Denver was cruising through its schedule, losing just four of its first 26 games and challenging for the top spot in the NCHC.
But the Pioneers’ run has been halted the past two weekends, as they were swept by Minnesota-Duluth and then again at North Dakota, and now they’re trying to hold onto home-ice advantage for in the upcoming conference tournament.
Denver took both games against Miami in Oxford last month by scores of 3-2 and 5-2.
A look at this weekend’s games:
WHO: Miami RedHawks (6-17-5) at No. 7 Denver Pioneers (17-8-5).
WHEN: Friday and Saturday – 9:07 p.m.
WHERE: Magness Arena (6,026), Denver, Colo.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Denver leads, 17-12-3.
DENVER RADIO: Both nights – KKFN-FM (104.3), Denver, Colo.
MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio.
TV: Saturday – Altitude 2 (DirecTV Ch. 681-1).
STREAM: Both nights – NCHC.tv.
NOTES: Scoring has eluded Denver during its current skid, as the Pioneers have been held to five goals in that four-game span and three tallies in their last three.
But the Pioneers are still averaging 3.03 goals and rank third in Division I in shots per game at 34.5.
Denver is deep up front, with five forwards tallying at least 20 points and 11 in double digits.
Four of its top four forwards are all NHL draftees. Team leader Emilio Pettersen (Calgary) has eight goals and a Pioneers-best 18 assists for 26, and Philadelphia selection Bobby Brink leads the team in goals with 11 and is second in points with 24.
Pettersen has four game-winning goals, and Brink is tops on DU in power play goals with five.
Brett Stapley, a Montréal pick, is fourth on the team with 21 points, and Cole Guttman – drafted by Tampa – and Liam Finlay have 20 each.
Stapley is tied for the team lead at plus-11, and Guttman has five game winners this season.
Of those 11 forwards with at least 10 points, two are seniors, Brink is a freshman, and the rest are all sophomores and juniors.
Denver’s defense corps consists of mostly shutdown blueliners, but Ian Mitchell – a Chicago selection – has six goals and 17 assists.
Slava Demin (Vegas) is second among blueliners with nine points, and only Griffin Mendel is 2-5-7. No other Pioneers defenseman has more than three points.
In net, Magnus Chrona is second in college hockey in freshman goals-against average at 2.22 and third among NCAA freshmen with a .918 save percentage.
Backup Devin Cooley has logged seven games this season and has a 1.97 GAA and .909 save percentage. He has been between the pipes for four of DU’s last seven games.
Should Denver lose this game, it would be the first time in two decades the Pioneers suffered through a five-game losing streak.
Miami’s skid is only one game, but the RedHawks are winless in their last nine.
Even in down seasons, MU has seemed to fare well against DU, coming away with points each of the past three seasons.
The RedHawks split at Magness Arena in 2018-19 in one of only two post-Thanksgiving wins in a season that saw MU win three road games all season.