Five things we learned from the St. Cloud State series

(Photo credit: Matthew Semisch)

(Photo credit: Matthew Semisch)

Nebraska Omaha picked up another two points against St. Cloud State but perhaps deserved all four on offer; Anthony Stolarz is as unlucky as any UNO player in recent memory; and the Mavericks looked good again on ice 15 feet wider than what they have at home.
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UNO is off to a good start facing the meat of its schedule.
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Considering all but one of the Mavericks’ opponents between the end of November through to the middle of January are currently ranked, not many UNO fans would be unhappy if their team came out of what’s undoubtedly its toughest stretch of the season at around the .500 mark.

No big complaints so far, then, and least of all when UNO’s record is still at 10-5-1 overall and 6-3-1 in the WCHA.

The Mavericks shared the spoils with fourth-ranked Minnesota in Minneapolis on Nov. 30 (a 3-2 win for UNO) and Dec. 1 (3-2 to the Golden Gophers), and UNO picked up another two points last weekend at No. 17 St. Cloud State. UNO won the series opener once again in a 6-5 thriller on Friday before unluckily dropping a 2-1 decision the following night against the Huskies.

That leaves the Mavericks in pretty good shape ahead of this week’s home set against Minnesota State. It’s a series that won’t be short on storylines – MSU first-year head coach Mike Hastings left his job as an associate head coach at UNO when the head position in Mankato, Minn. opened up, and the purple Mavericks have won each of their last six games – and MSU will be UNO’s third nationally-ranked opponent in a row.

UNO’s only opponent through to mid-January that isn’t currently ranked is Colorado College, which fell out of the USCHO.com Division I poll Monday.
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The Mavericks nearly came away from St. Cloud State with a sweep.
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It’s not the end of the world, but UNO’s can – some might say ought to – consider itself unfortunate that it only picked up two of the four points on offer in St. Cloud, Minn. last weekend.

The Huskies salvaged a series split with their 2-1 win on Saturday at the friendly confines of the National Hockey Center, but SCSU largely has the video booth to thank for that. Two third-period goals for UNO in the game’s third period were wiped out – the first for goaltender interference, and then the second was kicked into the net – and Jonny Brodzinski’s goal with 9:45 left stood up as the game-winner.

Again, though, it’s not too big a deal at this stage. With Saturday’s loss, UNO fell to a tie for fifth place in the WCHA on 13 points, but the Mavericks are only three points behind first-place Denver and has two games in hand on every team currently above UNO on the league table.
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Stolarz can’t seem to catch a break.
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When the freshman Stolarz was picked to start Nov. 24’s game against Alabama Huntsville, the idea was to give the newcomer’s confidence a lift after having lost each of his first three games as a Maverick.

It worked – UNO won that game 8-0 – but following Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Huskies, it appears as though we’re back to Stolarz being the unlucky netminder. In picking up that loss, his record fell to 1-4-0, but all four losses were by a single goal, and he has never conceded more than three goals in any of his appearances in a Maverick sweater.

His overall goals-against average is 2.16 per game.

That ought to be good enough to allow him to pick up more wins than losses. The wins will come, though, and I’m sure he would be fine with the team in front of him scoring more goals at the opposite end of the ice when he’s out there.
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Matt White thrived on the big NHC ice.
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Not to belittle Ryan Walters’s two goals and two assists that helped see UNO past its hosts on Friday, it’s also worth mentioning that UNO co-captain White had big performances both nights against the Huskies.

White picked up a goal and two assists in the 6-5 win over SCSU on Friday – including his goal and one assist in a hectic first period where a total of five pucks found the backs of the nets – and he gave the visitors another big contribution the following night with a shorthanded goal.

White and many of his speedier teammates looked very much at home on the big NHC ice sheet, which is 15 feet wider than what UNO fans are more used to seeing their team on at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center. The Mavericks generally look handy on bigger rinks – almost tailor-made for them – and that might be worth keeping in mind when UNO eventually builds its own arena.
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UNO was afforded little time to work on its power play.
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SCSU played a pair of very clean games in the eyes of the WCHA officials on hand for last weekend’s games, allowing UNO only one power play opportunity in the entire 120 minutes of play.

All six of the visitors’ goals on Friday came in a game where the Mavericks were held to zero chances to play with a man advantage since a game on Oct. 14, 2011 in which both UNO and Alaska Anchorage went 0-for-0 on the power play.

The Mavericks were unable to capitalize on their only power play opportunity in Saturday’s 2-1 loss. However, UNO’s only counter of the game did come while the visitors were shorthanded, with White burying a shot past Faragher in the final minute of the game’s first period while UNO was playing a man down.

QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND
“We were coming for four points. That’s what we expect. So we’re disappointed with the outcome, but not disappointed with the team. All the boys played really well.”
–White assessing UNO’s performance on a weekend where the Mavericks picked up two points but came close to coming away with all four on offer.

HERE’S MY NUMBER, SO STAT ME MAYBE
Some other notable figures to mull over from UNO’s only meetings of the regular season against SCSU:

  • 3: SCSU forward David Morley picked up three goals – and an assist, to boot – in Friday’s 6-5 loss to UNO. That performance was enough to earn him WCHA rookie of the week honors, but clearly he and Stolarz could swap tales about being unlucky.
  • 7: Following that win last Friday, UNO is now 7-0-1 in series openers so far this season.
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