By Nate Tenopir, Sports Editor
Fans are going to look at the last two weeks’ four straight losses at home and say the UNO hockey team just doesn’t have it and they’re obviously moving in the wrong direction. That’s an easy assessment to make if you haven’t been following the team all year. But the level of play is actually higher than it has been all year. The Mavs have improved as team even though neither Johnnie Searfoss nor Zahn Raubenheimer were in the lineup last week. Coach Blais’ lineup for Saturday looked like it was pulled out of a hat. But despite guys moving from line to line, UNO was right there on Saturday and should have won the game.
The Mavs have played St. Cloud State six times over the last two years and have yet to lose a game. Their record over that time is 4-0-2. UNO beat the Huskies in Omaha in November, 4-3 and tied them the next night 2-2. In two games at St. Cloud last season the Mavs won 3-0 then tied 4-4. What might be better news is that 58 percent of the scoring against the Huskies last season is still on the roster. A season ago Ryan Walters had three goals and an assist against St. Cloud, Brock Montpetit had two goals, three assists and Matt White and Raubenheimer had three points apiece.
Three weeks after running a story about the lack of scoring on the power play, the Mavs responded and went out and got two power play goals in the Friday game at Colorado College. But over the last two weeks, the man advantage sputtered and produced an 0 for 13 mark. UNO has dropped to last place in the WCHA with a power play number of only 17.5 percent. The penalty kill continues to be strong at 83.2 percent, and the Mavs lead the conference with 10 shorthanded goals.
St. Cloud State is 8-6-4 at home this year. The Huskies have four good home wins against Minnesota, Denver, North Dakota and Minnesota-Duluth, and only one bad loss to Alaska Anchorage. Freshman goaltender Ryan Faragher has seen the most action in net with 23 appearances, a .915 save percentage and 2.77 goals against. Facing the Mavs earlier in the year, Faragher went 0-1-1 with a .909 save percentage and 3.00 GAA. Chances are Faragher will get the starts. The Huskies also have junior Mike Lee but in Lee’s career against UNO he is 0-3-1 with a .907 save percentage and a 3.50 GAA.
It looks and sounds as if Raubenheimer will be back for the series against the Huskies but Searfoss is probably still out for one more week.