No matter the sport, every team that becomes a championship dynasty has that one heartbreaking loss just before its dreams are realized.
St. Louis - After a summer of preparation, 38 games of competition and 2,352 minutes of game time, the UNO hockey season came down to a span of just 10 minutes and 21 seconds. In that short time span, the hopes and dreams of a Frozen Four appearance and potential national championship were wiped away.
Though a weekend playoff sweep to Bemidji State puts UNO squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble, Dean Blais and the Mavs returned to business as usual on Monday afternoon. With conference tournaments this week and selection Sunday approaching, the team is hopeful they've done enough to earn a spot in hockey's big dance.
When Dean Blais was hired as UNO's head hockey coach two summers ago there was an immediate shift in expectations. In the 12-year history of the program, UNO had been to the NCAA tournament just once and finished with 20 or more wins only three times.
UNO's 5-2 victory Saturday night earned the Mavs a split in their final conference series at No. 11 Minnesota-Duluth and sole possession of third place in the WCHA. It's the highest conference finish the team has ever had in the 14-year history of UNO hockey.
Leadership was a priority for the Mavs coming into the 2010 hockey season. There was the move to a new conference, the addition of 10 freshmen to the lineup and a five-year gap since the team last played in the NCAA tournament.
As October came, the UNO hockey team began preparing for its first season of WCHA hockey. Becoming the newest member of a storied conference with a record of 36 national championships and over 90 current NHL players left most to assume that for the Mavs, the 2010-11 season would be an uphill battle.