Alabama Huntsville showed what it can – and should be able to – offer a conference by way of its fantastic performance on Friday; Nebraska Omaha’s Ryan Walters has been red-hot the past few weeks; and the Mavericks have put themselves in a good place ahead of a very set of games.
Friday’s performance was a lot more telling than what we saw Saturday.
You can’t really take much from the now No. 13 UNO’s 8-0 win over visiting Alabama Huntsville last Saturday. UNO scored five goals in the third period that were just stat-padders and unnecessary to the night’s result, and a rush of blood to the head from UAH’s Sebastian Geoffrion near the end of the first period ended up taking the Chargers out of the game much earlier on.
Friday’s 3-2 win for the Mavericks, however, was much more telling. Huntsville did what it has done over the vast majority of its games so far this season: It’s far from being the most talented team in the country, but it’s work ethic keeps it in games.
That’s what happened Friday night, and, especially after UAH’s Frank Misuraca scored a power play goal 1:24 into the game’s third period, UNO coaches, players and fans alike were unable to breathe a sigh of relief until the final horn went.
The Mavericks were a little rusty Friday, having been off the week before, but that close win over the Chargers will have left everyone in the UNO camp with something to think about: They’re going to face more competitive teams than UAH most weeks, but it may not meet many teams that work as hard as the Chargers usually do and did again on Friday.
UNO’s power play is finally back to where it needs to be.
UNO’s power play was the worst in the WCHA last season and didn’t set the world on fire at the beginning of this campaign, either, but it has really come around lately.
Over their last five games, the Mavericks have scored nine goals while playing with a numerical advantage. OK, three of those tallies came on Saturday in the 8-0 win over UAH, and one of them came in that five-goal third period long after the game ceased to be as a contest. However, two of them, coming 22 seconds apart in the third period, were daggers that ultimately put the game to bed.
UNO’s power play is now sitting in fourth place in the WCHA, having capitalized on 22 percent of its chances so far this season.
What’s more, UNO’s penalty kill is, per usual, also performing very well. The Mavericks’ PK units are rated second in the league (86.8 percent) only to Minnesota, which has has only conceded four power play goals in the current campaign.
Ryan Walters is on a serious roll.
It took the junior forward Walters a while to find his goal-scoring touch this season, but he’s been on fire lately, scoring in each of his last five games.
His line along with sophomores Dominic Zombo and Josh Archibald has been arguably UNO’s best thus far. Combined, the line has 16 goals and 23 assists through the Mavericks’ first 12 games of the season.
Walters in particular will be looking forward to this weekend’s series at Minnesota, having grown up in Rosemount, a southern suburb of Minneapolis. In all, there are six players on this season’s UNO team that hail from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
UAH, when it’s on its game, can play with anyone.
It was mentioned before, but it bears repeating: UAH’s performance on Friday was, beyond any doubt, the best from any visiting team that has come to CenturyLink so far this season.
You can preface that in your own thoughts by saying that UNO was a bit flat having not played the weekend before, and that’s fair enough. You cannot, however, refuse to give the Chargers all the credit in the world for what they did last night. UAH held on until the clock hit triple-zeroes at the end of the third period, and a lesser team than what Blais is working with this season would have lost that game.
UAH is only 1-12-1 this season, but you have to throw its record out the window. Considering that UAH head coach Kurt Kleinendorst is working with a team small on both size and talent, he has nevertheless developed his club into a bunch that works its socks off to get the success it does earn.
Might UAH have much in terms of wins to show for its hard work at the end of the season? Probably not, but Kleinendorst’s men has and will continue to give every team it faces a very stern challenge indeed.
UNO is in great shape ahead of a hellish upcoming slate.
UNO has had the 46th strongest schedule in the country according to the most recent KRACH Ratings, but you can only beat what’s placed in front of you, and six wins in a row is six wins in a row.
It’s a good thing the Mavericks are on that roll, as well, when you consider what’s coming up over the next month and a half:
- Nov. 30 and Dec. 1: At No. 3 Minnesota
- Dec. 7-8: At No. 14 St. Cloud State
- Dec. 14-15: Minnesota State, which just swept Wisconsin on the road
- Dec. 29-30: At No. 16 Quinnipiac
- Jan. 4-5: No. 18 Colorado College
- Jan. 11-12: At No. 5 Denver
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND
“I think we deserved better. Honestly, a save here, a save there and I think maybe it’s a little bit of a different outcome. [Nebraska-Omaha is] a good team. They’re a very good team and they had a lot of power-play opportunities tonight, and we were right there in the end, but we don’t play the game to be close.”
–Kleinendorst on his Chargers’ valiant performance on Friday against the homestanding Mavericks.
HERE’S MY NUMBER, SO STAT ME MAYBE
Some other notable figures to mull over from the first Michigan Tech series of the season:
- 1: UNO freshman goaltender Anthony Stolarz picked up his first shutout in a Maverick sweater last Saturday, stopping all 20 shots that UAH managed to get on target.
- 4: Junior forward Brock Montpetit picked up four assists for UNO in Saturday’s game, thus bringing his total for the season so far to 11.