By Nate Tenopir, Editor-in-Chief
For the second year in row UNO sat in position to take home ice over the last two weekends of the season but failed to earn a single point and slid all the way down to seventh place. Last year the downward spiral sent the Mavs to St. Cloud State where the losing streak extended into the first round of the WCHA.
UNO dropped Game 1 4-0 then Game 2 3-1 and failed to make the conference’s Final Five tournament in St. Paul.
If the Mavs are to get to the Final Five in their last season before transferring to the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference they’ll have to go through an old friend in Mike Hastings and Minnesota State.
Minnesota State ended the season in sixth place with a split while hosting North Dakota last weekend. Wisconsin, Denver and Minnesota State all finished the season with 33 WCHA points.
Wisconsin picked up the fourth seed by virtue of winning the season series with Denver and splitting with Minnesota State. Denver took fifth over the purple Mavericks because the Pioneers swept the season series 2-0.
Before UNO hits the road to try and make its last mark in the WCHA here are some quick facts about the last time the Mavs and Minnesota State got together and some numbers on how UNO ended the season:
UNO and Minnesota State split a series on Dec. 14-15 in Omaha. The purple Mavs won Game 1 6-3 then UNO came back for a 5-1 win the following night.
The top player in the series was MSU’s Johnny McInnis. McInnis finished the season ranked for fifth in points with 13 goals and nine assists. In the 6-3 Minnesota State victory McInnis picked up two goals and an assist. Teammate Teddy Blueger also had a three-point night with three assists.
The top Maverick in the series was Matt White. White scored a goal and an assist in the loss and added another goal in the victory.
The Mavs have had to change goaltenders four times in just their last eight games. Faulkner was pulled in the second game of the North Dakota series, Dayn Belfour was replaced after a slow start in UNO’s series finale in Anchorage and Ryan Massa was switched out in both of the games this weekend.
Since the Mavs swept arch rival Bemidji State on the road in late January, UNO goaltending has been mostly mediocre. Over the final 10 games Maverick goaltenders have given up 34 goals.
In that time UNO netminders are saving just .873 percent of the shots and putting up a 3.40 goals against average.
Between the pipes UNO started John Faulkner in the loss and the now departed Anthony Stolarz in the win. Faulkner surrendered 4 goals on 15 shots and was pulled in the second period after McInnis put Minnesota State up 4-2.
Stolarz came in and surrendered two more goals then made 27 saves on 28 shots the following night. Stephon Williams was MSU’s starting goaltender for both contests.
After saving 25-of-28 on Friday, Williams was 28-of-32 on Saturday. He comes into the playoff series 18-9-2 with a 1.86 goals against average and a .927 save percentage.
Against the Mavs Williams was slightly below those marks giving up 3.50 goals per game while putting up a .883 save percentage.
The seven goals UNO scored against Williams was the highest total he gave up all year in any two-game series.
The offense hasn’t been helping much either. The Mavs have scored three or more goals just five times over the final 10 games. In the five other games they’ve been shutout once, held to a single goal twice and put up two goals twice as well.
On the power play UNO is a respectable 17 percent (6-35) over the last 10 matchups. But the penalty kill has been overly porous.
Maverick opponents have earned just two more power plays over the past 10 games, but they’ve also scored nine more times (15-for-37). That number is an alarming 41 percent for UNO’s opponents when they have the man advantage.