Five things we learned from the (first) Michigan Tech series

John Faulkner, who started in both of UNO’s games last weekend at Michigan Tech, now boasts a 4-0-1 record this season. (Photo credit: Matthew Semisch)

One of Zahn Raubenheimer’s four goals last weekend was the team’s most valuable of the season to date; Many Mavericks made up for Matt White’s absence; and UNO finally scored another power play goal.

Raubenheimer’s second goal Friday meant more than anything Tech did Saturday.
UNO junior forward Zahn Raubenheimer was absolutely on fire last weekend, scoring two goals in as many games over Michigan Tech in a sweep of the Huskies at Houghton, Mich.’s John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

It was his second of those four goals, however, that meant more than the rest.

Late in Friday’s third period, and with MTU on a power play, Raubenheimer scored the biggest goal of UNO’s season to date. Making a few nice moves, he maneuvered around the Husky defensemen in his way before finding a gap in Tech goaltender Kevin Genoe’s equipment to score the game-winner with 70 seconds remaining in the game.

The shorthanded winner was a colossal back-breaker for Tech, who went on to lose Friday’s game 2-1 and lost Saturday’s rematch by a 5-3 scoreline that flattered the Huskies.

Raubenheimer ended up netting the winner in Saturday’s game, too, but that one served more as a flourish to cap the dynamite weekend that he had than it was quite the sort of impact goal that his second on Friday was.
Starting John Faulkner in both games was the correct decision.
UNO freshman goaltender Anthony Stolarz had been the Mavericks’ Saturday goalie of note so far this season, so, I’ll be honest, I was surprised to see him on the bench in the Mavericks’ second game against Tech.

It was the right choice on the part of head coach Dean Blais and his staff, though, to go with the senior Faulkner both nights. Stolarz is 0-3 so far this season, and Faulkner had only given up five goals in four games all-time against MTU, including Friday’s 2-1 win in which Faulkner made 21 saves.

I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel a little bit bad for Stolarz, and I still feel that he’s faced tougher tests – not exceptionally tougher, but tougher nonetheless – so far this season than Faulkner has. It gets to a point where coaches have to go with the hot hand(s?), though, and that meant Faulkner was UNO’s go-to man in the cage for both games.

Is that fair to Stolarz? Not entirely – the losses to Notre Dame and Northern Michigan in particular, I thought, you couldn’t really blame him for – but it’s not like he isn’t going to have more chances to make his case to become the Mavericks’ No. 1 netminder.
UNO didn’t need Matt White as much as many feared.
Maverick junior forward and alternate captain Matt White stayed home from last weekend’s series in Houghton due to what Dave Ahlers and Terry Leahy said on the games’ broadcasts was an academic issue. Blais has said, however, that White is expected to be back on the ice for this week’s home series with Minnesota Duluth.

Only a fool would suggest that this UNO team isn’t a weaker squad without White, the team’s only player that reached the 40-point mark last season. The Mavericks’ other weapons picked up the pace in his stead at Tech, though, ensuring that White’s absence didn’t equal losses of games.

It can be argued that UNO would have missed White even more if he was at the top of the team’s scoring chart, which he might not have been anyway, given RAubenheimer’s monster weekend in Houghton. The fact remains, though, that the Mavericks proved last weekend just how many weapons they possess and what they can do when they get on a roll.
The Mavericks’ power play finally capitalized on one of its opportunities.
It happened, people. It really happened.

UNO has lived a nightmare when playing with a numerical advantage so far this season – and all of last season – but while the problem isn’t totally fixed, the Mavericks at least made a dent in it last weekend.

Ryan Walters’s second-period goal on Saturday was notable for more than just that it gave the Mavericks a lead they wouldn’t relinquish (although Raubenheimer’s goal 25 seconds later eventually proved to be the game-winner). Walters’s was also UNO’s first power play goal in its last 18 tries.

That’s not to say the power play’s magically fixed now – UNO’s still only running at a 3-for-30 clip – but that doesn’t mean UNO fans weren’t relieved to see their team finally find the net while playing 5-on-4 again.
UNO is to Michigan Tech what Bemidji State is to UNO.
Don’t laugh. It’s true.

For as much as the Mavericks are finding it just about impossible to beat BSU – one in their last 12 and none in the last eight in Omaha – Michigan Tech’s having just as hard a time dealing with UNO.

The Mavericks are now 7-2-1 all-time over the Huskies, and 5-0-1 in Houghton.

Put to one side Tech’s two wins at UNO in Dec. 1997 – halfway through the inaugural season of the Mavericks’ program – and the Huskies haven’t beaten UNO in Omaha, either.

Those are facts that certainly won’t be lost on head coach Mel Pearson’s Tech club when it comes to Omaha in February for the teams’ third and fourth meetings of the season.

“It was really tough, last minute on our power play. It was a big save I needed to make and I didn’t make it there. It’s a tough way to lose.”
Genoe on Raubenheimer’s shorthanded goal – his second tally of the night – that lifted UNO to its 2-1 win over Tech on Friday.

Some other notable figures to mull over from the first Michigan Tech series of the season:

  • 2: The only two WCHA teams UNO has swept on the road so far are Michigan Tech (last weekend) and, at the time, No. 13 Minnesota (Oct. 15-16, 2010).
  • 43: UNO’s 43 shots on goal in Saturday’s 5-3 win were the Mavericks most in any game thus far this season. Not that Tech didn’t have plenty of its own chances; Faulkner made 24 saves Saturday to go along with his 22 from the night before.
  • 100: Senior defenseman Bryce Aneloski featured in the 100th game of his Maverick career on Friday. David Brisson, Scott Parse and Dan Charleston still share the program’s all-time appearance lead of 159 games played.

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