It’s just the second week of NCHC conference play, but North Dakota has already faced a gauntlet of an early-season schedule.
The Fighting Hawks have played six of their last seven games against ranked opponents, and the unranked foe they faced was Penn State, which is 6-4.
UND swept Denver in Grand Forks to open its league slate last weekend, and Miami looks to break a three-year, seven-game winless streak vs. North Dakota after pulling off a split at No. 9 Omaha last weekend.
A look at this weekend’s matchup:
WHO: No. 7 North Dakota Fighting Hawks (6-3) at Miami RedHawks (2-5-1).
WHERE: Cady Arena (3,642), Oxford, Ohio.
WHEN: Friday – 7:07 p.m.; Saturday – 5:07 p.m.
ALL-TIME SERIES: North Dakota leads, 20-7-4.
STREAMING: Both nights – NCHC.tv ($).
MIAMI RADIO: Friday – WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.; Saturday – WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio.
NORTH DAKOTA RADIO: Both nights – KQHT-FM (96.1), Grand Forks, N.D.
NOTES: Historically, Miami has fared miserably against North Dakota.
The RedHawks are 7-20-1 vs. the Fighting Hawks – a winning percentage of .267 – and Miami is winless the last seven meetings. MU last beat UND on Nov. 10, 2018 in Oxford.
Despite the abysmal all-time track record, the RedHawks have played North Dakota tough at Cady Arena recently. These teams are 1-1-1 in their last three contests in Oxford.
Riese Gaber is becoming a star in the league, as the sophomore leads the Fighting Hawks in assists (7) and points (11).
Lake Superior State transfer Ashton Calder is tops on the team in goals with five and second among forwards with nine points.
Freshman Jake Schmaltz has made an immediate impact up front with a 4-4-8 line, and Judd Caulfield has three goals and five assists, with two of his markers game winners.
Matteo Constantini has also impressed his freshman season with three goals and four assists, and sophomore Louis Jamernik has three goals and three helpers.
Graduate senior Connor Ford was injured last weekend but is expected to play vs. Miami. He is 1-5-6 in eight games.
All-world nomination Jake Sanderson leads the North Dakota defense corps in goals (3), assists (6) and points (9). The sophomore and fifth-overall pick by the Ottawa Senators in 2020 is arguably the top D-man in the entire conference already.
Ethan Frisch is the only other Fighting Hawks blueliner with five or more points, going 2-3-5. Tyler Kleven also has two goals.
Chris Jandric and Cooper Moore have also been anchors for North Dakota, having dressed for all nine games.
Bemidji State graduate transfer goalie Zach Driscoll has logged every minute in net and has reaped the benefit of UND’s tight defense. He is facing an average of just 24 shots, posting a 2.35 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage.
Miami was ravaged with non-COVID illness and injury issues in Omaha last week, as key players were unable to dress for those games, but the RedHawks still earned a split with a 4-3 win in the series opener.
Chase Gresock is the hottest MU skater offensively, as he is riding a team-best three-game points streak, with two goals and two assists in that span.
Matthew Barbolini has scored in consecutive games, including an in-close marker last Saturday in Omaha that was voted top goal of the week by the NCHC.
This weekend’s games are just Miami’s second and third at Cady Arena in 2021-22, as the RedHawks opened the season playing seven of eight on the road.
Don’t discount the crowd factor: MU is unbeaten in its last three home contests in front of fans (2-0-1).
With this being the first home weekend series for the RedHawks in 21 months, the North Dakota factor and Parents’ Weekend, Cady Arena should have excellent crowds both nights.