WHO: No. 11 Providence Friars (22-12-5) at Miami RedHawks (9-20-7)
WHEN: Friday–7:35 p.m.; Saturday–7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.
NOTES: These teams split in Rhode Island last season, and Providence holds a 7-5-3 all-time edge.
And though it was 2½ years ago, the most memorable meeting between MU and PC came in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, when Providence held on for a 7-5 win, fending off Miami’s late comeback attempt.
Providence qualified for the NCAAs for the fourth straight season in 2016-17, a stretch that includes a national championship.
Six Friars have graduated from last season, and PC has eight freshmen.
Brian Pinho returns for his final season after leading the Friars in points with 40, including 28 assists. Junior Eric Foley, who scored 15 goals and dished for 19 assists, is also back for Providence.
Josh Wilkins is PC’s other returning skater with 30-plus points, as he went 13-18-31 in 2016-17.
Hayden Hawkey – could one pick a better name for a New England goaltender if one tried? – finished with a 2.19 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.
Miami went 0-9-1 to finish last season in its second 10-game winless streak of the campaign.
The RedHawks were held to 42 shots in these teams’ weekend series to open 2016-17.
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.
Miami has lost its last three games, all on the road, including its last two at St. Cloud State in its NCHC opening series.
The RedHawks scored just one goal at SCSU.
Miami (3-4-1) is back home this weekend and will face a Western Michigan team it eliminated from the NCHC Tournament last season in a best-of-3 series at Cady Arena.
The Broncos (4-2-1) swept Omaha to open NCHC play last weekend and has not suffered a similar offensive impotence, scoring 10 goals in the weekend series.
WMU’s top points producer to this point is Colt Conrad, a freshman who has a goal and six assists in six games.
Griffen Molino and Sheldon Dries have posted six points each, both having two goals and four helpers. Molino is also a freshman.
Kyle Novak is having a breakout season, going 3-2-5 after tallying just 10 points in 2014-15. Nolan LaPorte is another offensive threat for WMU, with four points in five games and 57 for his career.
The Broncos have a very young defense corps, with two freshmen, three sophomores and no seniors.
Both Western Michigan goalies have been solid, with Lukas Hafner notching a .932 save percentage and a 2.21 goals-against average, and Collin Olsen going .926 and 2.34.
WMU’s special teams have been outstanding, as the team is 24.1 percent on the power play, 14th in NCAA, and the Broncos’ penalty killing is 86.5 percent.
And Western Michigan has had a lot of practice on the PK, as the team is averaging over 12 penalty minutes per game.
WMU finished seventh in the eight-team NCHC last season, but it looks like it has a solid freshman class and should be a lot more competitive in conference play.
While the Broncos have had success early this season, they have yet to prove themselves on the road. While they are 4-0 at home, they have an 0-2-1 record outside of Kalamazoo.