WHO: No. 14 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (5-5-2) at Miami RedHawks (4-5-1).
WHEN: Friday, 7:37 p.m.; Saturday–7:07 p.m.
WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.
MINN-DULUTH RADIO: KDAL-AM (610) and KDAL-FM (103.9), Duluth, Minn.
NOTES: Miami has not fared well against UMD in recent years.
Two and a half years ago in Oxford, these teams played a remarkable series that saw both teams come away with a win.
That was the last victory for the RedHawks vs. the Bulldogs, who are 8-0-2 in these teams’ last 10 meetings.
Minnesota-Duluth has also ended Miami’s season in the first round of the NCHC Tournament each of the past two seasons in straight sets.
Games between these teams have been on the chippy side, including a decent skirmish a couple years ago that featured Chris Joyaux mixing it up after the final whistle.
The Bulldogs have been loaded the past couple of seasons, culminating in an NCAA title game berth this spring, and while they’re clearly rank-worthy again in 2017-18, they lost a couple of major cogs from that Division I runner-up team.
UMD lost eight skaters to graduation, and G Hunter Miska left after a 27-win freshman season.
Only 10 UMD skaters have dressed for all 12 games, and five of the team’s top scorers from last season are gone. The other two are well off their 2016-17 points pace.
Another Hunter – Hunter Shepard – has taken over the majority of minutes between the pipes, and he has a 2.70 goals-against average and .886 save percentage.
Just five forwards have played in every UMD contest, and no one has more than eight points. Dallas Stars first-round draft pick Riley Tufte leads the team with five goals, and he has three assists to tie for the team lead in points with eight.
Peter Kreiger is even with Tufte, tallying three goals and five assists.
Also up front, Nick Swaney has two goals and five assists, Parker Mackay is 2-4-6 and Avery Peterson has scored four goals in seven games.
Standout Karson Kuhlman has two goals and a pair of helpers after a 22-point junior campaign.
Scott Perunovich is 1-7-8 to lead the Bulldogs among defensemen, and third-round pick Mikey Anderson has three goals and four assists.
Also on the back end, Dylan Samberg and Nicky Wolff have been in the lineup for all 12 of UMD’s games.
Have to credit the Bulldogs for this: Seven of their top eight scorers are from Minnesota.
Anderson and Swaney have been battling injuries.
Minnesota-Duluth is tied for 52nd on the penalty kill at 74.5 percent, an area of weakness Miami could exploit. The RedHawks are 14th in Division I at 24.0 percent, although they are 0-for-15 in their last four games.
Both teams have played four conference games, and Miami leads the Bulldogs by one point, 4-3. The RedHawks are in sixth in the NCHC and UMD seventh.
WHO: Miami RedHawks (4-4) at No. 2 North Dakota Fighting Hawks (6-2-2).
WHEN: Friday, 8:37 p.m.; Saturday–8:07 p.m.
WHERE: Ralph Engelstad Arena, Grand Forks, N.D.
NORTH DAKOTA RADIO: KQHT-FM (96.1), Grand Forks, N.D.
NOTES: Miami’s The 2016-17 season wasn’t memorable, but one highlight was a 6-3 win in Grand Forks in which Louie Belpedio racked up a goal and two assists.
That was on Friday, Jan. 13. The RedHawks lost, 3-1 to UND the next night and have not won a conference road game since, going 0-7-2.
The USCHO poll has St. Cloud State, North Dakota and Denver in the 1-2-3 slots. Take that, league detractors.
The Fighting Hawks have only lost twice in their first 10 games – once at home vs. then-No. 8 Minnesota, and they split at Colorado College two weeks ago.
North Dakota enters this weekend unbeaten in its last three (2-0-1), having won its finale at Colorado College and gone 1-0-1 at seventh-ranked Wisconsin last weekend.
Goalie Cam Johnson is receiving much of the credit for the Fighting Hawks’ fast start, and his .925 save percentage is definitely solid, the UND defense has made Johnson’s life much easier.
North Dakota is allowing just 23.6 shots per game, as the team has a shot differential of plus-7½ shots per game.
The Fighting Hawks’ 95.1 percent penalty killing clip is third in Division I.
The UND blue line is headed by Christian Wolanin, son of 13-year NHL veteran Craig Wolanin. Christian Wolanin leads the team in points (3-6-9) and the fourth-round pick of Ottawa is the highest-drafted defenseman on the team.
Among defensemen, Wolanin, Andrew Peski, Colton Poolman and Hayden Shaw have dressed for all 10 of North Dakota’s games. Gabe Bast, who has logged six games, and Poolman both have a goal and three helpers.
Shaw is 0-3-3 and Peski has one assist.
Freshman Grant Mismash is a second-round pick – the only player taken in the top two rounds on the team – and he has three goals and five assists, leading all forwards with eight points.
Nick Jones (3-4-7), Shane Gersich (3-3-6) and assistant captain Rhett Gardner (2-4-6) are also major components of the UND forward corps.
Collin Adams, a freshman and sixth-rounder, leads the team with four goals.
In net, Johnson is fifth in Division I with a 1.63 goals-against average, and his save percentage is tied for 15th. However, after he started the first eight UND games, he missed last weekend with an undisclosed injury.
Peter Thome was between the pipes for the Wisconsin series, and he went 58-for-62 (.935) in a win and a tie.
The aforementioned Miami win here has been the only one for the RedHawks vs. UND in the teams’ last six meetings regardless of venue. North Dakota swept Miami in Oxford to wrap up last regular season.
Gardner leads all Fighting Hawks in career goals vs. MU, as he has scored three times in six games vs. the RedHawks.
Miami lost last Saturday vs. Colorado College, snapping a three-game winning streak. Goalie Ryan Larkin has allowed just five goals in his last four games.
Both teams are 1-1 in the NCHC.