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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

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Photos: North Dakota at Miami

Images from the series played between North Dakota and Miami University at Cady Arena in Oxford, Ohio, on Feb. 23-24, 2018. All photos by Cathy Lachmann/BoB.

Miami loses late lead, ties NorDak

OXFORD, Ohio – On Friday, Miami battled back from three down to win.

One night later, No. 12 North Dakota was the team overcoming a multiple-goal deficit.

But unlike the RedHawks, the Fighting Hawks were only able to salvage a tie after evening the score on a pair of third-period goals for a 2-2 draw at Cady Arena on Saturday.

Miami (11-17-4) earned the extra point in 3-on-3 play after the game was officially ruled a tie, giving the RedHawks five of a possible six points on the weekend.

Despite the strong showing this weekend, Miami clinched last place in the NCHC. Three teams are tied for fifth, six points ahead of the RedHawks. All have two regular season games remaining.

So it is possible for MU to tie at least one of those three, but Miami cannot win a tiebreaker against any of them.

Melnick

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

After the completion of this game, St. Cloud clinched the conference title, so the RedHawks will travel there for their first-round NCHC Tournament series in two weeks.

RECAP: The teams were scoreless after the first period, but Miami’s Josh Melnick gave Miami the lead when he stole a puck at his defensive blue line and skated in for a breakaway, pounding the puck into the pads of North Dakota goalie Cam Johnson.

At first it appeared Johnson had made the save, but the referee by the net ruled it a goal, a shorthanded tally at the 4:23 mark of the middle stanza.

The RedHawks made it 2-0 just 26 seconds into the third period when Carter Johnson slid a pass through the slot that Kiefer Sherwood rifled home.

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

But at the 4:20 mark of the final frame, a shot by the Fighting Hawks’ Hayden Shaw from a bad angle hit the glove of Miami goalie Ryan Larkin and trickled in.

Exactly three minutes later, UND’s Nick Jones redirected a blue-line shot by Colton Poolman to tie the score.

After five minutes of 5-on-5 overtime, Sherwood found the net in the 3-on-3 to give Miami the extra league point.

STATS: It was the ninth goal of the season for Melnick, and Sherwood scored his seventh. Melnick led Miami with three points on the weekend.

— It was just the second time in 14 games the RedHawks allowed fewer than two goals.

— Make that six straight games with neither a power-play nor a first-period tally.

— And Miami still hasn’t won a Saturday game since Nov. 18.

— Both Melnick and Louie Belpedio reached 80 career points this weekend. Melnick has 27 goals and 53 assists, while Belpedio has scored 25 times and dished out 55 assists. Belpedio is a senior while Melnick is a junior.

That duo is tied for the team lead in active career points, and Sherwood is two back with 32 goals and 46 assists for 78 points. He’s also a junior.

THOUGHTS: Torn again.

Happy with a 1-0-1 weekend against North Dakota? Of course. Is Jack Johnson still hated in Oxford?

For the most part it was a very well-played series by Miami in a down year against a national power.

Cady Arena was rocking and these were two extremely entertaining games to watch.

But it’s hard to be happy about yet another third-period collapse. Winning the 3-on-3 skills competition point does nothing to assuage that.

When the final chapter is written about RedHawks Version 2017-18, near the top of the list of what went wrong this regular season will be the inability to close out games.

And this has been a problem for a number of years.

Miami has shown glimpses of excellence this season, but it cannot afford to continue flipping wins to ties and losses.

— Not happy with the penalties in this game on multiple fronts. Karch Bachman was taken down in the second period by a player also committing interference and possible a felony or two and there was no call.

A too-many-men call was missed. Miami had one power play, North Dakota (14-11-9) three including a major. That’s a night after concurrent minors against the RedHawks resulted in the Fighting Hawks’ second goal on Friday.

Penalty minutes were 19-2 on Saturday.

— That said, Rourke Russell’s minor penalty was undisciplined, and Carson Meyer’s major was deserved.

Russell had just turned the puck over and took a blatant chop at the steal-ee. Meyer saw numbers on the back of jersey and barreled into his guy anyway.

That’s a major in the NCAA.

