WHO: Miami RedHawks (15-11-2) at No. 8 Michigan Wolverines (15-9-4).
WHERE: Yost Arena, Ann Arbor, Mich.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
MIAMI RADIO: WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio; WKBV-FM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
MICHIGAN RADIO: WTKA-AM (1050), Ann Arbor, Mich.
TV: Friday—FSN Detroit Plus (DirecTV – Ch. 664), FSN North (DirecTV – Ch. 668, Dish Network – Ch. 436), Regional Sports West (DirecTV – Ch. 695); Saturday—CBS College Sports Network (DirecTV – Ch. 436, Dish Network – Ch. 152).
NOTES: Michigan enters this weekend with an 8-1-2 record in its last 11 games.
The Wolverines were off last weekend, coming off a split at Notre Dame.
Freshman forward Alex Guptill is the hottest Michigan skater, having scored in five straight games and recording points in six straight games. Guptill, a Dallas Stars draftee who was named the CCHA offensive player of January, leads the team in goals (14) and points (26).
Among other forwards, senior David Wohlberg and junior Chris Brown are tied for second in Michigan scoring with 25 points.
Junior forward A.J. Treais and freshman forward Phil Di Giuseppe have 16 points each, and freshman Travis Lynch and junior Lindsay Sparks have racked up 13 each.
And senior Luke Glendening and junior Kevin Lynch are key Wolverines’ defensive forwards.
On defense, junior San Jose Sharks drafree Lee Moffie has a team-high 17 assists and 20 points, and sophomore Mac Bennett has racked up 16. Senior Greg Pateryn has also been a mainstay on the Michigan blueline the past four seasons, and he has two goals and 12 assists.
The remaining defensemen on the Wolverines’ roster are all freshmen or sophomores, although freshman Jon Merrill, suspended for the first half of the season, has four assists in six games since returning.
In net, senior Shawn Hunwick has played all but 132 minutes this season, posting a 15-8-3 record with a 2.17 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. Hunwick is 1-4-1 against Miami with a 2.49 GAA and .929 save percentage.
Hunwick has been hot recently, allowing just four goals in his last four outings and stopping 147 of 151 shots (.974) in that span. He was named the conference’s top goalie for January.
Michigan is allowing 31 shots per games -- partly due to an inexperienced corps of blueliners -- but for the most part Hunwick has been able to nullify the Wolverines' youth on defense.
Michigan is perennially one of the top programs in the country, yet the RedHawks have fared well against the Wolverines in recent years. Miami is unbeaten in its last five games vs. Michigan (4-0-1) and 6-1-1 in its last eight, including a sweep in Ann Arbor Nov. 6-7, 2009 and a double overtime win in the NCAA regional final in 2010.
Michigan leads the conference in goals scored with 95 and averages more than a third of a goal per game than any other CCHA team.
This is an unusual UM team, as it’s eighth in penalty minutes and has not been terribly impressive on special teams. The Wolverines are seventh in the conference on the power play (15.9 percent) and have killed just 82.6 percent of its penalties, ninth-best in the CCHA.
Since the start of 2012, Miami is 6-2 after taking a 9-9-2 record into Christmas break.
While the RedHawks’ offense is up – they’ve averaged 3.13 goals since the break vs. 2.75 before – the bigger difference has been on defense. Opponents averaged 2.70 goals against Miami the first half of the season, but the RedHawks have given up just nine goals in eight games since (1.13).
This rejuvenation is due to both better goaltending by seniors Cody Reichard and especially Connor Knapp, and better play by the blueliners.
All of Miami’s defensemen played well during the team’s recent four-game homestand, but junior Joe Hartman played substantially better than in the first half of the season.
Junior Reilly Smith has easily been the hottest RedHawk offensively, recording seven goals and three assists since the break. Freshman Jimmy Mullin really stepped up as well, netting four goals in January after posting that many the first three months combined.
A show of how much better Miami’s balance has been offensively is the fact that freshman Austin Czarnik has not scored in nine games (although he has five assists in his last five), yet the RedHawks are winning games and scoring over three goals per game.
Obviously Czarnik is going to start scoring again, but it’s a great sign when he can go that long without scoring and others pick up the slack offensively.
One key player who’s questionable for this weekend is senior defenseman Cameron Schilling. Schilling missed last Saturday’s game with an upper body injury, and wore a non-contact sweater in Tuesday’s practice, although he showed no obvious signs of an injury.
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