By John Lachmann
WHO: Bowling Green Falcons (8-11-5) at No. 6 Miami RedHawks (13-6-5).
WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.
WHEN: Friday, 7:35 p.m. and Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV: Friday—Sports Time Ohio (DirecTV Ch. 662, Dish Network Ch. 5431) and Time Warner SportsChannel; Saturday—Time Warner SportsChannel.
MIAMI RADIO: Friday—None; Saturday—WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind., and WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio.
BOWLING GREEN RADIO: Both nights—WBGU-FM (88.1), Bowling Green, Ohio.
NOTES: Bowling Green’s recent track record against Miami has not been good, but the Falcons have gotten hot recently, carrying a 5-1-1 record in their last seven games into this weekend.
The RedHawks, playing in their first home series since early December, are 13-0-1 in their last 14 games vs. the Falcons. Coincidentally Miami holds the same edge in the last 14 meetings between these teams in Oxford.
On the flip side of that, Bowling Green’s lone tie in this recent series came when the Falcons visited Oxford last season.
The difference in BGSU the past few weeks has been its offense. The Falcons scored 1.94 goals per game their first 17 games, but they are averaging 3.00 in their last seven.
“Don’t look at their record – I think what you’ve seen the last few weeks from Bowling Green is indicative of what their team is really like,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “They play in your face. They finish checks – every time you tough the puck somebody’s going to finish a check on you – so it’s going to be intense. It’s going to be a battle every step of the way, every inch of the ice you’re going to have to fight for.”
No one in the conference has been hotter than sophomore forward Ryan Carpenter. Carpenter has goals in four straight games and boasts an eight-game point streak, recording six goals and four helpers in that span.
Carpenter leads the team in goals (10) and points (19).
Like Miami, Bowling Green’s forwards are very young. Five of the top six Falcons points producers this season are freshmen or sophomores.
Freshman forward Dajon Mingo (5-9-14) and sophomore forward Dan DaSalvo (2-12-14) are tied for second on the team in points. Sophomore forward Adam Berkle has four goals and eight assists for 12 points.
Junior forward Bryce Williamson has seven goals and three assists, and has also been hot recently. He has four markers and a pair of helpers during BGSU’s 5-1-1 run.
Other contributing forwards include freshman Mark Cooper, who has six goals, and junior Camden Wojtala has scored five times.
Senior Robert Shea and sophomore Mike Sullivan are tied for the Falcons’ lead in points by defensemen. Shea has three goals and nine assists, including four helpers in his last four games.
Sullivan has not found the net this season but is tied for the team lead with 12 assists.
Rounding out the Bowling Green blueline corps are sophomores Rusty Hafner and Connor Kucera, senior Ryan Peltoma and freshman Jose Delgadillo.
Senior Andrew Hammond has been in net for 10 of the Falcons’ last 11 games. Hammond is 0-6-1 all-time vs. Miami, and he has a 6-8-3 record, a 2.58 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.
Hammond has allowed just nine goals in his last six games and has not surrendered more than two goals in any game in that stretch.
Bowling Green’s backup, freshman Tommy Burke, has a 2.23 GAA and .905 save percentage in 457 minutes.
The Falcons obviously have a lot of work left to become contenders for an NCAA Tournament spot, but they are hosting the Toledo regional, which has to provide extra motivation.
Blasi has won 299 games in his 14 seasons at Miami, so he could reach 300 against former RedHawks assistant Chris Bergeron.
This is the first home series in seven weeks for Miami, which won a critical game at Wisconsin, 2-1 last Saturday to snap a season-long four-game unbeaten streak.
“I don’t look so much at outcomes as I do process, and the process for the last five games has been real good,” Blasi said. “Other than maybe the period and a half at Northern (Michigan) when we weren’t really good, the rest of it has been solid. Obviously you don’t need me to tell about whether (the UW win) is a big momentum shifter or not – it’s a big win, no question about that.”
The RedHawks still need to put more pucks in the net, as they are averaging 1.17 goals per game in their last six contests.
Despite MU’s offensive struggles, sophomore forward Austin Czarnik has stayed hot. He has managed seven points in his last seven games (2-5-7), and leads the team with 26 points.
But it has been a top-heavy offense. Freshman Riley Barber has 25 points, senior linemate Curtis McKenzie, who was bumped to the second line last Saturday, has seven goals and eight assists, and no one else on the team has more than 10 points.
Despite Miami’s lack of offensive pop, its defense has been exceptional despite the team’s recent mercurial run. The RedHawks