Category Archives: preview

Preview: Miami at Colorado College

Colorado College and Miami have been the two least successful teams since the formation of the NCHC, but both are on upswings and could challenge for NCAA berths next spring as well as make runs at all-important home-ice seeds for the first round of the conference tournament.

The Tigers were 4-1-1 before their brutal start to the league schedule, as they dropped their first four NCHC games against St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth and are still looking for their first league win of 2018-19.

Meanwhile, Miami split both of its opening series in conference play and are looking to make an early move in the ultra-competitive NCHC.

BoB takes a look at the upcoming series between these teams:

WHO: No. 20 Miami RedHawks (8-4) at Colorado College Tigers (4-5-1).

WHERE: World Arena (7,380), Colorado Springs, Colo.

WHEN: Friday – 10:07 p.m.; Saturday – 8:07 p.m.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 9-7-2.

LAST SEASON HEAD-TO-HEAD: Colorado College, 2-1-1. Nov. 3 – Miami, 3-2, OT; Nov. 4 – Colorado College, 2-1; Jan. 26 – Colorado College, 6-3; Jan. 27 – Tie, 4-4.

COLORADO COLLEGE RADIO: Both nights – KRDO-FM (105.5 and 92.5) and KRDO-AM (1240), Colorado Springs, Colo.

MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.

TELEVISION: Friday – AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain (DirecTV Ch. 683, Dish Network Ch. 414).

NOTES: Colorado College opened NCHC play by facing the top two teams in Division I the past two weekends — St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth — and were outscored, 15-5 in four losses.

The Tigers have been well balanced in their scoring early this season, with eight skaters averaging at least half a point per game.

Ten forwards have recorded at least four points for Colorado College, with Nick Halloran and Trey Bradley tied for the team lead at nine.

Alex Berardinelli is tops in Tigers goals with five, including two shorthanded, and Westin Michaud has scored four times and added three assists.

Grant Cruikshank (2-4-6), Mason Bergh (0-5-5) and Chris Wilkie (3-2-5) round out Colorado College’s scoring leaders, although Wilkie has missed the last four games.

Freshman Bryan Yoon leads the team in defenseman points with five, including one goal, and Kristian Blumenschein has four assists.

Andrew Farny, Ben Israel, Zach Berzolla and Alex Pernitsky have been the other regulars on the blueline.

Alex Leclerc has logged nine games in net and will likely start both games this weekend. He has a 2.62 goals-against average and .916 save percentage.

Amazingly, the Tigers have had 51 power play chances compared to 29 for their opponents and have scored 10 times on the man advantage as well as three shorthanded goals.

But Colorado College is just 72.4 percent on the penalty kill and has surrendered a pair of shorties.

Miami’s Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Gordie Green has led the RedHawks by tallying 10 points in his last seven games, including five goals, and Josh Melnick has notched nine points in six games. Casey Gilling is 1-4-5 in his last five.

Miami is 7-for-26 (.269) on the power play the last seven games.

Two trends MU would like to reverse: The RedHawks have been outshot by an average of 14 SOG the last three games and have given up five third-period goals in that span.

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Preview: North Dakota at Miami

We’re just a handful of days into November, but there is always a playoff feel to the rink whenever North Dakota comes to town.

Especially with both teams ranked and Miami off to a 7-3 start.

The Fighting Hawks began the season 0-2-1 but have won four straight as they open their NCHC season.

BoB takes a look at the series between NorDak and the RedHawks this weekend.

WHO: No. 11 North Dakota Fighting Hawks (4-2-1) at No. 19 Miami RedHawks (7-3).

WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio (3,642).

WHEN: Friday – 7:35 p.m.; Saturday – 7:05 p.m.

ALL-TIME SERIES: North Dakota leads, 13-6-3.

LAST SEASON HEAD-TO-HEAD: Teams both finished 1-1-2. Nov. 10 – North Dakota, 4-1; Nov. 11 – Tie, 3-3; Feb. 23 – Miami, 4-3, OT; Feb. 24 – Tie, 2-2.

NORTH DAKOTA RADIO: Both nights – KQHT-FM (96.1), Grand Forks, N.D.

MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.

NOTES: North Dakota was winless through three games, going 0-1-1 in a home-and-home vs. Bemidji State and losing, 7-4 at home to Minnesota State.

But the rejuvenated Fighting Hawks have won their last four, all against ranked non-conference opponents.

