Tough Test for Lefty Field
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
In just its third season of existence, the Lefty McFadden College Hockey Invitational, taking place this weekend, can boast being one of the top in-season tournaments.
Those kinds of things are usually judged by the types of teams that are attracted, and on that count, the McFadden compares very well. Miami is a constant, hosting in Dayton, Ohio, which is just down the road from its home in Oxford.
In Year 1, Miami was joined by Ohio State and Denver. Last season, Michigan, Boston University and Northeastern participated.
This season, the RedHawks are joined by North Dakota, Wayne State and Michigan State. In a departure from previous years, like the Icebreaker, the format is not a pure tournament, but rather each team will play two games over the two days, Oct. 8-9.
"It's always a good test for everybody early," said Miami coach Enrico Blasi. Miami plays North Dakota on Saturday, then Wayne State on Sunday.
"North Dakota, they're young and will be better," Blasi said.
Miami has one exhibition game under its belt, as does North Dakota, but this will be the first time the team can really stretch its legs.
"We sat about five of our regulars," said Blasi. "It's hard to evaluate after one practice. I think we'll be a little bit better."
Each of this year's teams has appeared in the NCAA hockey tournament at least once in the past three years. In all, North Dakota has won the 'Frozen Four' seven times-the last in 2000. Michigan State has won the Frozen Four twice.
"If you play in the 'Lefty', you jump right into the fire as far competition goes," said Blasi. "There are no automatic wins in this tournament. This year is no exception. It is a great field."
The tournament is named for the "Father of Dayton Hockey" and Dayton area sports and community icon, the late Ed 'Lefty' McFadden.
Next year, Miami will participate in the Icebreaker, hosting it at its new arena being built to replace the outdated Goggin Ice Arena. It won't be a gimme, however, to christen its new building; the field at the Icebreaker will include BU, Denver and Colgate.
"That's OK," said Blasi. "We don't mind that."