BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Niagara won 2-0 in an exhibition game at Canisius this past Saturday. This weekend the local college hockey teams drop the puck for their regular seasons on the road.

Canisius travels to Pegula Ice Arena to face off with Penn State on Friday night, while Niagara opens at Omaha. Both series conclude with games Saturday.

The Golden Griffins started last season with a 4-1 win at Penn State before dropping the second game, 5-2. The Nittany Lions won the previous three meetings in the all-time series, which began with a meeting at Harborcenter in 2015.

Canisius brings back 19 players from a team that finished second in the Atlantic Hockey Association at 13-11-2 (16-16-3 overall). Among the 11 newcomers, seven are transfer additions.

“We have a lot returning. We have a lot coming into the program,” Canisius coach Trevor Large said in a video season preview. “It should be a really exciting year for us. We’re trying to position ourself to have a lot of success every year. It’s a big challenge in Atlantic Hockey. It’s a great conference. But our plan is to have more success than we did last year.”

Predicted to finish fifth in the preseason Atlantic Hockey poll, Canisius is led by goaltender Jacob Barczewski. A preseason player of the year favorite in the conference, Barczewski is coming off a year in which he ranked 14th nationally with a .923 save percentage, third in AHA a 2.42 goals-against average, and participated in the New York Islanders development camp.

Graduate forward J.D. Pogue, senior forward Keaton Mastrodonato, and senior defenseman David Melaragni are team captains. Pogue is the ninth player in program history, and first in 10 years, to wear the “C” in consecutive seasons.

Niagara was picked ninth out of 10 teams in the preseason poll after going 11-22-3 last year and placing eighth in the AHA with a 10-13-3 mark. The Purple Eagles are 4-3-1 all-time against Omaha, but lost the only meeting in the past 21 seasons, 10-1 in 2006. Niagara is seeking its first winning season under sixth-year coach Jason Lammers, who has a 58-93-18 career record.

Niagara’s first home games at Dwyer Arena are next weekend against AIC. Canisius plays at Ferris State next weekend before its Oct. 18 home opener against RPI. Niagara and Canisius meet Jan. 27-28 at Harborcenter.

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Jonah Bronstein joined the News 4 roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Read more of his work here.