Katie Giovinale

Freshman defenseman Chris Wideman and the RedHawks look forward to a big weekend against the Mavericks. Just one game removed from a five-game losing streak, Miami needs a sweep to ensure it stays eligible for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

After a five-game losing streak, the RedHawks returned to old form Saturday with a 6-1 win. The Miami University ice hockey team now heads to the Quest Center to take on the University of Nebraska-Omaha and prove the ‘Hawks are back for good.

“This is a defining game for us,” sophomore forward Tommy Wingels said. “We feel we’ve turned it around which is evident in nine different guys scoring points last Saturday. We’re having everyone contribute.”

The RedHawks (13-8-3) and the Mavericks (13-8-4) may have similar records, but Miami is confident about the weekend’s match-up after Saturday’s six-goal breakout.

“Our biggest challenge is staying on course with what we want to do,” Wingels said. “These teams are in the top 25 so these are big league games for us. Saturday we got back to our strengths. We focused on the little things, like moving our feet and working as a team. When we play like we’re supposed to play things work out like they did Saturday night.”

Wingels, who has seven goals and nine assists this season, is tied with sophomore forward Carter Camper for the team lead in game-winning goals with two. Camper leads the CCHA with a 1.3 points-per-game average. He is also a nominee for the Hobey Baker Memorial Trophy-fans can vote for Camper at muredhawks.com.

Heading into Friday’s contest, Miami is tied for 11th in the PairWise rankings, the primary system used for selecting teams to the national tournament. Taking into account automatic bids for conference champions, this puts MU right on the bubble for making the 16-team field. The RedHawks know the importance of burying their five-game losing-streak with two more wins.

“After break we started out pretty slow; we weren’t mentally prepared,” sophomore forward Andy Miele said. “We have to do the same thing we did Saturday-keep possession and stay away from turnovers. We need to keep all four lines rolling. When everyone sticks to the game plan we’re a pretty tough team to beat.”

The Mavericks, who are tied with Ohio State University for fourth place in the CCHA, enter the weekend with 22 points. UNO began its season 9-2-1-1 and then improved to 12-4-3-2. Over the past six games, however, the Mavericks have won just one game.

“They’re a pretty good team and we expect them to be ranked at the end of the year,” senior forward Bill Loupée said. “They’ve been climbing the CCHA standings pretty fast so we want to reassert ourselves.”

Several Miami players have found success against Nebraska-Omaha. Jarod Palmer has eight points in six games against the Mavericks, and Carter Camper has seven points in four games. Camper also had his first career goal against the Mavericks last season.

“We need to play well in all 60 minutes and play a good defensive game,” defenseman Matt Tomassoni said. “They have a lot of skilled players so we need to score some goals.”

Senior forward Justin Mercier is five points away from being the 42nd member of Miami’s 100 point club. Last season, Ryan Jones, Nate Davis, and Mitch Ganzak all joined the 100 point club.

Miami, who is 59-9-5 when Mercier scores a point, is also perfect when defenseman Ray Eichenlaub scores a positive +/- ranking. Goaltender Connor Knapp is 12th in the nation in goals against average, and Pat Cannone has four game-tying goals – more than anyone else on the team.

The puck drops at 8:05 Friday. CBS College Sports will broadcast both games on television. Visit the Miami University Athletics site to listen or watch the games online.