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Miami faces Minnesota Duluth in NCHC opener

Miami junior forward Riley Barber crosses the blue line with the puck during a Miami win over Ohio State. Barber has five points on the season, coming on three assists and two goals.

Photo by Angelo Gelfuso

By Steven Perkins, For The Miami Student

The No. 10 Miami University men's ice hockey team hits the road this weekend to open conference play against the No. 17 University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs.

Head coach Enrico Blasi said this is his favorite time of the year.

"This is the fun part of the season when you're playing in-conference and you're on the road," Blasi said. "It's a great environment and there's no one there but the team and I'm looking forward to hopefully playing well."

Miami is 4-2 on the year after sweeping Ohio State University and splitting with Bowling Green State University and St. Lawrence University. Miami is coming off an overtime win against St. Lawrence. That game was decided in the extra frame by junior forward Sean Kuraly. He has four goals on the season and three of those are game winners.

Senior forward Blake Coleman also had a big weekend against the Saints. He had three points Friday, including two goals and an assist. Coleman has at least one point in five of the six games played this year. He said little adjustments will help him replicate that offense against UMD.

"I just have to keep working hard," Coleman said. "Keep correcting little things in practice all week."

Defense was the theme of Saturday's game as Miami held St. Lawrence to just 11 shots, including a 30-minute span where the Saints were unable to put a single shot on net. Senior defenseman Ben Paulides said it was just another day at the office for the RedHawk defensive core.

"I don't think we did anything out of the ordinary or anything spectacular," Paulides said. "It was just all clicking for us. We just did the things we do to make us good everyday."

Blasi agreed it didn't take skill to shut down the Saints.

"Defense is all about hard work," Blasi said. "Let's face it, you don't need any skill to play defense as far as playing a good brand of team defense."

Blasi said this weekend the focus will be the team's mindset.

"Your mindset has to be right, the work ethic has to be there, the will to sacrifice needs to be there," Blasi said. "It's a lot of hard work, it's painful work. You have to have the right frame of mind going into the game to do that."

A bench-clearing brawl wrapped up this series in Oxford last year. Coleman took the first punch from Duluth and it was a fiasco from there. He said they know how to compete without getting penalties.

"It's in their arena so any after the whistle stuff is in their favor," Coleman said "[The key is] playing hard between the whistles, but staying out of the stuff after the whistles."

Puck drop is 8:07 p.m. CST both Friday and Saturday.