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Miami icers headed to Toledo, draw Minnesota State

A plane won’t be necessary as Miami University’s hockey team prepares for its eighth straight NCAA tournament appearance.

The RedHawks are used to traveling long distances for NCAA play, but found out Sunday night that they’ll be heading up Interstate 75 to play at the Huntington Center in Toledo.

MU (24-11-5) is the No. 2 seed and will play No. 3 Minnesota State Mankato (24-13-3) in the Midwest Regional semifinals Saturday at 5 p.m. The first game will feature No. 1 Notre Dame (25-12-3) vs. No. 4 St. Cloud State (23-15-1) at 1:30 p.m.

The regional title will be decided Sunday at 4 p.m. The Frozen Four will be held in Pittsburgh on April 11-13.

Miami is 7-10 in 10 years of NCAA competition and has lost its last two openers after qualifying for the Frozen Four in 2008-09 and 2009-10. The RedHawks lost to Boston University 4-3 in overtime in the 2008-09 national championship game.

Minnesota State has been to the NCAA tournament just once before, losing to Cornell in 2002-03.

The purple-and-gold Mavericks are under the direction of first-year coach Mike Hastings. They finished in a three-way tie for fourth place during the Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular season, losing to Wisconsin 7-2 in the WCHA’s Final Five.

This is just the second winning season in the last 10 years for MSU. The Mavericks were 19-16-4 in 2007-08.

Minnesota State’s top scorers are sophomore forward Matt Leitner (17 goals, 30 assists), senior forward Eriah Hayes (20 goals, 16 assists) and sophomore forward Jean-Paul Lafontaine (nine goals, 26 assists). Freshman goaltender Stephon Williams has a .925 save percentage and a 1.96 goals-allowed average.

Miami is coming off a 6-2 loss to Michigan in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association semifinals Saturday. Notre Dame topped the Wolverines 3-1 to win the championship Sunday afternoon.

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