One of UNO’s most heralded newcomers leaves the team after one semester; another Maverick is making his case for national MVP honors; and Colorado College allowed something against UNO the Tigers hadn’t given up all season.
1.) Anthony Stolarz was not long for this city.
It’s barely been 24 hours since the news came out that the freshman goaltender Stolarz was leaving the program, but already I feel as though the story’s been done to death.
Some of that is on him – Stolarz has not responded to media requests since the story broke – but Maverick head coach Dean Blais suggested to the Omaha World-Herald‘s Rob White Monday that Stolarz’s decision may have come down to a perceived lack of playing time, and that he wanted to start in UNO’s 3-1 win over Colorado College last Saturday.
Stolarz didn’t get the nod, though, with Blais instead opting to start senior netminder John Faulkner.
“It was one of our most important games of the season, based on a lot of things, and I’m going to play our senior goaltender,” Blais told White. “I think it was (the) right move. I don’t regret that decision.”
Stolarz is expected to sign with the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights, a team that put one of its goaltenders on waivers today. The Jackson, N.J. native Stolarz ended his time at UNO with a 2-5-0 record, having started seven games and appearing in relief in an eighth.
2.) Ryan Walters supplied more fuel for his Hobey Baker campaign.
The junior forward Walters is UNO’s first serious Hobey Baker Award hopeful since Scott Parse was a top-ten finalist for the national MVP award in both 2006 and 2007, and Walters further convinced the college hockey world of his credentials with his performances last weekend against CC.
A Rosemount, Minn. native and one-time Minnesota commit, Walters picked up a goal and three assists in the Mavericks’ 8-4 win over the visiting Tigers on Friday. He wasn’t to be denied on Saturday, either, picking up an assist on a third-period goal from Josh Archibald in a rematch from the night before.
Walters has 13 goals so far this season, which leads all scorers in Division I, and his 20 assists put him fourth in the United States in that category. He’s particularly hot at the moment, with nine points
(five goals, four assists) in his last six games.
He is averaging 1.50 points per game so far in the 2012-13 campaign.
Parse, the only other real Hobey Baker hopeful in UNO’s history, posted 61 points (20 G, 41 A) in the 2005-06 season, and scored 52 points (24 G, 28 A) in 2006-07.
3.) Josh Archibald also had a fantastic weekend.
Not to be outdone by Walters – this last weekend, anyway – the sophomore forward Archibald earned one of the two spots for the WCHA’s offensive players of the week thanks to his performances against CC.
Archibald netted the first hat trick of his collegiate career in Friday’s 8-4 win over the Tigers, and he picked up his fourth goal of the weekend the following night in a win that clinched a sweep of the two-game weekend set for the Mavericks.
A Brainerd, Minn. native, Archibald found the net on half of his shots (four of eight) in those two games.
Archibald, a sixth-round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2011 NHL draft, is third on the Maverick scoring chart so far this season with 11 goals and 10 assists for 21 points.
4.) The Mavericks picked up timely shorthanded goals yet again.
Not that there’s such a thing as untimely shorthanded goals – unless you’re the team conceding them as opposed to scoring them – but two shorthanded goals UNO picked up against the Tigers went some way towards the Mavericks earning a sweep of the teams’ series.
Archibald’s late shorthanded goal in Friday’s 8-4 win was largely cosmetic – CC had been out of the game for a while and was largely outplayed despite scoring four goals of the Tigers’ own – apart from that it clinched his hat trick on the night.
However, senior defenseman Bryce Aneloski scored a shortie of his own in Saturday’s second period that tied the game at 1-1 and took away the momentum that CC had built up through all of the night’s first period and through most of the second.
Aneloski’s goal, which came with 1:32 left in the second period, was UNO’s fifth of the season, which is tied with the Tigers’ five this season for the most in the WCHA. What’s more, it was UNO’s second shorthanded goal of the weekend and the second such tally CC had given up all season.
The Tigers had gone through the first eight weeks of the season without giving up a shorthanded goal, but Archibald and Aneloski put paid to that streak.
5.) UNO is in good shape as it nears the end of its toughest stretch of the season.
Following this weekend’s series at ninth-ranked Denver, No. 13 UNO will at long last be done with the roughest stretch of its season, and it has so far come away fairly unscathed.
Stolarz’s departure isn’t a major loss in the short-term – although it may prove to be a problem later on considering Faulkner is in his final season of eligibility and the only other active goalie on the roster is the underused sophomore Dayn Belfour – and junior forward Brock Montpetit for a few more weeks yet with multiple leg injuries, but Stolarz and Montpetit have so far been the only notable losses for varying amounts of time.
The team’s results on the ice have also been good. Save for CC, all of UNO’s opponents since Nov. 30 are among the nation’s top 20 teams in this week’s USCHO.com D-I poll, and the Mavericks are 5-5-0 since then. Most teams would snatch your arm off if you offered them a .500 record against five teams of that quality played in quick succession, so UNO fans ought to be happy with the place their team is in as it heads west to face Denver.
That, by the way, is first place in the WCHA. UNO has played two more league games than both Minnesota and North Dakota, but the fact remains that the Mavericks had never been at the head of their conference table this late in a season before.
HERE’S MY NUMBER, SO STAT ME MAYBE:
2: UNO freshman Tanner Lane picked up his first and second goals in a Maverick sweater in Friday’s 8-4 win. The Detroit Lakes, Minn. native only had one assist to his name so far in his time at UNO before the CC series, but he contributed those two goals in Friday’s win and added an assist on Andrej Sustr’s third-period goal the following night.
3: Faulkner owns the nation’s third-best winning percentage among D-I goaltenders so far this season. He is 11-3-1 so far in 16 appearances, giving him a .767 winning percentage.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND:
“Happy days, and we talked about that at the beginning of this week,” UNO coach Dean Blais said after Saturday’s game. “We’ve got to work hard and straighten out some of the things that weren’t going really well, and the guys executed and obviously had good goaltending from (UNO netminder John) Faulkner tonight. We talked also about the highest place any (UNO) team had been at this time of year. That’s another compliment to history that this team has made.”
–Blais on UNO rising to the top spot in the WCHA following Saturday’s 3-1 win over CC.