So far this season, Denver won the Ice Breaker at home, was swept at UMass and earned a pair of wins vs. Providence at Magness Arena last weekend.
That means the defending national champions are 0-2 on the road, although in previous years they have fattened up at Cady Arena, winning five straight on the RedHawks’ home ice and dominating Miami late in those games.
The Pioneers have allowed just 13 goals through six games and held fringe top-10 Providence to three tallies in last weekend’s series.
A look at this weekend’s matchup:
WHO: No. 3 Denver Pioneers (4-2) at Miami RedHawks (4-1-1).
WHERE: Cady Arena (3,642), Oxford, Ohio.
WHEN: Friday – 7:05 p.m.; Saturday – 5:05 p.m.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Denver leads, 26-13-3.
STREAMING: NCHC.tv ($).
DENVER RADIO: Both nights — KKFN-FM (104.3), Denver, Colo.
MIAMI RADIO: Saturday – WBMV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
NOTES: It’s not the sexist storyline ever, but Denver’s early success was due largely to its shut-down defensive play.
The Pioneers are allowing just 23.5 shots on goal per game, the seventh-best clip in college hockey. In a sport where fewer than 10 percent of shots result in markers, if teams can only generate 23 shots, odds are they’re going to score two goals or fewer.
Defensemen Shai Buium, Sean Behrens, Matt Benning, Justin Lee and Kyle Mayhew are all quality shut-down D-men and this group has dressed for every game this season.
Tampa Bay fifth-round pick and veteran Magnus Chrona has three wins and a 2.27 goals-against average. Backup Matt Davis (no relation to former Miami F/D Matt Davis) posted a 24-save shutout in his only appearance.
If the Pioneers have a weakness to this point, it’s scoring at even strength, which is not surprising considering they lost their top four points-producers from 2021-22.
Denver has netted 17 goals overall (2.83 per game), with eight coming on the power play (and two more with an extra attacker, including an ENG), which means DU has scored just nine times at even strength.
With those eight PPGs, the Pioneers’ power play is operating at a 26.7 percent clip, 13th-best in the NCAA, so Miami needs to avoid the penalty box.
Harvard transfer Casey Dornbach, an outstanding off-season pick-up for Denver, leads the with in points with eight on three goals and five assists.
Carter Mazur, a Red Wings draftee, has scored five times in six games and added a pair of helpers.
Massimo Rizzo was a late draft pick by Carolina, but he tallied 36 points as a freshman and is 2-5-7 already in 2022-23.
No other Denver forward has more than four points.
For the first time in four years, Miami is knocking on the door of the top 20 in the major polls and is No. 19 in the unofficial Everything College Hockey rankings (never heard of it but hey, at this point we’ll take it).
The RedHawks have their highest winning percentage through six games since 2013 and are unbeaten at home this season, albeit against Ferris State with one game ending in a tie.
We mentioned Denver’s special teams: While DU is 13th in the NCAA, MU is No. 5 in Division I at 30.0 percent and has scored on the power play in five straight games.
Ryan Savage has scored all three of his goals on the man-advantage.
MU goalie Ludvig Persson has been a major reason for the team’s early success, logging every minute and posting a 1.83 GAA and .938 save percentage.
The CBD line of Matthew Barbolini, Joey Cassetti and Max Dukovac are the RedHawks’ top three points producers, combining for 20 of the team’s 49 points, including eight goals.
Cady Arena is expected to be rocking for Parents’ Weekend, which should help a Miami team facing its biggest challenge this season to date.