Up front, Nick Jones leads UND in points with six, five of which have come on assists. He has scored three goals in five career games vs. Miami.

Jordan Kawaguchi is second among forwards with five points, all on helpers.

Grant Mismash and Rhett Gardner are both 3-1-4, and Gardner has scored four goals and added two assists against the RedHawks.

Forwards Cole Smith and Collin Adams also have four points.

On defense, Colton Poolman is tied for the team lead with three goals, also earning two assists.

UND has had heavy production from its blue line, as Gabe Bast and Jacob Bernard-Docker are both 2-2-4, Hayden Shaw has four assists and Matt Kiersted has a goal and two helpers.

Peter Thome had a strong 12-game showing in net as a rookie last season, but after a poor game early freshman Adam Scheel has gone 4-1-1 with a 1.58 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.

Scheel has keyed the Fighting Sioux’s four-game winning streak, so barring sub-par performance he should play both nights.

UND is third in the NCAA in faceoff percentage at 59.0, with Gardner leading college hockey at 66.2 percent.

This has been a Miami weakness in recent seasons but the RedHawks are tied for 16th in Division I this season with a winning percentage of 53.8.

North Dakota leads the conference in NHL draftees with eight.

Miami’s Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Special teams have been a struggled for the Fighting Hawks, who are 47th in the NCAA in power play percentage (14.3) and tied for 12th-last at 75.0 on the penalty kill.

Miami’s Gordie Green enters this weekend having scored in four straight games with five tallies in that span. His points streak is at five games, and he has 10 points during that streak.

The RedHawks went four straight games without a power play goal earlier this season but have netted at least one marker on the man advantage in five consecutive contests.

Miami is 1-1 in the NCHC, and these will be the first conference contests for North Dakota.

Preview: Miami at Nebraska-Omaha

How appropriate is it that Miami faces Nebraska-Omaha to commence league play?

Miami associate head coach Peter Mannino (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Six teams begin their in-conference schedules this weekend, and the RedHawks open their NCHC slate against the Mavericks after landing associate head coach Peter Mannino and multiple commits from UNO last off-season.

BoB takes a look at this weekend’s series between Miami and the Mavericks.

WHO: Miami RedHawks (6-2) at Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (0-5-1).

WHERE: Baxter Arena, Omaha, Nebraska (7,898).

WHEN: Friday – 8:07 p.m.; Saturday – 8:07 p.m.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 20-17-6.

LAST SEASON HEAD-TO-HEAD: UNO, 2-0-0. Jan. 12 – UNO, 11-7. Jan. 13 – UNO, 4-3.

UNO RADIO: Both nights – KZOT-AM (1180), Bellevue, Neb.

MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.

NOTES: Though the teams had identical 10-13-1 conference records last season and UNO finished just two games better than Miami, with Mannino behind the RedHawks’ bench his new team is 6-2 and earned the No. 20 spot in this week’s USCHO poll.

Miami’s Derek Daschke (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Without Mannino and his commits – including defensemen and MU starters Derek Daschke and Bray Crowder – UNO is 0-5-1, losing five straight after an opening-night tie at Union.

The acquisition of those now-Miami blueliners is especially noteworthy because the Mavericks have hemorrhaged in the goals against department this season. UNO has allowed 33 goals, including 11 on the power play and three shorthanded in just six games.

Opponents are averaging 37 shots and scoring on 15 percent of them.

The Mavericks have played all three goalies on their roster, and they have a collective 5.42 goals-against average and .851 save percentage.

Evan Weninger has started five games and has a GAA of 5.01 and team-best save percentage of .872. He stopped 74 shots in last weekends losses at Arizona State but surrendered 12 goals, getting the hook after letting seven in Friday.

Alex Blankenburg and Matej Tomek both have save percentages well below .800 in limited action.

Dean Stewart is the lone Maverick defenseman to find the net this season, as he has scored twice and earned three more assists.

The rest of UNO’s blueline corps has combined for just five points, all on assists, led by Ryan Jones’ two. Stewart, Jones, Lukas Buchta and Jalen Schulz are all returning regulars, having logged at least 30 games for Nebraska-Omaha last season.

Up front, Fredrik Olofsson leads the team in assists (6) and points (7). Zach Jordan – a 16-goal scorer in 2017-18 – and Mason Morelli are tied for the team lead with three goals and are second and third in points, respectively.

Tristan Keck and Teemu Pulkkinen have identical 1-2-3 lines.

Four of the Mavericks’ top five points producers from last season graduated, and freshman and sophomores have a combined three goals and five assists in 2018-19, so UNO needs to hit the recruiting trail hard in the coming months.

By comparison, Miami has generated 21 points from its first-year skater class.

Miami’s Phil Knies (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Last season, these teams met for one series, which was played at Omaha, and the RedHawks allowed 15 goals in the two-game sweep.

While Phil Knies did score four times that weekend, Miami would like to see a better defensive effort at Baxter Arena this season.

A couple of online sites list this game as being televised on one of the FOX Sports regional channels, but it’s not showing up on the DirecTV schedule.

If it does pop up we’ll send an update on Twitter.

Preview: Colgate at Miami

WHO: Colgate Raiders (2-1) at Miami RedHawks (4-2).

WHEN: Friday – 7:35 p.m.; Saturday – 5 p.m.

WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 4-2.

COLGATE RADIO: Both nights – WKXZ-FM (93.9), Hamilton, N.Y.

NOTES: After this weekend, Miami will have faced off against two of the most tenured coaches in Division I.

Don Vaughn is in his 26th season at Colgate’s helm, and last season he became the 24th coach in NCAA hockey history to win 400 games.

Rick Gotkin is in season 31 behind the bench for Mercyhurst.

Colgate’s apex in recent history was the middle part of this decade, when the Raiders ran off 20-plus wins in 2013-14 and 2014-15, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament in 2014.

But each of past three seasons, Colgate has failed to finish above .500 or advance past the quarterfinal round of the ECAC Tournament.

The Raiders won their first two games of 2018-19 – home victories over New Hampshire – by identical 2-1 scores.

Colgate struggled in its lone road contest vs. RIT last weekend, falling 6-1.

Forwards Bobby McMann, Tyler Jeanson and Adam Dauda all have a goal and an assist to tie for the team lead at two points. McMann and Dauda were 1-2 in scoring for the Raiders last season with 30 and 19 points, respectively.

Jared Cockrell and Tyler Penner have both found the net for Colgate among the forward corps.

The Raiders are hoping for more output from this group, as the team has scored just five times or 1.67 goals per contest, and the defensemen have contributed just three points, all on assists.

Defenseman Jacob Panetta has a pair of assists and Trevor Cosgrove has picked up one helper. Cosgrove finished with five goals and 12 assists in 2017-18.

Nick Austin led Colgate in defenseman points with 18 last season but he has not played in any of the first three games.

Goalie Mitch Benson has started all three games for the Raiders, but he was pulled after allowing five goals on 19 shots last week vs. RIT.

Despite being pulled after two periods in that outing, he is 2-1 with a 2.63 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.

All three Colgate netminders are freshmen.

Andrew Farrier stopped turned aside six shots and allowed one goal in relief of Benson last weekend in his collegiate debut. Will Friend is the third goalie for the Raiders.

The RedHawks have struggled offensively as well, as they have scored just five times in their last four games.

Miami is ranked No. 46 on the power play at 9.7 percent but sixth on the penalty kill (90.5 percent).

These teams last met at Cady Arena in 2012, a series in which the RedHawks outscored Colgate, 8-1 in a weekend sweep.

Preview: UMass-Lowell at Miami

WHO: UMass-Lowell Riverhawks (1-1) at Miami RedHawks (3-1).

WHEN: Friday – 7:35 p.m.; Saturday – 7:05 p.m.

WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.

ALL-TIME SERIES: UMass-Lowell leads, 1-0-1.

UMASS-LOWELL RADIO: Both nights – WCAP-AM (980), Lowell, Mass.

NOTES: Funny that this will be the first-ever meeting between these teams on one of their campuses.

They’ve met twice: Once in the Frontier Classic in Anchorage in the fall of 2003, a game that ended tied, 4-4, and again in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

The latter was a skate-to-the-throat 4-3 overtime loss that saw the RedHawks rally from three down to tie it only to surrender a goal in the extra session.

So in two all-time meetings, both games have gone past 60 minutes.

Miami might welcome a close contest, as each of its four games this season have been decided by three or four goals.

The RedHawks are coming off a third-place finish in the four-team Ice Breaker in Erie, Pa., that saw them drop a 4-0 decision to No. 5 Providence but handle host Mercyhurst, 3-0 in the consolation game.

The week before Miami swept an unimpressive Alabama-Huntsville team, outscoring the Chargers, 9-1.

The Riverhawks split their season-opening series vs. RIT, with both of those games decided by a goal. They won the opener, 2-1 but lost 4-3 in the finale.

Senior forwards Ryan Dmowski and Connor Wilson both went 1-2-3 the opening weekend and lead the team in points. Dmowski went 11-11-22 in 2017-18, leading the team in goals.

Kenny Hausinger scored twice vs. RIT. He scored 10 goals and set up 10 more last season.

Tampa Bay selection Ryan Lohin is the returning team leader in assists (16) and points (25), and freshmen Sam Knoblauch and Reid Stefanson have both scored in the team’s first two games.

Mass.-Lowell had three defensemen total at least 17 points last season but all were seniors. Croix Evingson and freshman Seth Barton have dished for two assists each, and Mattias Goransson has one helper.

Evingson was drafted by Winnipeg and Barton was taken by Detroit.

In net, Christoffer Hernberg was a stud last year with a 2.07 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. Ty Wall struggled in 12 games as his backup.

But last weekend Wall – a New York Rangers draftee – was 25-for-26 in a win while Hernberg suffered the loss, allowing five goals on 30 shots.

Preview: Alabama-Huntsville

WHO: Alabama-Huntsville Chargers (12-23-2) at Miami RedHawks (12-20-5).

WHEN: Saturday – 7 p.m.; Sunday – 3 p.m.

WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 8-1.

NOTES: Miami typically hosts a CIS (Canadian collegiate) team in an exhibition to open competitive play, but the RedHawks have no such luxury this season, heading straight into regular season action without a tune-up opportunity.

The last time these teams faced was in February 2012, when Miami swept UAH at Cady Arena. In 2010 these teams met in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and the RedHawks prevailed, 2-1.

Alabama-Huntsville lost its only two 20-point producers from last season, and Christian Rajic is the Chargers’ leading veteran forward with 15 points, nine of which came on goals.

A pair of small forwards – Hans Gorowsky and Madison Dunn – netted five goals each and finished with double-digit points totals.

Kurt Gosselin leads the blueline after scoring five times – three of which came on the power play – and notching 11 assists. John Teets and Cam Knight also return for their senior seasons after combining for 20 points in 2017-18.

These teams have not met in six years and Miami is 2-0 vs. UAH at Cady Arena.

2018-19 Miami preview Part I: Overview

Since 2014-15, Miami has won just 36 games, its lowest three-season total since 1989-92.

As a result, the RedHawks parted ways with two assistants and 11 players this off-season and they hope the influx of new talent – both on the ice and the bench – will vault them to more victories.

Coach Enrico Blasi (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

With all of the moving parts within the program, game-action anticipation has never been greater. Fortunately for the RedHawks, opening night is Saturday vs. Alabama-Huntsville.

“I think you’re always excited to start a new season,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “But I think with the last five months the way they played out, just focusing on games and getting better as a team and moving forward, I think everyone’s excited, I’m excited, we’re ready to go.”

Peter Mannino was hired as associate head coach at the end of March, and Joel Beal was named assistant in June.

Mannino, a former NHL goalie and NCAA Tournament champ with Denver, was an assistant at in-conference rival Nebraska-Omaha last season after winning a Clark Cup as the assistant of the USHL’s Chicago Steel.

Beal was an assistant at Sacred Heart the past five seasons and an associate head coach since 2016, and on the ice he starred at Union in the early 2000s.

“Peter is very outgoing, energetic, very positive, kind of throws a lot of things at you and makes you think about 10, 15 things at once, and Bealer is very systematic, very cerebral, thinks about things, makes sure that we’re not missing anything,” Blasi said. “Both are very positive – Bealer’s a very positive guy – both are hardworking guys, trustworthy guys you can count on. That’s what you want in a staff and that’s what you want out there recruiting for your program. The dynamics of the three of us – we all bring something different to the table and yet…we mesh together. With both of them, my conversations were very similar in the fact that I felt like we could connect right away and build from there. And I think we see the game the same way, I think we see the type of team we want to be, where the game is going, the way we want to develop our players and inspire our players and the process in which to do it. Those are all things that will continue to grow as we go through the days, and the games, and the practices, but we get along really well.”

Melnick

Miami’s Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Senior co-captain Josh Melnick said the energy the duo has brought to the program has been contagious.

