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Miami, MSU set for NCAA collision

Ryan McKay is a pretty good goaltender, and that means one thing: He’s got a short memory.

The Miami University freshman got pulled after giving up four goals in about 32 minutes against Michigan last weekend, but he’s eager to hit the ice at the Huntington Center on Saturday when the RedHawks face Minnesota State Mankato in the NCAA Midwest Regional.

“Absolutely. I can’t wait for the first shot of the game,” said McKay, tabbed by MU coach Enrico Blasi as Saturday’s starter between the pipes. “The Michigan game is one of those games that happens once a year where bounces are going against you, and we didn’t play our best game overall. It was kind of a crap time for it to happen, but at the end of the day, we’ve got bigger fish to fry in this tournament.”

No. 2 seed Miami (24-11-5) and third-seeded MSU (24-13-3) will meet in the second regional semifinal at 5 p.m. The RedHawks have a lot of young players (18 freshmen and sophomores), but so do the Mavericks (16 players in those two classes).

“You put together a body of work throughout the year that would hopefully prepare this team to play at this time of the year,” Blasi said. “A couple of our guys played for a world championship. It doesn’t get any bigger than that.”

It’s the eighth straight NCAA appearance for MU, which has been knocked out in the first round the last two years. Minnesota State has made it this far just once before, losing its opener in 2002-03.

“There are a lot of guys on each roster that have not been here before,” Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. “Just because you’ve been here doesn’t guarantee you success, and because you’ve never been here doesn’t mean that you’re going to fall on your face. It’s an opportunity. That’s what we talk about being excited about.”

MSU has a potent power play that ranks fifth in the country. Miami is ranked sixth nationally on the penalty kill.

“(The RedHawks) play a style where they don’t mind getting up and down the rink, but they’re going to be responsible with what they’re doing,” Hastings said. “At this time of the year, the difference between winning and losing is going to be a small margin.”

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