October 5, 2012 PRINT Bookmark and Share

A New Era For 'The Brotherhood'

by Caleb Saunders/CHN Reporter

An era change is underway for the Miami RedHawks.

The loss of the last two senior classes featuring players like former Hobey Baker winner Andy Miele, Carter Camper, Cody Reichard, Connor Knapp, and Chris Wideman has left opportunities for younger players to step in and fill those roles. The early departures of Reilly Smith and Tyler Biggs have also contributed to the context the RedHawks find themselves in entering the 2012-13 season.

This year’s squad features a freshman class of 11, bringing the total number of underclassmen to 18.

“The one thing that we can’t replace is experience,” said head coach Enrico Blasi.

Blasi believes that the RedHawk team you will see in January and February will be vastly different than the team you see in October and November. He knows that the team chemistry won’t be there right away – a similar story to last season.

Last year’s team only won two of its first eight games. With strong play all-around, particularly at the goaltender position, the RedHawks went on to be arguably the best team in the CCHA during the second half of the season.

Blasi seems confident that he has a good core of young players and a great leader in newly named captain Steven Spinell.

Said Blasi, “He has done a real good job of teaching our younger guys how to work.”

After four years of one of the most successful goalie tandems in recent CCHA memory, the big question has been who’s going to be in net for the RedHawks this season. Now entering the picture are rookies Ryan McKay and Jay Williams. When asked about it, Blasi remains unsure of who will be ‘the guy,’ given the short amount of time he’s been exposed to them on the ice. Nevertheless, Blasi has expressed confidence in both, noting that they have “had real good summers.”

No matter what, McKay and Williams will be among the RedHawks ushering in a new era in Oxford. Perhaps Blasi will continue to rotate netminders – leaving opponents (not to mention the media) guessing each week, attempting to interpret his cryptic suggestions as to who may get the start. Or perhaps one of the rookies will take over the role, becoming one day the type of player mentioned in the same breath as Camper, Miele, Knapp and Reichard.

But either way, it's a season of transition for Miami. It's a program that, under Blasi, has created a sustained level of excellence matched by few programs.

But the program has been more affected by defections recently than it had been in earlier seasons, something it had taken a lot of pride in, and rightfully so.

Still, given what Miami has achieved and the successes the RedHawks have had in the last several years – even, as many will remember, finding themselves within seconds of winning a national championship – one has to wonder how good this team could be in a couple of years.

And if Blasi, and captain Spinell, and star forward Austin Czarnik can figure out a recipe to evolve more quickly, who knows? The new era may be the one that RedHawk fans in Oxford have anticipated for so long.

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