By John Lachmann
WHO: Denver Pioneers (7-5-2) at No. 12 Miami RedHawks (8-6-2).
WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.
WHEN: Friday—7:35 p.m.; Saturday—7:07 p.m.
TV: Friday—Time Warner Ch. 1311. Saturday—None.
MIAMI RADIO: Friday—WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind. Saturday—WBKV-AM (1490) and WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio.
DENVER RADIO: KJAC-FM (105.5), Denver, both nights.
NOTES: After going 1-5-1 from mid-October the second week of November, the Pioneers are 5-0-1 in their last six games.
Denver was off last week, so the Pioneers will play for the first time in 13 days on Friday.
Denver will of course be remembered eternally for being the team that faced Miami in the first-ever game at Cady Arena in 2006 as well as where former George Gwozdecky landed after coaching Miami until he was let go recently.
The Pioneers do not have any dominant scorers, but four Denver players have reached double digits in points and most are blueliners. Defenseman Joey LaLeggia has 12 points, and leads the team in goals with six.
Freshman forward Trevor Moore has 11 points (4-7-11), and senior defenseman David Makowski and sophomore defenseman Quentin Shore both have 10 points.
A couple of Denver players have NHL ties. Sophomore defenseman Nolan Zajac, who has four goals and four assists, is the younger brother of New Jersey Devils forward Travis Zajac, and junior 6-feet-4 Ty Loney is the son of former Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Mighty Ducks forward Troy Loney.
While the Pioneers have offensively-active defensemen, their penalty killing is No. 1 in the country. Denver has killed 64 of 70 penalties (91.4 percent) and has not allowed a shorthanded goal.
That should be an interesting matchup for a super-skilled Miami power play that often uses five forwards.
In net, senior Sam Brittain has logged almost 800 minutes already this season and is fourth in the country with a 1.66 goals-against average and tied for third with a save percentage of .945.
Brittain has been a workhorse for the Pioneers and should play both games in Oxford unless he struggles on Friday.
Miserable weather is predicted for Butler County on Friday – up to 10 inches of snow is predicted to fall in the hours preceding and during the game – which will undoubtedly cost Miami a significant number of fans for the series opener.
Miami forwards junior Austin Czarnik and sophomore Riley Barber are coming off five-point weekends (Czarnik picked up all of his points on assists on Saturday).
Junior forward Blake Coleman netted three goals at Bemidji State and junior forward Alex Wideman – whose scoring is typically streaky – scored twice on Saturday and may be primed for a hot streak.