— Speaking of the Meyer hit, someone decided to make that the hit of the game on the scoreboard at Cady Arena. A dangerous hit from behind. A major penalty and ejection.

Wise up, Cady staff.

— Miami looked extremely tired in the third period. Second game in two nights, of course, but that’s true of every team in college hockey in the third period every Saturday.

It was unusually humid and warm for this area in February, but again, both teams had to deal with that.

— With this being the final home game, I think it’s time to lobby for some additional players’ numbers to be added to the Zamboni end walls.

Andy Greene has been out of Oxford for 12 years. It’s time his name goes up. Ryan Jones graduated in 2008. Same goes.

A decade plus on both. What in the world is everyone waiting for?

The first two are no-brainers, but I’d add Andy Miele to that list as well.

He won the Hobey Baker seven years ago. That’s long enough.

In two years, add Austin Czarnik. He’s already been gone since 2015 and he epitomized Miami hockey values both on and off the ice as much as anyone else on that wall.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C. Sherwood finished with seven shots and Green had six. It’s so nice to have Sherwood playing as well as he did in 2016-17. Melnick created his own goal with the steal in his own zone, and Sherwood’s came after Miami won board battles, so both markers came off of hard work.

DEFENSEMEN: C+. North Dakota controlled the puck more than Miami, so it’s sort of comme ci, comme ca to point out that Grant Hutton, Alec Mahalak and Chaz Switzer all blocked three shots, and Scott Dornbrock added two blocks. Russell took two penalties and one of those chances resulted in a North Dakota goal.

GOALTENDING: B. Hard to fault a guy for a tip-in from the slot, but the first one was all Ryan Larkin. He should’ve gloved the puck but it bounced out and into the net. But he was 28 of 30 and made some outstanding saves.

LINEUP CHANGES: None. This looks like the 19 that coach Enrico Blasi will ride into the NCHC Tournament.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It was senior night, and overall a 1-0-1 weekend vs. North Dakota is a great send-off for Louie Belpedio, Scott Dornbrock and Conor Lemirande in their final home series.

Unfortunately, this class made the NCAA Tournament just once, and that was their freshmen seasons.

Miami will finish last in the NCHC for the second time since the league’s inception in 2013-14 and will head to the road for the fourth time in five years to open the league tournament.

In the eight-team conference, the RedHawks have finished eighth, second, fifth, seventh and now eighth again since joining the league.

Next weekend, Miami heads to Denver for a series that means zilch to the RedHawks in terms of points/seeding/NCAA Tournament qualifying.

The focus now is all on their series at St. Cloud State in two weeks.

Miami goes down 3, wins in OT

OXFORD, Ohio – It was a bizarre night for Miami’s offense.

The RedHawks eclipsed the 240-minute scoreless mark – equivalent to four full games – for the first time in school record, and then scored four times to erase a three-goal deficit in a 4-3 overtime win over No. 12 North Dakota at Cady Arena on Friday.

Miami trailed, 3-0 eight minutes into the second period before netting four straight goals, capped off by Ben Lown’s game winner 59 seconds into the extra session.

That snapped a five-game losing streak for the RedHawks and a five-game winless stretch vs. the Fighting Hawks (0-4-1).

MU had not scored a goal since the first game of its home series vs. St. Cloud State on Feb. 9 and establishing the team record for the longest scoring drought at 240:24.

RECAP: Grant Mismash fired a wrister from the top of the faceoff circle that snuck inside the far post through a screen 13:54 into the first period.

Christian Wolanin made it 2-0 shortly into a two-minute 5-on-3 on a one-time blast off a feed by Colton Poolman at the 2:17 mark of the second period.

Five minutes later, North Dakota (14-11-8) extended its lead to three when Johnny Simonson tapped in a loose puck in the crease after Simonson was denied by Miami goalie Ryan Larkin on a breakaway.

After making the save, Larkin was taken out by a pursuing teammate, leaving the net empty for the trailing Simonson.

But 48 seconds after that goal, Josh Melnick slid a pass through two defenders to Alec Mahalak in the slot, and Mahalak buried the first marker of his career just under the crossbar on the glove side.

