UNO will better understand what it’s working with when faced with stronger, fresher opposition; the ‘Sesame Street’ line clicked; and some fans aren’t happy about the Mavericks’ ‘new’ uniforms.
UNO wasn’t picking on someone its own size.
Preseason exhibitions are a nice way for college hockey teams to shake off some summer rust before heading into games where the wins, losses and ties count. Those exhibition tests don’t tell you much about your team, though, and Nebraska Omaha’s 4-1 win over Lethbridge on Monday was no exception to that.
The Mavericks outshot the visiting Pronghorns heavily, 49-10, but, with respect to Lethbridge, that was to be expected. In UL’s three-game stateside tour that also included blowout losses against Minnesota (7-0) and Minnesota State (7-1), the Pronghorns were outshot 179-37 over the 180 minutes of play
As for UL’s game in Omaha, Monday’s first period was particularly knackering. UNO went back to the room after the opening 20 minutes having opened up a 3-0 lead and attempting 37 shots. Twenty-two of those made their way either to or past UL goaltender Dylan Tait.
It wasn’t the prettiest hockey game anyone’s ever witnessed.
Again, preseason games aren’t expected to be, but nobody is pretending that UNO’s performance on Saturday will see them through against the stronger opponents that it will face during the regular season.
The Mavericks got all the scoring it needed on Monday in the game’s opening frame, but UNO head coach Dean Blais later told reporters that he expects more from his team than what he saw.
“I thought our transition from defense to offense, offense to defense and backchecking fundamentals weren’t very good,” Blais said. “It should be…we’ve been trying to get the guys to move the puck and execute.
““I probably thought that our players getting three goals right away was almost too easy,” Blais said. “Not that the game’s over after that — I just thought we didn’t have the passion we need, or that we’re going to need, for sure.
“I probably thought that our players getting three goals right away was almost too easy,” Blais said. “Not that the game’s over after that — I just thought we didn’t have the passion we need, or that we’re going to need, for sure.”
He continued: “I didn’t think we generated a whole lot of offense with each other. We had some good plays individually, but not team plays. Not rushes down the ice with defensemen joining in. I thought we cycled the puck well at times and got some offense off it, but not enough.”
UNO’s second line stole the show on Monday.
Heading into Monday’s exhibition, most UNO fans’ eyes were on Maverick captain Matt White to see what he could do as he began his new life as such, moving from his normal spot on the wing to the center’s position.
In the end, though, it was UNO’s second line of sophomore Dominic Zombo and juniors Brock Montpetit and Zahn Raubenheimer that stole the show. The trio was responsible for UNO’s first and third goals, and all three players picked up two assits on the night – Zombo and Raubenheimer both had a goal and an assist, and Montpetit finished the game with a pair of helpers.
The ‘Sesame Street’ line, as some fans have started calling it because of the players’ numbers (12, 13 and 14), was arguably the Mavericks’ brightest spark on Monday. UNO’s defense did limit Lethbridge to 11 shots on goal, but, considering how gassed the Pronghorns were, a number much higher than that might have set some alarm bells ringing.
UNO’s power play picked up from where it left off last season.
The Mavericks’ power play was horrific in the 2011-12 season, finishing at the bottom of the WCHA in that category with a 17.1 percent success rate. Unfortunately for UNO, those problems carried over into Monday’s game.
UNO ended the game having converted on only one of its nine power plays, as just one of the Mavericks’ 19 shots when playing with the man advantage found its way past Tait.
Speaking after the game, however, Blais said that, for a preseason game, those figures didn’t leave him feeling too concerned.
“Not yet,” Blais said. “Along with everything else (tonight), nothing was really good.”
Uniformgate has entered its second season.
Ever since UNO unveiled its new streamlined steer head logo a year ago, apart from for one fundraiser, the new badge hasn’t featured on the Maverick hockey team’s sweaters. ‘Mavericks’ was printed on the front last season, and ‘Omaha’ adorns the team’s home whites this time around.
This has left a section of UNO’s fanbase unhappy. A handful of members of the Mavpuck message board took to that website to voice their opinions, railing on the school’s athletic department brass for not making sufficient use of one of the school’s own logos.
It’s an absolute non-issue for me and ought to be just that for everyone else, and the sweater design isn’t likely to change again so soon just because some fans don’t like it.
That said, for better or for worse, this may remain a point of contention for those fans for a while yet. Maybe they should have a look at UNO’s other sports – all of them appear to be going with ‘Omaha’ or ‘Mavericks’ scripts on the front of their uniforms, and Blais told me Monday night that ‘Omaha’ will be on the front of the road hockey sweaters, too – if they’re serious about forcing a change in UNO’s ongoing campaign marketing itself as Omaha’s team.
HERE’S MY NUMBER, SO STAT ME MAYBE
Some figures to think about before UNO enters regular season play against Army on Friday in Kansas City, Mo.:
- 1: UNO only conceded one goal to Lethbridge on Monday. Pronghorn forward Daniel Iwanski supplied the visitors’ consolation goal 1:10 into the game’s third period., beating UNO freshman netminder Anthony Stolarz.
- 5: To Stolarz’s credit, he made more saves than UNO’s other two goalies made in their own 20 minutes of playing time on Monday. Senior John Faulkner stopped two shots in the first period, and sophomore Dayn Belfour pushed aside three in the game’s middle frame.
- 35: Monday’s third period was a chippy affair, with the two teams combining for 35 penalty minutes in that 20-minute stretch. Most of the penalties were the results of a line brawl at 11:54 of the period that saw both teams send three players to the penalty boxes. Lethbridge forward Mark Hall was served with a 10-minute game misconduct call for his participation in the fracas.