trip up to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The transfer from Princeton is known for his hard-nosed play and frenetic pace on the ice, which should match up well against his opponent’s style.
“Every weekend I’m grateful to get out on the ice and play, but I love playing against these guys,” Hagel said. “They’re big, strong, fast, and going to hit you. And they have a couple buddies I played juniors with from back home in Canada, so it’s always good to see them.”
This isn’t the first time this year the RedHawks have gone toe to toe against the Lakers. In its Dec. 7-8 series in Oxford, Miami split the series with Lake State, earning Lake State the distinction of being the only team to beat Miami within the walls of the Goggin Ice Center this year. Blasi looks to that as evidence of his opponent’s competitiveness.
“It gives us an idea of how they play, and it’s probably one of the hardest teams you’re going to play against,” Blasi said. “They’re big, they’re strong, their compete level is as good as anybody. It’s going to be a tough weekend, so we’re going to have to be ready to go.”
With the transition to post-season play just weeks away, Hagel is as excited as anyone – but he buys into his coach’s mentality, and that is to take it one step at a time.
“If you would have said this was the position we’d be in at the start of the year, what would you say,” Hagel said. “I’d say ‘sign me up,’ because we’ve put the work in and we’re happy to be here, and it’s a great position to be in, but by no means is it over. We’ve got work to do.”
The two-game series will be played on Feb. 22-23 at the Taffy Abel Ice Arena. The puck drops at 7:35 and 7:05 on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively.