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WHO: Miami University RedHawks (0-2) at Maine Black Bears (1-1).
WHEN: Friday and Saturday–7 p.m.
WHERE: Harold Alfond Sports Arena, Orono, Maine.
NOTES: Maine visited Oxford last season, and the RedHawks went 1-0-1, tying the opener, 3-3 and winning the finale, 5-0.
A Division I force through the late 2000s, the Black Bears have won 20 games just one time in the past 10 seasons, and that 23-win season in 2011-12 represented Maine’s lone NCAA Tournament appearance in that span.
The past three seasons have been particularly brutal for the Black Bears, as they have failed to reach the .400 mark, averaging just 11 wins.
Amazingly, Maine didn’t win a single road game in all of 2016-17, salvaging just four ties including one at Miami.
The Black Bears lost their top two scorers from last season in Blaine Byron and Cam Brown. Nolan Vesey, a Toronto draft pick and brother of New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey, is the team’s top returning scorer with 13 goals and 10 assists for 23 points.
Sophomore Chase Pearson, a Detroit selection, finished 14-8-22 in 2016-17 and has a pair of assists already this season.
The Black Bears have two other drafted players – G Jeremy Swayman and F Patrick Shea. Swayman is a freshman who gave up four goals in a losing effort in his debut. Shea, a sophomore, has dressed for both games this campaign.
Cedric Lacroix, Peter Housakos and Mitchell Fossier are all back this season, and each found the net vs. Miami last year.
Miami was swept at home by Providence two weeks ago and beat the U.S. Under-18 team, 7-5 in Plymouth, Mich., last Friday.
The RedHawks are looking for their first non-exhibition win since Jan. 28, having gone 0-11-1 in their last 12 games.
D Grant Hutton is 1-1-2, found the net nine times in 2016-17 and scored twice in Miami’s exhibition and has to be considered a credible threat to score from the blue line, which should create more space for his linemates.
The Gordie Green-Josh Melnick chemistry last week vs. the USNDT was undeniable, as Green scored twice – both times set up by Melnick, including a spectacular kick-pass-for-breakaway goal, and Melnick finished with three helpers.
These types of long trips early in the season can help teams bond, and Miami will have played just one exhibition in 13 days entering this series, so the RedHawks have reason to come out strong.
Miami and Maine have only played eight times, with the Black Bears leading the all-time series, 5-2-1.
Carson Meyer recorded four assists in last season’s series, and Louie Belpedio netted a pair of goals.
WHO: Bowling Green Falcons (0-5-1) at Miami RedHawks (2-1-2).
WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.
WHEN: Friday–7:35 p.m. Saturday–7:05 p.m.
BOWLING GREEN RADIO: WBGU-FM (88.1), Bowling Green, Ohio.
TV: Friday–Fox College Sports alternate (DirecTV Ch. 608).
NOTES: What in the world is happening at Bowling Green?
The Falcons were ranked in the top 15 in USCHO’s preseason poll, and they were picked to win the WCHA, yet BGSU has yet to win a game and dropped its first two conference contests.
BoB has talked extensively about Miami’s ability to reload in net, a credit to the entire coaching staff’s ability to recruit at that position.
Bowling Green has gotten miserable goaltending, as the Falcons have allowed 29 goals in six games – the second-worst average in the NCAA – for a unbelievably poor team save percentage of .806. BGSU is only allowing 25.2 shots per game, so it’s hard to pin those numbers on the blueline (actually the Falcons have outshot their opponents thus far).
Chris Nell gave up eight goals in less than four periods vs. Ohio State last weekend, but he still has the best numbers on the team with a 3.79 goals-against average and .841 save percentage.
Freshman Ryan Bednard is a Florida draftee, but in his first outing, he surrendered four goals on nine shots in just over a period.
Defenseman Sean Walker leads the team in goals (3) and points (5), and forwards Matt Pohlkamp and Kevin Dufour have four points each. All three are seniors.
Mitchell McLain, Brett d’Andrea and Stephen Baylis have added three points each from the forward corps, and Pierre-Luc Mercier has 58 career points in 123 games.
Other than Walker, two Bowling Green defensemen have been drafted – Mark Friedman, who has scored one and picked up two assists, and Adam Smith, who has dressed for five games.
Special teams have been a disaster for the Falcons, who are tied for second-last in college hockey with a 66.7 penalty kill percentage and are 46th on the power play at 10.6 percent.
Miami is 11th on the man advantage at 21.4 percent and tied for tops in the NCAA with a 96.7 PK percentage.
If this series comes down to goalies, the RedHawks should have a definite advantage, as freshman Ryan Larkin is 13th in the NCAA in save percentage (.931) and 11th in GAA (1.75).
Miami enters play unbeaten in its last four (2-0-2) and owns a 1-0-2 home record.
The RedHawks are 18-1-1 against Bowling Green in these teams’ last 20 meetings, although the Falcons still hold a 59-49-8 advantage all-time.