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Miami Redhawks to face No. 3 Denver as the puck drops on the NCHC playoffs

<p>Jack Clement is the captain of the 2022-23 Miami RedHawks hockey team</p>

Jack Clement is the captain of the 2022-23 Miami RedHawks hockey team

The Miami University Redhawks hockey team finished their regular season on a disappointing note. After taking a 4-2 lead against Western Michigan on March 4, they allowed two goals with the goalie pulled and eventually lost less than one minute into overtime. 

Now that the regular season is over, it’s time for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) playoffs. 

The Redhawks ended with a record of 8-22-4 with a record of 3-18-3 within the conference, which means they’re the last seed in the playoffs. They’ll face the Denver University Pioneers in a best two out of three matchup in the NCHC quarterfinals.

Since Denver is the number-one seed in the tournament, the Redhawks will travel to Magness Arena in Denver, Colorado.

The Pioneers ended the year with a record of 28-8-0 and a conference record of 19-5-0. They’re the top seed in the conference by 12 points, ranked the third-best team in the NCAA, and as the icing on the cake, are the reigning NCAA champions.

Miami lost all four of their matchups against the Pioneers this season by a combined score of 22-2, including two back-to-back 7-0 losses at home.

Head Coach Chris Bergeron was asked about the upcoming playoff series and said that his team still needed to focus for the matchup. 

“We have to believe,” Bergeron said. “They’re a really good team, and they play well at home, and it’s a place that we haven’t played well in. So the belief is that we can play better.”

Senior captain defenseman Jack Clement echoed those sentiments in his comments during a press conference before heading to Denver.

“We just want to play free this weekend,” Clement said. “We’re looking to go there and battle, and put up a fight. We’re looking to extend our season.”

As for the rest of the NCHC, Western Michigan, the second seed in the NCHC and the seventh-ranked team in the nation, will be facing off against Colorado College, the seventh seed in the NCHC, at Lawson Arena in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Omaha and North Dakota will be battling in a quarterfinal matchup as the three and six seeds at Baxter Arena in Nebraska. 

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Finally, St. Cloud State – the fourth seed in the NCHC and number eight ranked team in the NCAA – and Minnesota Duluth, the fifth seed in the conference, are matched together. 

The NCHC is the best conference in the nation, with plenty of firepower at the top. It’s going to be a tough fight for Miami, as they haven’t beaten Denver in 10 consecutive games, a streak that started in December 2020.

The Redhawks could take a huge step forward with a solid 60 minutes of play in an arena they have struggled in over the past few seasons. And, the NCHC playoffs as a whole are sure to be a dogfight.