“They’re obviously two younger guys and they bring sort of a different perspective to the locker room,” Melnick said. “As a whole, they’ve settled in really well, and I think they’re getting a good feeling of what our program’s about and also helping re-establish the things that we want to work on to get the program back to where it was in the past.”

Miami’s roster, which was not completed until late July, features five new forwards, four on defense and two in net. Two of the 11 are graduate students completing their fourth years of hockey eligibility.

“I think we’ve brought in some guys that will know their role – they were recruited to it,” Blasi said. “I think they’re a little bit older, we’ve got some Clark Cup championship-caliber players who have been through it, understand how to win a championship, guys that have been captains on their teams, and we have one (Jonathan Gruden) that played on the U.S. Development Team, played in the Worlds, and played with (the forward) that’s probably going to be the first overall pick in this (2019’s) NHL draft (Jack Hughes) and played on the same line with him. These are all positive things, and then you add two postgrads to the new faces, and we’ve got guys that are real positive and a tight freshman group.”

Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Both Melnick and defenseman fellow co-captain Grant Hutton love what they’ve seen from the newest Hawks.

“I think it’s everything we’ve expected and more,” Hutton said. “A lot of these guys are a lot of key, role players that know they’re here for a reason. You see it a lot in college hockey where guys may be goal scorers or big points guys in juniors or whatever it may be, and they get to college and they’re kind of shell-shocked. Gruden is our only true freshman at 18 years old and a lot of older guys that are coming in are mature, and I think that’s the biggest thing. Usually you talk about college hockey being a place where players have the opportunity to mature and develop, but it’s a huge plus when you get players that come in and have some of that maturity, some of that development. We’re pretty lucky with the group we have coming in, and I think it adds more excitement.”

Said Melnick: “They all assimilated right into things quickly – they’re all great people off the ice, and I think a lot of the reason we have high energy is because those guys have a lot of energy. They came here ready to work, and they know what the program stands for and what it’s been like in the past, and they’re ready to help get it back to that point.”

During the summer before the new players arrived, the returning players reached out to the freshman class to welcome them to the program, Melnick said.

The off-season didn’t start well for Miami. Within days of the RedHawks’ final game, it was announced that assistant coaches Brent Brekke and Nick Petraglia would not return as well as four players.

Two other prominent forwards also left the team early in the off-season, with one turning pro and the other transferring.

That’s on top of Miami not qualifying for the NCAA Tournament or even making it out of the NCHC quarterfinal round for the third straight season after qualifying for 10 of the previous 12 national championships.

“This is something that, I don’t look at this as a job, this is my life,” Blasi said. “When your life isn’t going the way you think it should go in terms of guys not playing up to their capabilities or even some of the things I might’ve done in the last couple of years that were wrong decisions. You assess, you evaluate, you try to be better – we all have opportunities to be better every day, we’re no different and I’m no different – and if I told you I wasn’t frustrated or disappointed in certain occasions, I’d be lying to you. But I can also tell you that I’m very proud of some of the things that have happened in the past couple of years. I believe in my heart that these are necessary steps that need to happen to move forward and become better. When we built the program, we went through some tough times, but nobody talks about those because nobody remembers those, everybody just remembers the wins and the Frozen Fours and the championships. I can tell you there were times where we had the same frustrations, the same disappointments, but they were necessary disappointments and necessary things that we needed to get through to get to the next level, and that’s what we’re going to do right now.”

Some positive things happened this off-season well. Multiple prior Omaha recruits switched to Miami following Mannino’s hiring, including defenseman Derek Daschke.

“Obviously at first it was a little difficult with having to (deal with) some difficult situations, to be honest with you,” Blasi said. “Once we started to kind of shape our team around the guys we have coming back, finishing off the recruiting and finishing off the staff, and getting together as a staff and kind of formulating our plan and getting to know each other on a different level, and then obviously have our team come back and work with them and kind of creating their identity. It’s been a lot of fun. ‘Reenergize’ is a work that we’ve been using a lot lately.”

Miami’s Ryan Siroky (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

And both Melnick and Hutton, both seniors and destined for lucrative professional careers, announced they were returning this fall.

“I give Hudson, Melly a lot of credit, them and the senior class – Lavs (Zach Lavalle) and (Ryan) Siroky – that helped shaped the spring and the summer to make sure when these new guys came in, that our program was in a good place and we were going to hit the ground running.”

