Who's In Goal for Miami?
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
DETROIT There's only one team with a question as to who will start in net in Thursday's semifinal — Miami.
Whether coach Enrico Blasi has decided yet or not, he isn't saying, choosing to remain coy about the situation.
"The cardinals will meet at the Mariott [team hotel]," Blasi said. "If you see black smoke, you know we decided. If you see white smoke, you know we're still deliberating."
Joking aside, the coaching staff has quite a decision to make ... again. On the one hand, it's a good decision to have to make — choosing between a pair of quality netminders in sophomores Connor Knapp and Cody Reichard. On the other hand, it does have its challenges.
"I don't worry about keeping both sharp because they are the hardest workers," Blasi said. "They are the first ones to the rink and the last to leave. It's hard telling one that they are not playing, but that goes for anyone on our team. That is one of the things as a coach that you don't look forward to. As a coaching staff, we love every one of our players and we have to tell six guys that they are not playing every night. That is a tough thing to do, but it is what it is and we have to move forward."
Last year, the pair rotated all season until Miami was eliminated in the CCHA tournament's quarterfinals. When it came time for the NCAAs, the older Reichard got the start in all four NCAA games.
This year, the pair rotated more or less all season again, though Knapp missed time with an illness. In the postseason, it's continued to go back and forth, with Reichard starting the first round win over Alabama-Huntsville, and Knapp starting the double OT regional finals win over Michigan.
Unlike Miami's previous goaltending rotation of Charlie Effinger and Jeff Zatkoff, these two guys have different styles, which gives Blasi and his staff a true choice.
"In Jeff and Charlie, they were probably more similar goalies than Connor and Cody," Blasi said. "Connor is just totally different looking than Cody, and Cody is very athletic, and Connor plays his angles very well and is very systematic in how he plays his position. It's a great 1-2 punch because you really can't prepare for one guy, and I think it's an advantage for us."
However, Blasi was emphatic that the decision doesn't come down to the tendencies of the other team. It's more about what's going on in practice, and, frankly, a gut feeling.
"We talk about it a lot," Blasi said. "Our staff, we're very close, so we talk about it daily and we get everybody's input, and obviously we're watching to see what's going on in practice, everybody's demeanor, and obviously we get the feedback from Cody and Connor."
Most coaches want to go with one goalie by postseason time, at least. Wisconsin has settled on Scott Gudmandson, Boston College on John Muse. RIT has had Jared DeMichiel as its No. 1 all year.
But the uncertainly has not been a distraction to Reichard or Knapp.
"I think the credit goes to Connor and Cody," Blasi said. "They are both very competitive yet very supportive. And at the end of the day, it's not about an individual on our team, it's about our team. These guys are not worried about who gets the limelight, it's about our team and whoever we can call on tomorrow night, we know that the team will play confident in front of him and we know the person in net will play his heart out."