Five things we learned from the Icebreaker tournament

Nebraska Omaha players celebrate the Mavericks’ second goal in their 3-2 loss to Notre Dame in the Icebreaker tournament final on Saturday. (Photo credit: Michelle Bishop)

UNO’s ‘Sesame Street’ line starred again for the Mavericks in Kansas City; Anthony Stolarz recovered well from a shaky start; and one of the NBC Sports Network’s analysts made a comment that should worry Maverick fans.

UNO’s second line was, once again, the Mavericks’ best.
Just as it had in UNO’s 4-1 exhibition win over Lethbridge a week ago, the Mavericks’ second line shined in the Icebreaker.

Dominic Zombo, Brock Montpetit and Zahn Raubenheimer contributed to each of UNO’s first three goals in the 5-1 semifinal over Army on Friday, and they were also in on Michael Young’s goal in the 3-2 loss over Notre Dame in the tournament final the following night.

Raubenheimer was also on the ice for UNO defenseman Andrej Sustr’s goal against the Irish.

The so-called ‘Sesame Street’ line looked exhausted by the end of the game, though. It was seemingly always on the ice, and the minutes they racked up took their toll in the end. It was another good performance for those three players, but UNO fans will be hoping to see other players step up more to keep the team from relying too much on one line.

Bear in mind, though, there’s still plenty of time for UNO head coach Dean Blais to tinker with his lines and see who works best with who at any given time.

Even some of the defensemen have looked handy helping their team bomb forward up the ice. It’s worth mentioning that freshman blueliner Nick Seeler was a fantastic plus-four in the semifinal win over Army.
Zombo looks much improved so far this season.
Zombo was one of UNO’s fringe players as a freshman in the 2011-12 season, posting only two goals and one assist in 32 games, but he has exploded back onto the scene early in his second campaign as a Maverick.

The sophomore forward from Ballwin, Mo. only has one point so far this season – an assist on Seeler’s goal against Army – but he has looked a much more capable player playing alongside Montpetit and Raubenheimer.

Raubenheimer (a goal and two assists so far) and Montpetit (no goals, two assists) are the sexier names on that line, but the hope in UNO’s camp is that Zombo’s numbers will improve while he’s on the ice with his junior linemates.
Anthony Stolarz recovered well from a rough start on Saturday.
Stolarz, a highly-touted freshman goaltender and 2012 second-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, had a dubious official start to his collegiate campaign.

He conceded a fluky goal on the first shot on target he faced on Saturday against Notre Dame. An Anders Lee shot was tipped high and wide of the UNO net by Notre Dame forward Peter Schneider, and the puck ricocheted off the end wall and back out front, where Schneider swatted the puck home from midair 1:14 into the tournament final.

Stolarz was solid the rest of the way, though, eventually finishing the game with 23 saves. It doesn’t appear as though he has cemented the No. 1 job already, but, if he stays for four years like it has continuously been said he plans to, there’s no hurry at this stage.
UNO held its own against a stronger opponent.
As UNO was always going to play either fourteenth-ranked Notre Dame or No. 20 Maine on the second day of the Icebreaker, few expected the Mavericks to finish the weekend with two wins. They only got one in the end, but they can be proud of the way they performed in both contests.

Just as it had in the exhibition win over Lethbridge, UNO jumped out to an early 3-0 lead Friday against the Black Knights at Sprint Center, and Army never fully found its way back into the game.

UNO also performed well against Notre Dame, and the Fighting Irish weren’t allowed to breathe easily until just before the final horn. Notre Dame is a more talented team, but UNO outshot the Irish 30-26, played a more disciplined game, and held ND to one shot and zero goals on the Irish’s two power play opportunities.
Pierre McGuire’s remark to Sustr was out of line.
Ahead of Saturday’s Icebreaker final, NBC Sports Network analyst and former scout Pierre McGuire interviewed Sustr in the bowels of the Sprint Center. One comment that McGuire made near the end of the chat ought to leave UNO fans feeling somewhat uncomfortable.

“Find a banker,” McGuire told the UNO junior defenseman, who has been tracked by many NHL scouts during his time in Omaha, “Because you’re going to need it next year when you’re playing for money.”

Sustr’s size (6’8″, 225 pounds) and improving hands and feet have caught the eye of scouts from many NHL teams, and no one that has seem him play for the Mavericks harbors any doubts that he will be playing professionally at some point.

He is still eligible to play in college for almost another two years, however, so UNO fans who want Sustr to stay in Omaha as long as possible shouldn’t be happy with McGuire’s remark.

Some figures to consider about ahead of UNO’s official home debut against Northern Michigan on Friday:

  • 1: The Mavericks’ power play struggled on the weekend, converting on only one of its nine opportunities. UNO’s lone power play marker in Kansas City was the Mavericks’ first goal there, with Raubenheimer finding the Army net 4:31 into Friday’s semifinal.
  • 2: Two UNO players made their way onto the Icebreaker all-tournament team. Sustr and Montpetit were the Mavericks’ representatives on the six-player list, and the other four came from Notre Dame. Irish goaltender Steven Summerhays was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
  • 68: The Mavericks outshot both of its Icebreaker opponents, eventually putting 68 shots on goal over the two games. UNO outshot Army 38-18 in Friday’s second semifinal, and the Mavericks had 30 shots in Saturday’s final to Notre Dame’s 26.
  • 250: The victory over Army was the 250th win in the history of UNO’s hockey program. The Mavericks’ first win came on Oct. 26, 1997, when UNO won 6-1 at Air Force.

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