Mavericks improve to 4-0 at home with homecoming weekend sweep

PERFECT AT HOME

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Jackson Taylor
SPORTS EDITOR

After a disappointing series at Western Michigan two weeks ago, the Omaha hockey team got back on track against No. 6/7 Minnesota Duluth in their homecoming weekend. No. 8 Omaha swept UMD, winning 4-2 on both Friday and Saturday. Omaha improved to 8-2-0 overall and 2-2 in conference play.

Game 1

Omaha earned their first NCHC victory on Friday behind a bounce back stellar game from freshman goalie Evan Weninger. Weninger had given up three goals in the first period of UNO’s 6-1 loss to West- ern Michigan in the prior week- end. Against UMD, he recorded 45 saves, tying Dan Ellis for sixth all-time in UNO history for saves in a game.

The Mavericks snatched an early lead as Jake Guentzel slid a pass to Brian Cooper for a five-hole goal just 24 seconds into the game.

Freshman Fredrik Olofsson tacked on another goal for UNO late in the first period when he placed a deflected puck past UMD goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo to make it 2-0. The goal moved Olofsson’s goal to- tal to four on the year.

As expected, UMD came storming back in. The Bulldogs took advantage of a power play and cut the lead to one midway through the second as Austin Farley put a rebound past Weninger.

“Duluth didn’t quit,” head coach Dean Blais said. “They’ve got good speed and good players up front.”

With less than 5 minutes to play in the second, Omaha extended their lead to 3-1 on a powerplay. Steven Spinner took a shot at the goal that deflected off of Austin Ortega’s skate and into the net.

UMD once again took back a goal during a powerplay in the third when Kyle Osterberg scored off a rebound. The Bulldogs went on to outshoot Omaha 19-6 in the third, which allowed Weninger to shine.

Jake Randolph tallied an empty net goal at 18:47.

Duluth head coach said despite the end result, his team competed and played certain parts of the game well.

Game 2

Following an explosion of three goals in the third period, Omaha improved their NCHC record to 2-2 with a 4-2 victory over UMD on Saturday.

Saturday’s game was a dogfight for two periods, with each team mustering just one goal and both Weninger and Kaskisuo holding their own in the net. Weninger put up 35 saves, giving him 80 on the weekend and improving his record to 5-1.

Justin Parizek put Omaha up early with a short-handed goal just four minutes in. Solid defense by each side pushed the game to the second period with UNO on top 1-0.

UMD’s Dominic Toninato evened the score at 13:52 in the second, his fourth of the season.

With the game knotted up at one in the third, Jake Guentzel came up big again at 13:29 with a shot off a rebound from David Pope.

Olofsson got in on the fun 42 seconds later as he tapped a pass from Tanner Lane in midair that fell behind the back of Kaskisuo.

When Kaskisuo left the net during a powerplay Guentzel extended the lead to 4-1 at 17:47 with his sixth of the season.

UMD’s Raskob snuck a goal in with 17 seconds left for the final margin.

Following the weekend, UNO is now 9-12-2 against UMD and 4-1-2 in the last seven meetings.

UMD head coach Scott Sandelin said despite the end result, his team played well at certain points during the series.

“There’s no moral victories,” Sandelin said. “But I liked a lot of things that we did.”

Guenztel, who scored two goals and had one assist on Saturday, now leads the NCHC in scoring with 16 points and is tied for the NCAA lead. He praised the resilience of UMD and how much the sweep means for UNO.

“They have a great team, one of the better teams in our league,” Guentzel said. That’s huge wins for us down the road, PairWise.”

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