Miami opens its conference schedule this weekend, and coach Chris Bergeron makes his NCHC coaching debut in arguably the most hostile environment in college hockey.
The RedHawks will face North Dakota in a two-game set in Grand Forks two weeks after going 1-0-1 in their first two road games of 2018-19 at Colgate.
But while Colgate is No. 43 in the PairWise and owns a .313 winning percentage, UND has lost just one game and is ranked sixth in the PairWise and No. 10 in the USCHO.com poll.
A look at this weekend’s series:
WHO: Miami RedHawks (2-3-2) at North Dakota Fighting Hawks (5-1-1).
WHEN: Friday – 8:37 p.m.; Saturday – 8:07 p.m.
WHERE: Ralph Engelstad Arena (11,640), Grand Forks, N.D.
ALL-TIME SERIES: North Dakota leads, 14-7-3.
MIAMI RADIO: Both games – WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
NORTH DAKOTA RADIO: Both games – KQHT-FM (96.1), Grand Forks, N.D. (flagship).
NOTES: North Dakota’s early success can be attributed to its tenacious defense.
The Fighting Hawks are first in the NCAA in goals allowed per game (1.43) as well as average shots against (17.29).
The shots against stat, as well as goalie Adam Scheel’s .917 save percentage – which is very good but not proportionate for a team giving up fewer than 1½ goals per game – shows how good the UND defense has been in front of its netminder.
Scheel has played every minute in net for UND this season, recording a shutout and holding five of seven opponents to one goal or fewer.
North Dakota’s blueline corps is led by senior Colton Poolman, who has played 121 games and notched 15 goals and 47 assists.
Jacob Bernard-Docker and Jonny Tychonick are both sophomore Ottawa draftees, and Andrew Peski, Matt Kiersted and Gabe Bast all have multiple seasons of experience for UND on the back end.
North Dakota has generated plenty of offense as well, scoring 27 goals in seven games, or 3.86 per contest.
Despite that output, no Fighting Hawk has more than three markers, with 16 players finding the scoresheet.
Seniors Dixon Bowen and Colorado College transfer Westin Michaud have identical 3-1-4 lines, tied for the team lead in goals.
Jordan Kawaguchi leads the team in points with seven, scoring twice and posting five assists.
Freshman Shane Pinto, another Senators selection, has two goals and three assists, and New York Islanders selection Collin Adams is 2-3-5.
In addition to Bowen and Michaud, forwards Harrison Blaisdell (Winnipeg), Cole Smith, Grant Mismash (Nashville) and Mark Senden all have four points.
Despite their offensive success, the Fighting Hawks are just 2-for-25 (8.0 percent) on the power play. They have been outstanding on the PK though, killing penalties at a 95.2 percent clip.
Ryan Larkin has played in five of Miami’s seven games this season, and with him recording a shutout in the finale at Colgate, he appears the likely starter in Friday’s series opener.