After a one-month hiatus from league play, #4 Denver will take to the road this weekend, facing Miami Friday and Saturday night at Steve Cady Arena. The series will mark the first between the teams since the Pioneers swept Miami on the road with a pair of 5-2 wins last February.
While Denver filled its holiday break from NCHC competition with a pair of home series, Miami has been completely out of action since playing Western Michigan Dec. 9-10, with the exception of a Dec. 30 exhibition game against Windsor. The team sits in sixth place in the NCHC standings with 10 points (3-4-1-0), although with two fewer games played than the teams in front of them.
Miami has shown strides lately which suggest the Pioneers could be in for a tightly contested weekend. Three of Miami’s last four series have come against ranked teams (#14 Minnesota Duluth, #5 Cornell and #11 Western Michigan) and the Redhawks managed a win in each of them. The most recent USCHO poll saw Miami receive 38 points, just two spots shy of the top 20.
The PairWise rankings and the KRACH model like Miami better than the top-20 voters do, placing Miami 17th and 15th, respectively.
The RedHawks are led offensively by Detroit native Gordie Green. The sophomore forward has already topped his 21-point freshman year with nine goals and 13 assists this season. Green has also gotten hot recently, with four goals and two assists in four games against Cornell and Western Michigan.
The Pioneers will most certainly see sophomore Ryan Larkin in net for Miami. Larkin, the cousin of Detroit Red Wings star Dylan Larkin, has played in all 18 of the team’s games this season. Although Larkin has seen his goals allowed average drop from 2.77 as a freshman to 2.69, his save percentage is down substantially from a respectable .910 to .893.
As a team, Miami has an excellent power play that is converting at 25 percent, good for sixth in the nation. Otherwise, they rank slightly better than average in team offense (29th), team defense (24th) and penalty kill (23rd). The RedHawks do take the second-most penalty minutes per game in the country (16.56), which could give Denver’s power play ample opportunities.
The puck drops for Friday’s game at 5:35 MT and at 5:05 Friday. Both can be seen on NCHC.tv.