The Marquette Royales are returning to the ice this week, as they will face their Michigan rival the Tri City Icehawks in a three-game series.

Marquette is coming off the bye week, but dropped two of three at home against the Illiana Blackbirds Jan. 9-11. Questionable officiating (five of seven ejections had no penalty minutes assigned) during Friday’s 6-3 loss led to three players suspended for Saturday’s game. Marquette also dropped the second game 3-1.

After they returned, Marquette was able to win the third game 4-2 behind Anthony Casaletto’s two goals. Two of the suspended players — Todd Cooper and Bryan Larson — connected for another goal.

The Icehawks also faced the Blackbirds last week, but was swept at home. Tri City held it close with a 3-2 loss on Friday, but only put 16 shots on goal in a 5-0 shutout on Saturday. They had a 2-1 lead on Sunday before the Blackbirds came back for the series sweep.

Scott Conlin leads the Icehawks with 17 goals and 16 assists. He has four game winners as well. Terrance Gillard and Luke Zarzycki also have double digit assists.

Cameron Ashley has also been on a tear for Tri City. The five-foot-ten forward leads the team in points per game after last playing with Fargo. Ashley hasn’t played against the Royales this season.

Tri City has been a consistent pain for Marquette. They forced the first overtime game in Royales history and spoiled Marquette’s divisional championship banner ceremony by defeating the home team 5-3. It was the only home loss of the season.

Divisional standings are also on the line in the homestretch of the regular season. Both teams have a 11-15-1 records with 27 games played for 23 points. Tri City holds the tiebreaker with a 4-2 season series advantage.

Both teams could use the sweep to help slingshot themselves towards third-placed Wooster. The Oilers have 38 points, but played six additional games. Wins are two points each, that advantage could be cut from 15 points to just three.

Games start at 8 p.m. on Friday, 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday. All games can be viewed online through MSBN.com.

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