The RedHawks (11-17-3) cut the deficit to one when Phil Knies took a feed from Kiefer Sherwood wrapped around the back of the net and tucked it past goalie Cam Johnson 1:42 into the third period.

Miami tied it just 2:18 later when Melnick threaded one to Gordie Green at the faceoff dot, and Green’s shot hit a body and popped over Johnson into the back of the net.

Grant Hutton stole a puck along the boards and in the same motion batted the puck ahead to Lown on the right wing, and Lown skated into the faceoff circle and went far post for the game winner 59 seconds into overtime.

STATS: Lown and Melnick both finished with two points, with Lown going 1-1-2 and Melnick picking up a pair of helpers.

It was Lown’s third career multi-point game, and Melnick – the team leader in assists – has recorded at least two five times this season.

Knies is now second on the RedHawks in goals with 11.

— Miami may have snapped out of its offensive funk, but its power play is still MIA. Despite six chances, this was the fifth straight game in which the RedHawks have not scored on the man advantage.

— But the PK has fared better, going 18-for-20 (90.0 percent) in that span.

— It was also the fifth consecutive contest in which Miami has failed to score in the first period.

THOUGHTS: This was one of those here-we-go-again-is-there-a-nearby-deep-frier-I-can-stick-my-head-in type of starts during which the RedHawks were down multiple goals 22 minutes in and behind three a few minutes after.

Larkin probably would’ve liked the first one back and the second was on a 5-on-3, so those weren’t exactly caused by poor skater play.

All-world forward Shane Gersich got behind the defense on the third goal, so yeah, that one is on that corps.

And Miami outshot North Dakota in the first period – all three and overtime in fact – so it’s not like the RedHawks didn’t show up.

That’s what makes this win so impressive. Three-goal leads can snowball, especially against teams like Miami that are struggling for wins.

With not much to play for, the RedHawks stunned a Fighting Hawks team that has tons to play for each night.

Miami’s fate is nearly sealed in the conference, and UND is fighting for home-ice advantage in the league tournament and is on the NCAA bubble.

The RedHawks may be fighting very long odds to get back to the NCAA Tournament, but at least they showed on Friday they are going to fight.

Miami defenseman Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

— North Dakota may be down a bit this season but this team still skates and moves the puck very well. The Fighting Hawks’ fans also numbered in triple digits. And they were vocal.

— Hutton’s play on the overtime winner shows why pro teams are salivating. He stole the puck along the boards and sent a perfect outlet pass to Knies in one motion. If he didn’t get the puck ahead that quickly, North Dakota would’ve had a player in Knies’ face as he penetrated the zone.

This guy has a great chance to play in the NHL in a couple of years.

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

— Melnick’s assist on Mahalak’s goal may have actually been intended for Green. Both were between the faceoff circles, and when it slid past Green, Mahalak stepped into it. Miami went back to that play for its third goal, as Melnick fed Green with both in nearly identical spots.

GRADES

FORWARDS: B. Melnick’s passing was at a peak level in this game, as both of his assists came from the corner along the goal line to the edge of the slot. Freshmen Lown and Knies both scored and have both improved drastically as the season has progressed. Knies also blocked four shots. Carter Johnson didn’t get a point but his steal ultimately led to the Melnick-to-Green goal that tied it. Overall this corps was solid defensively as well, especially on the penalty kill.

DEFENSEMEN: B+. Mahalak scored, Hutton’s play on the game-winner was amazing and Louie Belpedio picked up an assist on Mahalak’s goal. It was a good night for this group, as North Dakota finished with just 17 shots despite six power plays. The one blemish is that Rourke Russell did get beat on the third UND breakaway that led to a goal, and he also inadvertently took out his own goalie on that play.

GOALTENDING: C+. Yes, Larkin allowed three goals on 17 shots (.824), but he faced a handful of Grade-A chances and was taken out of the play on one of those goals. The first one was stoppable, but the second was a 5-on-3 missile from the high slot. He also held UND off the scoreboard the final 33 minutes, allowing Miami to come back.

LINEUP CHANGES: Just one: Carter Johnson was back in the lineup while Zach LaValle sat. Johnson contributed to Green’s goal.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This is what the second half of the season in this league should be about: Thrilling, well-played games between teams ranging from good to top-ranked.

