Thursday, April 2nd, 2009
By Gary R. Rasberry
Celina's Reichard helping the RedHawks march toward history
A year ago, Cody Reichard was preparing to get away from the frozen north of Alaska.
A week from now, he'll be playing in the Frozen Four.
The Celina native and Miami University freshman is a key component in helping the RedHawks advance to their first-ever NCAA Division I National Hockey Semifinals, known as the Frozen Four. It's also the first time that a Miami team has made the national semifinals in any sport.
"Words can't really describe it," said Reichard via telephone on Monday. "It was one of our goals all year to make the Frozen Four. Obviously, it's not our ultimate goal, we have two games left to go to get there. It was unreal. I really can't describe it."
The West Regional Champion RedHawks (22-12-5), who went from 13th to fourth in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine's national poll will travel to the Verizon Center in Washington, DC., next Thursday to face Midwest Regional Champ Bemidji State of Minnesota at 5 p.m. The semifinals will air on ESPN2 with the national championship game taking place on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Beavers (20-15-4) are the lowest seed (16th in the 16-team tournament) to advance to the Frozen Four.
Reichard, a goaltender, got both wins and allowed just three goals as the RedHawks upset seven-time national champion Denver and Minnesota-Duluth in the West Regional in Minneapolis.
After playing for the Fairbanks IceDogs of the North American Hockey League last year, and earning the NAHL Player of the Year, Reichard came back to his home state to play in Oxford for the nationally-ranked RedHawks.
For most of the year, Reichard was platooned with another freshman Connor Knapp, who was named to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's All-Rookie Team.
Reichard heads to Washington with a 9-7-2 record with a goals-against average of 2.09 and two shutouts on the season.
"It's been a great year," said Reichard. "School's been good. Everything's been awesome. We've got a great group of guys here at Miami. The group of seniors have been through a lot. It's truly been something special."
The RedHawks lost in the second round of the CCHA Tournament Series two games to one to Northern Michigan, but was selected for the NCAA tournament as the fourth-seed in the West.
Reichard got the call in goal for the Friday matchup with top-seed Denver, stopping 16 of 18 shots as the RedHawks beat the Pioneers 4-2 to advance to the championship game against Minnesota-Duluth.
Instead of rotating with Knapp for Saturday, Miami coach Enrico Blasi went with Reichard again.
"Me and Connor have been rotating all season long," said Reichard. "I've been playing Fridays and he's been playing Saturdays. I got the first game in the tournament. Fortunately things went well. The guys played well for me. Coach just decided to stick with me again and it just worked out."
This time, Reichard made 25 saves as the RedHawks downed the Bulldogs 2-1, with Duluth scoring with under two minutes to go in the match.
"It's a dream come true to play in the Frozen Four," said Reichard. "I remember watching it last year on TV and wanting to be there. Now that we're going to be there, it seems unreal, almost."
Now Miami will spend the off-week getting ready for Bemidji State, which had won five NCAA Division II national titles before moving up to Division I.
"Bemidji is a good team. They knocked off Notre Dame (in the Midwest semis), one of the best teams in the country (the Irish finished 31-6-3 overall)," said Reichard. "They have a lot of respect from us."
The long break - 12 days between games - doesn't seem to bother Reichard. There was a 12-day break between the CCHA tournament and the Denver game.
"We've had quite a few breaks during the year," said Reichard. "We're just taking the time to recuperate, especially from the travel, ... and to catch up on our school work before we leave again."
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