The Miami University hockey team has earned some down time, but it’s not exactly a vacation.
Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season champions for the fourth time in school history, the RedHawks have a bye this week as the CCHA tournament gets started at campus sites.
“We’ve given them a few days off,” MU coach Enrico Blasi said. “I think it’s important physically and mentally just to get recharged again. We’ll do some things off the ice, things that we did early in the year at Christmas break, some mental skills we’ve been working on.
“(Today) and Saturday are going to be real hard practices because we don’t play and the team that we’re playing is playing. And next week will pretty much be a regular week.”
Miami (22-9-5) will host the lowest remaining seed — either Lake Superior State, Bowling Green, Northern Michigan or Michigan State — in a best-of-three second-round series next weekend. A victory there would send the RedHawks to the semifinals at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
If the seeds hold true, MU will face Lake State next weekend.
“History has shown that you can’t just prepare for the highest seed,” Blasi said. “All these teams are dangerous because they all have good goaltending. It’s tough to beat a hot goalie.”
The first-round schedule (today through Sunday, if necessary) is as follows: No. 9 Bowling Green (13-18-5) at No. 8 Lake Superior State (16-19-1), No. 10 Northern Michigan (15-17-4) at No. 7 Michigan (13-18-3), and No. 11 Michigan State (11-22-3) at No. 6 Alaska (16-14-4).
In the second round, No. 4 Ohio State (14-15-7) will host No. 5 Ferris State (15-14-5). No. 2 Notre Dame (21-12-3) and No. 3 Western Michigan (19-9-8) will be at home against the second- and third-lowest remaining seeds, respectively.
Of the six CCHA teams that have to play this weekend, Michigan seems to be the one to watch because of its explosiveness. Only Notre Dame has scored more goals than the Wolverines this year.
“I don’t think they’re a sleeper anymore,” Blasi said of Michigan. “I consider them a favorite now because they’re at home and they seem to have gotten all their injuries back and they’re starting to click on all cylinders.”
Miami has won the conference tournament just once (2010-11) before, but Blasi likes the third-ranked RedHawks’ mind-set. They’ve won 10 of their last 13 games.