Miami played some quality hockey down the stretch last season, and Blasi said his team will seize that momentum and carry it into this campaign.

“Those are some of the things we were really proud of,” Blasi said. “To stick with it and to keep fighting, that’s a character trait that you can’t teach. And that’s something that’s in our locker room, that’s something that’s in our culture. I was very, very proud of the team and the way they played. Now, do we want to win at the end? Of course. Everybody does. But at the same time, you have to take a step back and assess the situation, and I believe that how we played was really important for the guys coming back in the spring and the summer and for our recruits, to say hey, we’re not that far off. We just need to maybe work a little harder, improve one or two percent. If everybody can do that, then we have something. When you’re in the moment, it doesn’t seem like it, and I know it probably doesn’t seem like it to the general fan – and we have great fans and great supporters, some of which have expressed their support and some of them haven’t, and that’s OK too – but when you take a step back and you see all the developments that have happened over the past couple of years, I think you’ll look back and say, hey, maybe if we didn’t go through that we don’t get to that next level.”

He pointed out that Miami was ranked as high as No. 14 in the PairWise after its big January home win over powerhouse Denver.

“It just shows that we have a group that isn’t rolling over, we’re not going to quit,” Hutton said. “We’re here because we want to be here, we’re here because we love each other, we love Miami, and we want to be the best possible hockey team that we can be every single night and ultimately reach our goal of bringing a championship back to Oxford.”

Blasi said that he, as well as both assistants, have been actively involved in recruiting this off-season and has hit the road with one or both on several occasions as Miami tries to fortify its roster for the coming years.

“I think the culture of the program is still very strong in terms of what we believe in and the way we do our business from day to day,” Blasi said. “We may tweak some things here and there but I think The Brotherhood and the family and the relationships and the process is still something that we still focus on, it’s still all about developing these young men to play at the next level or develop them to be better people on a day-to-day perspective. But at the end of the day, recruiting is your bloodline – that’s never going to change – and so recruiting is very important, and our team is very important. We have to make sure we’re focused on both equally and we’re doing what we need to do to help these men that we have get to the next level and win games and play at a high level, maybe reach levels that they thought they couldn’t reach. That’s part of what we do as coaches is inspire them and push them in a good way to make them play better than even they think they can.”

Though the season doesn’t start until Saturday, Melnick he noticed a marked difference in the locker room already.

“A lot of the times when people ask what’s most exciting about this year and what’s different, I think it’s the energy, and it’s just coming from everyone,” Melnick said. “It’s honestly kind of crazy to be around, because everybody’s so positive and confident and we just can’t wait to get out there.”

Check back for a positional breakdown of the RedHawks.

NCHC preview: North Dakota

For the first time since 2001-02, North Dakota failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Coach Brad Berry won the national championship in his first season with the Fighting Hawks in 2015-2016, but the team won just 21 games the following campaign – its worst total in 15 years – and posted just 17 victories last season.

Four NHL draftees join the Fighting Hawks, who enter 2018-19 trying not to become the first UND squad since 1996 to miss to national championship tournament back-to-back years.

NORTH DAKOTA FIGHTING HAWKS

NCAA titles: 8 (1959, 1963, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1997, 2000, 2016).

COACH: Brad Berry (4th season, 72-35-17, .649 winning percentage).

2017-18 RECORDS: 17-13-10 (8-10-6 in NCHC).

POSTSEASON: Lost to St. Cloud State in an NCHC Tournament semifinal.

RINK (capacity): Ralph Engelstad Arena (11,634).

MIAMI VS. NORTH DAKOTA LAST SEASON: 1-1-2.

ALL-TIME SERIES: North Dakota leads, 13-6-3.

2018-19 SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Nov. 9-10 – at Miami.

KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: G Peter Thome, D Colton Poolman, F Grant Mismash, F Rhett Gardner, F Nick Jones.

KEY NEW FACES: F Gavin Hain, F Jasper Weathersby, F/D Jonny Tychonick, D Jacob Bernard-Docker, G Adam Scheel.

KEY LOSSES: G Cam Johnson, D Christian Wolanin, F Shane Gersich, F Austin Poganski.

NOTES: North Dakota averaged fewer than three goals per game for the first time in the NCHC era, as the Fighting Hawks ended the season fifth in the league in scoring, their lowest finish since the conference’s inception.

