By John Lachmann
WHO: No. 2 Miami RedHawks (0-0) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (0-0).
WHERE: Friday—Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio. Saturday—Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.
WHEN: 7:05 p.m. both nights.
MIAMI RADIO: None.
OHIO STATE RADIO: WBNS-AM (1460) both nights.
NOTES: This will be the first time since Cady Arena opened in 2006 that Miami will not play its season opener at home, and the first time since 1979 that these teams have met as non-conference foes.
Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik, who was an assistant for the Buckeyes the past three seasons, will make his debut in the Friday game.
Ohio State returns its top eight offensive players from a 2012-13 squad that tied for 45th out of 59 in the NCAA, averaging 2.38 goals per game.
The Buckeyes return their top eight points producers from last season, led by junior forwards Ryan Dzingel, Tanner Fritz and Max McCormick.
Dzingel led Ohio State in goals (16) and points (38), and Fritz finished with a team-high 26 assists, recording 37 points. McCormick went 15-16-31.
Senior Alex Szczechura is the other key offensive returning threat at forward, coming off a 12-goal, 11-assist season.
The Buckeyes boast an impressive returning defense corps. Sophomore Craig Dalrymple went 3-14-17 in his rookie campaign, and senior Curtis Gedig notched three goals and 12 assists in 32 games.
Ohio State has an experienced corps of returning blueliners, with sophomore Sam Jardine and juniors Justin DaSilva and Al McLean all back after playing a combined 100 games in 2012-13.
Sophomore goalie Collin Olsen could be the replacement for Brady Hjelle. Olsen was 2-3-1 in nine games last season, finishing with a mercurial 3.08 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage.
The Buckeyes brought in two freshmen goalies, which doesn’t exude confidence in Olsen, and Miami may face one or both of them.
Freshmen Logan Davis played for the Junior Blue Jackets and is from the Columbus area, and freshman Matt Tomkins, a Chicago Blackhawks draftee in 2012, had a 2.56 GAA and a .924 save percentage in the Alberta Junior Hockey League last season.
The other freshmen of significance for Ohio State are forwards David Gust and Nick Schilkey and defenseman Josh Healey.
Schilkey had a huge year for Green Bay of the USHL, tallying 32 goals and 39 assists in 59 games, and Gust scored 21 goals for Fargo of the same league, and was fourth on his team in both goals and points.
Healey scored 10 goals and dished for 13 assists as Tomkins’ teammate.
Miami went 3-1-1 vs. the Buckeyes last season, but the RedHawks only scored nine goals in those games.
Sophomore Riley Barber missed one of those games because of the World Juniors, but he still led all Miamians in points vs. OSU, recording two goals and three assists.
Junior captain Austin Czarnik dished for four assists vs. the Buckeyes, and junior Blake Coleman went 2-2-4.
Sophomore Jay Williams was the better goalie vs. Ohio State last season, going 1-0-1 with a shutout in the Pittsburgh tournament. He stopped 51 of 52 Buckeyes shots. Sophomore Ryan McKay was 2-1 vs. OSU, turning aside 63 of 68 shots.