It's extremely rare in college hockey to see a line made up entirely of freshmen. Traditional thinking would place a veteran at the center position or at one of the wings to allow that experience to balance the ups and downs that can come with younger players.
As No. 8 North Dakota with its 7 NCAA titles and busloads of fans descends upon the Qwest Center this weekend, "Omaha's Team" sits on the brink of something big.
St. Cloud State junior forward Travis Novak scored with 1:04 remaining in Saturday night's game against the Mavs and UNO left St. Cloud with three of a possible four points in the weekend series. After an impressive 3-0 shutout Friday night, the Mavs were unable to hold their third period lead on Saturday, and neither team scored in overtime to produce a winner.
As the competition has discovered during the course of UNO's first eight games, it can be difficult to know which player or line to stop in order to be successful against the Mavs.
Senior forward Rich Purslow scored 9:35 into the second period Saturday night giving UNO a 3-2 lead. They never looked back, winning 5-2 against Minnesota State. After a 5-1 win Friday night in the opening game of the series, UNO was able to hold home ice in its first ever WCHA series in Omaha.
UNO and Minnesota State-Mankato have been playing for the "Spirit of the Maverick" trophy since 1998. However, as enjoyable as it may have been to win or retain the trophy each year, the stakes this season (and every season going forward) will be much higher.
After blazing to a 4-0 lead on Friday night and holding on for a 4-2 victory, the 6-1 Maverick loss to Michigan on Saturday night was something of a disappointment. Yet despite the loss, the UNO coaches have to have been pleased with the Mavs' 5-1 start.