And three of UND’s top three four goal producers from 2017-18 have joined the pro ranks.

Fortunately for the Fighting Hawks, leading sniper Nick Jones is back after the Ohio State transfer led the team with 15 markers and ranked second on the team in points with 30.

Nashville second-round pick Grant Mismash returns after posting nine goals and 13 assists as a freshman, and he is expected to take a major step up this season.

North Dakota’s other returning 20 point-producing forward is Rhett Gardner, who went 7-13-20.

Three other Fighting Hawks reached double figures in points – Jordan Kawaguchi, Joel Janatuinen and Cole Smith.

Islanders draft pick Collin Adams was limited to 26 games in 2017-18 but scored five goals and could make a significant leap.

NHL draftee forwards USNDT product Gavin Hain and 6-feet-3 Jasper Weathersby enter their freshman seasons.

On defense, captain Colton Poolman scored seven times and picked up 22 assists last season while being whistled for just four penalties.

UND’s blueline is deep – five other defenseman logged at least 25 games last season.

Hayden Shaw dressed for all 40, going 3-10-13 and Gabe Bast tallied 10 assists in just 27 games. Matt Kiersted, Casey Johnson and Andrew Peski all played in the majority of the Fighting Hawks’ contests.

And North Dakota added the Ottawa Senators’ first- and second-round picks from 2018 in Jacob Bernard-Docker and Jonny Tychonick. The Alberta-raised tandem has played together since age 10.

Columbus draft pick Peter Thome posted a 2.14 goals-against average and .910 save percentage – showing how strong UND’s defense was last season – and he remains the favorite to start the majority of games this season after playing in 29 as a freshman.

Freshman Adam Scheel should be Thome’s primary backup after a strong showing in the BCHL in 2017-18.

North Dakota set a program record with 10 ties last season, which is part of the reason the team struggled to reach 20 wins. Eleven more of its contests were decided by one goal.

Despite the Fighting Hawks’ downturn the past two seasons, in May coach Brad Berry signed a five-year deal that will run through 2022-23.

NOTE: BoB is previewing each NCHC team leading into the 2018-19 season. This is the fifth of seven installments.

Here are the links for the other snapshots:

Colorado College
Denver
Minnesota-Duluth
Nebraska-Omaha

NCHC preview: Nebraska-Omaha

Last season, Mike Gabinet inherited a team that had gone .500 the previous season and a game over that mark in 2015-16.

Despite the coaching change, Nebraska-Omaha proved itself the master of consistent mediocrity, finishing 17-17-2 in 2017-18.

It’s been a tough follow-up to the Mavericks’ first-ever NCAA semifinal round berth in 2015, as none of their subsequent seasons have produced return trips onto college hockey’s highest stage.

The loss of assistant coach Peter Mannino to in-conference rival Miami, as well as the resulting departure of multiple recruits to the RedHawks this off-season will not make it any easier for UNO to qualify for the NCAAs in 2018-19.

NEBRASKA-OMAHA MAVERICKS

NCAA titles: 0.

COACH: Mike Gabinet (17-17-2 in 1 season).

2017-18 RECORDS: 17-17-2 overall, 10-13-1 in the NCHC (6th place).

POSTSEASON: Lost to North Dakota in NCHC semifinal round.

RINK (capacity): Baxter Arena (7,898).

MIAMI VS. UNO LAST SEASON: 0-2.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 20-17-6.

2018-19 SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Nov. 2-3 – at UNO; Feb. 8-9 – at Miami.

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: G Evan Weninger, F Zach Jordan, F Tristan Keck, F Steven Spinner, F Fredrik Olofsson, D Ryan Jones.

KEY LOSSES: F David Pope, F Tyler Vesel, F Jake Randolph, D Joel Messner.

KEY NEW FACES: F Tyler Weiss, F Chayse Primeau, F Taylor Ward, D John Schuldt.

NOTES: In addition to losing Mannino and two top-tier recruits, Nebraska-Omaha graduated four of its top five points producers from 2017-18.

Forward Zach Jordan is the team’s top returning points producer, as he posted 28 points including 16 goals last season.

Also up front, Tristan Keck, Fredrik Olofsson and Steven Spinner reached the 20-point mark in 2017-18.

Teemu Pulkinen netted eight goals and Mason Morelli dished for 10 assists.

