Currently tied for fourth place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, Nebraska Omaha and No. 15 Colorado College could both use a pick-me-up this weekend as they enter the final three weeks of the regular season.
If either team gets the results it’s looking for this weekend, though, they will come at the other side’s expense.
UNO (13-11-6, 10-7-5 WCHA) and CC (15-11-2, 12-9-1) meet Friday and Saturday at Colorado Springs, Colo.’s World Arena. Friday’s game will be televised on CBS Sports Network, but both clubs will have plenty more reasons to perform other than simply looking good in front of a nationwide audience.
With only nine points separating first-place Minnesota from St. Cloud State in the league’s No. 9 spot, the race for home ice in the first round of the WCHA playoffs is still wide open. Little may be decided there until the final day of the regular season, but both CC and UNO know that every point earned matters dearly from this weekend on in.
The Mavericks will be confident coming into this weekend’s series, having taken three of a possible four points at Michigan Tech a week ago. What’s more, UNO freshman goaltender Ryan Massa is hot, having shut the Huskies out in a 4-0 win on Feb. 11.
UNO looked much better in the MTU series than it did a fortnight ago at home to Bemidji State, when the Beavers went 1-0-1 in a two-game set at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center.
CC experienced a similar fate against that same BSU side last weekend, taking only one point from the Beavers in Bemidji, Minn.. The Tigers are now winless in their last three games, going 0-1-2 dating back to a 2-2 tie against arch-rival Denver on Feb. 4.
UNO and CC have met twice before this season, with the teams splitting a pair of games in Omaha in November. Omaha native and CC forward Nick Dineen terrorized his hometown team that weekend, scoring three goals and creating three others in the two tilts.
Dineen has since missed time due to a concussion he sustained earlier in the season, but he could feature this weekend. The Tigers look something of a M.A.S.H. unit at the moment, though, with three players out this weekend, another questionable to play and still another four – including Dineen – listed as probable for this weekend while working to recover from injuries.
UNO’s injury list looks small by comparison. Wingers Andrew Schmit (separated left shoulder) and Zahn Raubenheimer (undisclosed injury) have not traveled to Colorado Springs with the team.
The Mavericks look a healthier squad than CC and have put up better results recently, but in order for UNO to thrive again this weekend, it needs to take and hold onto leads. The Tigers are 1-8 when behind after two periods, but they’re 13-1 when leading after 40 minutes.
Fri., Feb. 17: CC 1-4 UNO (First UNO scorer: Matt White)
Sat., Feb. 18: CC 2-1 UNO (First UNO scorer: Terry Broadhurst)