Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography
Last year in January, the Mavericks of Nebraska Omaha came to Ralph Engelstad Arena, and did something no other opponent was able to do last season. They beat UND on the road. They did so with six goals on 13 total shots compared to 26 shots on Omaha goaltender Isaiah Saville resulting in only three goals conceded. They also scored all of those goals at even strength.
Why are we looking back at this game?
Well, the Mavericks won each game in two completely different ways. The Saturday night win this season was due in large part to their play on special teams, converting three of their five total power plays, on route to a 5-4 victory over the Fighting Hawks. Isaiah Saville did more than enough to win making 43 saves in total and far outplayed Adam Scheel on the evening.
Beyond that, this game showed what happens to UND when a team takes advantage of their inefficiencies. That is, multiple times, Omaha struck on sound defense leading to a turnover and a quick chance the other way. The opening goal of the Saturday game scored by Chayse Primeau on a breakaway when Kirby Proctor fired a perfect pass to him as he was behind a UND defense all staring into the offensive zone. These Mavericks are built to capitalize on inefficiencies in any team, and when they are humming, they take the tinniest mistake your team makes and put them on the scoreboard as a goal for them.
Why did this weekend matter so much for these Mavericks?
Well, it was a measuring stick series for them. That is, they played with the Fighting Hawks and were able to exploit all of the small weaknesses in UND’s game on Saturday after a tough Friday night loss. They showed that UND is on their level, and they are on theirs. Regarding the national tournament picture, that is not fully known yet, as we do not know how teams will be selected. What we do know, is that Omaha, as built, is a contender to win the NCHC this year, after Mike Gabinet rebuilt the roster, relying on up-tempo players who can also defend.
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