Ben Blanchard, Sports Editor
This weekend, the Miami University hockey team looks to snap a five-game losing streak on the road at No. 1 Denver. The skid, which began with a 4-1 non-conference defeat to Bowling Green, has continued as the RedHawks were swept by W. Michigan and the University of Nebraska-Omaha in their first two National Collegiate Hockey Conference series.
Without junior captain Louie Belpedio, who has been sidelined the past two weeks with a lower-body injury, MU has been outscored 27-12.
“Louie’s a great player and one of our main leaders, so obviously it has a huge impact,” sophomore defenseman Grant Hutton said. “But that presents other guys the opportunity to step up and fill a role that they might not otherwise get.”
While Miami has struggled to close out and win games of late, senior forward Anthony Louis has continued his offensive success, as the starting winger is tied for fourth in the nation with nine goals this season. The Chicago Blackhawks prospect has tallied at least one point in eight of his last nine games and leads the ‘Hawks with 15 points (9g, 6a) this season.
Denver (7-2-1 overall, 3-0-1 NCHC) is riding an eight-game win streak, including a 3-2 road NCHC victory over defending NCAA champion and No. 8 North Dakota in its last game.
The top-ranked Pioneers have heavily relied on their defense and goaltending so far this season. UD is third nationally in team defense, allowing only 1.8 goals per game and no more than three goals in any of its first nine games. Junior goaltender Tanner Jaillet’s save percentage of .934 is sixth in the nation.
“They’re a really good defensive team, so we’ve been working on wheeling around the offensive zone, bearing down on our chances and working together to create more runs,” sophomore forward Josh Melnick said.
MU’s losing streak comes on the heels of a five-game unbeaten run. The RedHawks, now 3-6-2 overall and 0-4 in the NCHC, look to shock the nation’s top-ranked team to earn their first conference victory of the season.
“Our confidence is high, and we’re really excited for the opportunity to go in and play the number one team,” Melnick said. “There’s no better time for us to turn it around than now.”
The puck drops in the two-game series at Magness Arena in Denver, Colorado on Friday at 9:30 p.m. and Saturday at 9 p.m. Both times are in Eastern time and both will be streamed live at NCHC.tv.