The Mavericks expect 150-pounder Tyler Weiss to contribute immediately, as he is a USNDT product and Colorado Avalanche draftee. Same goes for 6-feet-3 Chayse Primeau, whose father Keith played in the NHL.

No returning UNO defenseman tallied more than two goals last season, and Ryan Jones is the Mavericks’ top returning points-getting among blueliners with 13.

D-man Lukas Buchta, Jalen Schulz and Dean Stewart are also back after turning in solid seasons for UNO in 2017-18.

Freshmen John Schuldt and Jason Smallidge look to make an immediate impact on the Mavericks’ blueline, but key defense commit Derek Dashcke bolted for Miami.

Goalie Evan Weninger is back after logging over 80 percent of UNO’s minutes between the pipes. His numbers weren’t great – his save percentage was .899 and goals-against 3.35 – and Philadelphia Flyers draftee and North Dakota transfer Matej Tomek could eat into Weninger’s ice time.

UNO needs serious improvement on the back end – the team was dead last in Division I in goals against per game and 49th on the penalty kill in 2017-18.

Conversely, the Mavericks finished seventh in goal average and were seventh on the power play.

Nebraska-Omaha’s tendency toward high-scoring affairs was exemplified by its series sweep vs. the RedHawks in Omaha that saw 25 goals including an 11-7 weekend opener.

That set extended UNO’s unbeaten streak vs. Miami to six games, as the Mavericks are 5-0-1 against the RedHawks the past two seasons.

NOTE: BoB is previewing each NCHC team leading into the 2018-19 season. This is the fourth of seven installments.

Here are the links for the other snapshots:

Colorado College
Denver
Minnesota-Duluth

Preview: First meeting for UConn, MU

WHO: Connecticut Huskies (2-3-1) at Miami RedHawks (1-3).

WHEN: Friday, 7:35 p.m.; Saturday–7 p.m.

WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.

TV: None.

NOTES: Strange that a pair of Division I teams in a tier of 60 have never met, but Friday will represent the inaugural contest between UConn and Miami.

The Huskies went Division I in 1998-99 and won 20 games that season, but they have not reached that high-water mark since. They have also never advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Current coach Mike Cavanaugh took over prior to 2013-14 – UConn’s final season in the Atlantic Hockey before joining Hockey East – and after an 18-14-4 debut, his teams have not posted a winning record since.

Like Miami, the Huskies split with Maine. After that season-opening series, they beat American International and lost to Sacred Heart then went 0-1-1 in a home-and-home with Boston University.

Connecticut has had no problem generating offense, averaging 3.3 goals and 35.3 shots per game.

F Alexandre Payusov was limited to two points in 15 games as a freshman, but he is 6-2-8 in six games to start 2017-18, leading all UConn forwards in goals and points.

Like Payusov, Karl El-Mir is from Montreal, and he has a pair of goals and four assists. Maxim Letunov, a second-round pick of San Jose, also has six points (1-5-6) and Kasperi Ojantakanen and Spencer Naas have recorded four points.

At defense, Johnny Austin has one goal and team highs in assists (8) and points (9) – his point total is tied for second among D-I blueliners – although the senior’s career high at UConn is 10 points last season.

Derek Pratt has a goal and three assists, and four NHL draftees – Miles Gendron (Ottawa), Philip Nyberg (Buffalo), Joseph Masonius (Pittsburgh) and David Drake (Philadelphia) also patrol the blue line for the Huskies.

The Huskies are outshooting opponents by nearly five shots per game, yet they have a goal differential of zero.

Which means UConn is not stopping the puck at a high enough clip. Starting goalie Adam Huska, a seventh-round New York Rangers pick in 2015, has a .905 save percentage and a 2.95 goals-against average.

Backup Tanner Creel was solid two years ago in relief but started against America International and allowed three goals on seven shots.

Like Miami, UConn is executing at a 33.3 percent rate on the power play, tied for fifth in the NCAA, but the Huskies are tied for 42nd with just a .722 penalty killing clip.

Connecticut has outscored its opponents in the final two periods but has struggled early, as it has netted just three goals while allowing 10 in the opening 20 minutes.

This series begins a crucial four-game homestand for Miami. These are extremely winnable games for the RedHawks, as are next week’s tilts against Colorado College.

If Miami is unable to thrive against these opponents, it could be a long season. UConn and CC were a combined 15 games under .500 in 2016-17.

The RedHawks are currently two games under .500, and the schedule gets a lot harder following these two series.