That’s how it was every weekend down the stretch three years ago when Miami won the NCHC Tournament.

As a fan, as soon as a game ended you couldn’t wait to get back to the rink the next night or weekend.

This season definitely hasn’t gone as planned, but this night was a reminder of how entertaining meaningful games in this league are in late winter.

From the RedHawks and their fans’ perspective, the only thing lacking was the standings relevance, as Miami is competing for neither a league title nor home-ice advantage.

Hopefully the full stretch-run experience will return to Cady Arena next season.

Analysis: Mad or glad over finale?

Saturday was one of those games that created conflicting emotions.

Should fans be happy that Miami scored in the final 90 seconds to pull out the tie, or should they be upset that the RedHawks had a 2-0 lead and let it dissolve?

Or maybe some of both following a 3-3 final at North Dakota’s Ralph Engelstad Arena?

Yeah, that last one.

REA is one of the most intimidating rinks in the NCAA for opponents, and jumping out to a two-goal lead there is impressive. So is tying the score in such a hostile environment with time running out.

The three goals allowed in between, a little less remarkable.

Teams like North Dakota (7-2-3) are more than capable of blowing up a two-or-more goal lead – as the Fighting Hawks proved last night – and elite teams are able to fend off such surges most times.

Then again, a lot of teams that bent like Miami did, falling behind a goal with under four minutes left, would have broken rather than battle back for a tie.

Things change quickly during a college hockey season, but at this snapshot – 10 games into 2017-18 with a 4-5-1 record – the RedHawks (4-5-1) are clearly not at elite status in Division I.

But they’re definitely not a bottom feeder either.

Other thoughts…

– Josh Melnick is building one of the best clutch goal-scoring resumes of anyone to wear a Miami hockey sweater. He scored the tying goal with under two minutes left on Saturday and had the winner vs. Colorado College on Nov. 3.

The RedHawks have won four games in overtime since Melnick joined the team in the fall of 2015. Melnick has three of the game winners in those contests.

Miami’s Grant Frederic (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– Grant Frederic had logged two games this season and was 0-3-3 with 31 shots in 30 games for his career prior to this series. He fired nine SOG and picked up a pair of assists for the weekend. Meanwhile, fellow blueliners Grant Hutton and Louie Belpedio – who were lighting up the scoreboard – combined for just five shots in the two games.

– Really like the progress we’ve seen from Ryan Siroky this season in every aspect of his game, and he had one great play and one not-so-great one in this game. Siroky backhanded one for his first goal of 2017-18 in what was not an easy play. But he lost his glove in the defensive zone later in the game, and rather than play without it he took a stride forward to reach for it, losing his opponent in the process and ultimately resulting in a goal. He has a goal and an assist in the past three games.

– Coach Enrico Blasi had stood pat with his starting 19 in recent games, but he made substantial changes this weekend. Two moves stood out, and it’s unclear if they were healthy scratches or injured.

On Friday, D Scott Dornbrock did not dress for the first time in over two years and Saturday F Kiefer Sherwood missed just the third game of his two-plus season career.

Frederic dressed on defense both nights, as Dornbrock was not in the lineup on Friday and Rourke Russell sat for the first time this season on Saturday.

With Sherwood and Austin Alger both out up front on Saturday, Willie Knierim saw his first action of 2017-18, and Christan Mohs played for the first time in six games.

Late again: Melnick goal delivers tie

There’s no leaving early at Miami games this season.

For the second time in eight days, the RedHawks scored with an extra attacker late in the third period as they salvaged a 3-3 tie vs. No. 2 North Dakota at Ralph Engelstad Arena on Saturday.

Melnick

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

And once again it was Josh Melnick rallying Miami. He scored the overtime winner on Nov. 3 vs. Colorado College.

This time he evened it up with 1:24 left, sending the game to the extra session, a 3-on-3 and eventually a shootout, the latter of which Fighting Hawks won and earned an extra conference point.

The RedHawks managed one of a possible six points on the weekend, as they lost on Friday. They dropped to 0-8-3 in their last 11 conference road games.

Miami actually led, 2-0 in this game. Gordie Green put the RedHawks ahead when he took a feed from Josh Melnick, turned and fired it in from the high slot with 3:53 left in the first period.

