Mavericks look to improve upon four-game winning streak

Nebraska Omaha currently sits in fourth place in total offense in the WCHA, averaging 3.40 goals per game. (Photo credit: Matthew Semisch)

Nebraska Omaha went unbeaten in each of its first nine meetings with Alabama Huntsville from 1998 until January of last year, leaving many Maverick fans wishing their team could play the Chargers every week.

Since then, though? Not so much.

UAH has been a thorn in UNO’s side lately, taking two wins from the teams’ last three tilts.

What’s particularly frustrating for the Mavericks is that it’s one of the few teams against which UAH has experienced success recently.

Here’s your proof: Since the beginning of the 3010-11 season, the Chargers are 7-64-4 against all opponents. Two of those seven wins have come against UNO.

Both of the teams’ last two series ended in splits. Huntsville picked up a loss and overtime win in Omaha in January of 2011, and the Chargers won a series opener over UNO 3-1 on neutral ice in Nashville last December before being dropped 6-2 the following night.

Things are very different this time around, though. Going into its first game as a ranked team in more than a year, UNO (6-3-1, 4-1-1 WCHA) is a much talented team this season than UAH, and the Mavericks are looking to extend their current four-game winning streak.

Huntsville, on the other hand, is struggling.

It’s not for want of trying – UAH has been more than competitive in most of its games so far – but the Chargers are 1-10-0 this season as one of only two current Division I independent teams. Penn State (6-3-0) is the other.

UAH is 0-3-1 in its four games so far this season against teams from the WCHA, a league that may choose in a meeting in January to bring the Chargers in from the Division I wilderness.

Huntsville has only scored 14 goals in its first 12 games of the campaign, though, so even the team’s top scorers aren’t putting up huge numbers. The current leader on UAH’s scoring chart, sophomore defenseman Graeme Strukoff, has a goal and four assists to his name so far this season.

The team’s leading goalscorer, with three tallies so far, is sophomore forward Kyle Lysaught.

Senior goaltender John Griggs has led the goaltending corps for the Chargers, having played in all but one of UAH’s games this season. Griggs comes into this weekend’s series with a .909 save percentage, impressive given his team’s troubles on the ice.

UAH certainly misses Clarke Saunders, though, a netminder that transferred to North Dakota before the start of this season and the goalkeeper that frustrated the Mavericks so much the past two years.

Maybe it’s unfair to speculate about what’s no longer there, but as Saunders has quickly become UND’s No. 1 goaltender, you have to wonder what sort of effect Saunders might have had on this season’s Charger team.

UNO has hit a richer vein of form lately, and the Mavericks are on a four-game winning streak following sweeps of Michigan Tech and Minnesota Duluth.

The Mavericks are yet to sink their teeth into the meatiest section of their 2012-13 schedule, but nobody can complain about UNO’s play of late.

The team is fourth in the WCHA in scoring offense, and the team has spread the wealth – 13 Mavericks have scored in UNO’s 10 games thus far.

Senior goaltender John Faulkner has had the hot hands in the cages for UNO lately. He has started in and won each of the team’s last four games, and he comes into the UAH series boasting a .915 save percentage and having given up little more than two goals per game.

Following its series with the Chargers, UNO will be on the road the following two weekends to face fourth-ranked Minnesota and No. 12 St. Cloud State.

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