Friday, February 6, 2015

No. 8 Miami (Ohio) vs. Western Michigan Preview (Soldier Field)

                                    Photo Credit: Rob Wetterholt Jr./M-Live

No. 8 Miami RedHawks vs. Western Michigan Broncos

When/Where: Saturday 3 p.m., Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.

TV: Fox Sports Net/Comcast Chicago

After letting a lead slip away in last Saturday's meeting at Western Michigan, which resulted in a 3-3 tie and an a win in the shootout, No. 8 Miami (15-9-1, 8-6-1-1 NCHC) knows it will have a lot to play for in tomorrow's Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill.

To say that the stage will be bigger would be an understatement as both teams will go from playing in front of 4,067 fans at Lawson Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich., to possibly as many as 61,500 at Soldier Field— along the chilly Chicago lakefront.

No matter the scenario, Miami coach Enrico Blasi embraces being out in the elements.

"[Soldier Field] is a great venue and it is always fun to be outside in the snow," Blasi said. You want to make sure your guys are having fun, but at the same time, focusing on the game."

In the NCHC, the Redhawks stand in fourth place with 26 points, while the Broncos are seventh with 19.

Western Michigan coach Andy Murray knows with nine conference games left, each one will start to matter more.

"I think this game has special significance being here at Soldier Field," Murray said. "This is for points and league seeding and we've played a lot better hockey as of late and will make for a good game tomorrow."

Players To Watch For:

For Western Michigan (11-10-4, 4-7-4-3 NCHC), junior forward Colton Hargrove comes into the game as the team leader in goals with 11 and scored the game-tying goal with 13.9 seconds left in regulation against Miami.

Miami will rely on Cody Murphy for offensive production as he has been on a hot streak in the last 12 games with 13 points (10 goals, 3 assists). 

Key Stats:

The Broncos are eighth in the country on the power-play (23.5 percent).

In its last 12 games, WMU has scored three or more goals eight times.

Miami's scoring defense has seen a sharp uptick from 3.03 goals allowed on average last season to 2.12 this season.

All-Time Series:

Miami leads the all-time series 59-56-11 over WMU and is the longest-running rivalry in the NCHC. The RedHawks are 2-0-1 this season against the Broncos.

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.