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

MU went up by two when a rebound off a blue line blast from Grant Frederic kicked out to Ryan Siroky, who shoveled it in off his backhand from the side of the goal eight minutes into the middle stanza.

But North Dakota (7-2-3) answered 37 seconds later when a rip by Colton Poolman from just inside the zone deflected off a RedHawks defender and in.

The Fighting Hawks evened it up 33 seconds into the third period when Dixon Bowen skated into the zone and fired one past Miami goalie Ryan Larkin from the top of the faceoff circle.

UND went ahead, netting its third straight goal, with just 3:38 remaining. Grant Mismash was left alone for a brief 2-on-0 with Larkin but went behind the net when Larkin closed down his shooting lanes.

At a terrible angle, Mismash was somehow able to lift a pass to the other side of the crease for Shane Gersich, who batted it out of the air and into the net.

Down 3-2 with time running out and in front of nearly 12,000 UND fans, Miami defenseman Louie Belpedio somehow completed a slap pass through heavy traffic to Melnick at the inside edge of the faceoff circle. Like Siroky, Melnick hit twine with the backhand.

Melnick nearly won it in the closing seconds of regulation, but the game went to overtime, during which the Fighting Hawks outshot Miami, 4-2.

With the game officially recorded as a tie, the teams skated to a scoreless five-minute 3-on-3, and finally Christian Wolanin scored in the fourth round of the ensuing shootout to give UND an additional point in the NCHC standings.

It was the first league game this season that had advanced beyond standard 5-on-5 overtime. Miami received one point for the tie and the Fighting Sioux two for the tie plus shootout win.

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

Melnick was the lone RedHawk with multiple points, accomplishing that feat for the third time this season with a line of 1-1-2.

Green is now tied with Grant Hutton for the team goal-scoring lead with five, and Melnick has three – all in the past five games. Siroky’s marker was his first of the season.

It was the third time in 2017-18 a Miami game was decided in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime. In addition to Melnick’s two late tallies, Providence scored a game winner against the RedHawks in the final second of the third period.

Miami is currently in sixth place in the NCHC with four conference points in four games. The RedHawks return home to host Minnesota-Duluth next weekend.

Miami downed by North Dakota

After a scoreless first period that saw Miami outshoot North Dakota, 9-4, the Fighting Hawks clicked off three straight crucial goals in the middle stanza.

That was more than enough offense for UND, which beat the RedHawks, 4-1 at Ralph Engelstad Arena on Friday.

One of those early Fighting Hawks shots was a 5-on-3 slam-dunk one-timer that Miami goalie Ryan Larkin was somehow able to keep out of the net.

But North Dakota (7-2-2) broke through seconds after a later RedHawks power play ended. Nick Jones, who had just been released from the penalty box, took an outlet pass and went in for a breakaway, skating around a sprawling Larkin for a tap-in goal four minutes into the second period.

Rhett Gardner made it 2-0 when he skated behind the Miami net and tucked the puck inside the post on a wraparound with 3:43 left in that frame.

Miami forward Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Less than two minutes later, UND extended the lead to three when Jones located a loose puck at the top of the crease and banged it home.

Karch Bachman got the RedHawks (4-5) on the board off a rebound when he poked a loose puck in the crease around a defender and into the net with 13:34 left in regulation.

But the Fighting Hawks regained their three-goal lead with 8:34 left. Grant Mismash poked at a loose puck that was under Larkin, and it crossed the goal line to make it 4-1.

Miami’s Alec Mahalak (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Bachman’s goal was his second of the season, and both defensemen Grant Frederic and Alec Mahalak picked up their first assists of 2017-18. It was the first point of Mahalak’s career.

Despite the final three-goal disparity, Miami outshot North Dakota, 28-26, thanks largely to a 9-4 advantage in the first period.

The RedHawks have now logged 10 conference road games without a win, going 0-8-2 in that stretch. MU’s last away victory was at North Dakota in January.

These teams will wrap up the weekend series at 8:07 p.m. on Saturday.

Preview: Last NCHC road win was at UND

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.

TV: None.

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.

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

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.