UNO HOCKEY: Mavericks finish sweep

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PHOTO BY SHANNON SMITH
PHOTO BY SHANNON SMITH

By Jackson Taylor
Sports Editor

The second game of UNO’s series versus Air Force featured more of what the Mavericks have done all year. After jumping out to their sixth straight 2-0, Omaha downed Air Force 4-1 to improve to 6-0, their best start in program history.

Coach Blais said after the game that he hadn’t seen a start like this year in all his years of hockey.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team that has scored the first two goals for the first six games,” he said. “Someone’s got to look that up.”

Blais was pleased with another stellar game from freshman goalie Evan Weninger.

“Three goals against in three games, isn’t it,” Blais said of Weninger’s play. “I think that says it all.”

Air Force was limited to just 28 shots on goal, and Weninger snagged 27 of them, improving his collegiate record to 3-0. He attributed his readiness to guidance from the older players on the team.

“All of the older guys have been really helpful in practice and off the ice getting everyd into the games early,” Weninger said.

Weninger said the experience of playing in Baxter Arena for the first time was pretty special.

“I’ve never played in front of more than a thousand fans in my life,” he said. “So skating on the ice, seeing 8,000 fans and skating out in front of them, it was pretty cool.”

PHOTO BY SHANNON SMITH
PHOTO BY SHANNON SMITH

The scoring started early again for UNO in Saturday’s game. Senior fourth liner Aaron Pearce was the first to net a goal off a pass from Luke Nogard. Jake Randolph got his second goal in two days just minutes later, when he cleaned up a rebound to make it 2-0.

Right before the end of the first period, the Mavericks took a 3-0 lead when Jake Guentzel sent a pass through to Ortega who slapped in his seventh goal of the season. The second period saw a goalie switch from Air Force, as Billy Christopoulos took the net for the Falcons.

UNO was quick to pepper Christopoulos with shots and Guentzel came up with another goal that deflected on an Air Force defender. Of Guenztel, Air Force coach Frank Serretore said, “He’s the best college hockey player I’ve seen in a long, long time.

He is a little poor man’s Wayne Gretzky out there.” Air Force was able to avoid the shutout with a goal just minutes into the third period from Evan Okeley.

Omaha held on to the 4-1 lead the rest of the way, improving to a perfect 6-0, and 2-0 in their new home.

When asked how long the streak would continue, Pearce said, “We’re going to find out. It’s a very united room, and even with such a large group of freshman, there’s an incredible amount of chemistry.”

Omaha will look to continue your win streak at Western Michigan next weekend. The Mavericks take on the Broncos in two 6 p.m. games on Friday and Saturday.

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