The Omaha Mavericks hockey team traveled to Minnesota this past weekend where they played a two-game series against the defending National Champions in the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs.
In the two teams’ only scheduled meeting this season, UNO entered the series unranked looking to pull off an upset of the fifth-ranked Bulldogs on their own ice. But it was Duluth who jumped out to an early one-goal lead off the stick of Nick Swaney in the first period. After a couple more minutes of action, Omaha’s top scorer, Mason Morelli, was able to tie it up after a beautiful solo effort that began at center ice. Morelli’s game-tying goal came with about three minutes remaining in the first and was his 14thof the season.
Tied at 1-1, the second period would prove to be disastrous for the Mavericks. Despite a power play goal from UNO’s Teemu Pulkkinen, the Bulldogs had complete control and scored five goals to give them a 6-2 lead entering the final period on Friday night. The four-point lead proved to be too much for the Mavs, and UMD added a late goal during a power play to make the final score 7-2 in favor of the Bulldogs. Duluth’s Swaney earned himself a hat trick on the night while UNO gave up a season high 56 shots allowed.
Saturday night’s game would not feature the same amount of high-powered offense as Friday, but the result was the same. After a scoreless first period, UMD took the lead first after Dylan Samberg scored a goal about five and a half minutes into the second period. The Bulldogs would add another goal from Kobe Bender before the period was over and entered the final period with a comfortable lead for the second night in a row.
UNO made it interesting when Fredrik Olofsson deflected a shot into the net for his eighth goal of the year, making it 2-1 with close to 15 minutes remaining in the game. Strenuous play would continue for about 10 minutes while the goalkeepers for each team were able to showcase their skills before Duluth’s Parker Mackay gave the Bulldogs room to breathe and scored a goal to make it 3-1 just a few minutes before the end of regulation.
The Mavericks’ late push was not enough as Duluth capped off a series sweep of the Mavericks, averaging an impressive five goals a night. After the tough losses, Omaha moves to 7-15-2 overall and 3-10-1 in conference play, putting them in eighth place in the NCHC. UMD, on the other hand, is sitting pretty in second place with and improved to a 16-6-2 overall record and 9-4-1 in the conference.
The Mavericks will host Western Michigan for the teams’ second two-game series of the season, after the first one ended in a split. The matchups will take place on Feb. 1 and 2at Baxter Arena.