By Andrew Nelson, Contributor
The twelfth ranked Omaha Mavericks (8-4-2) split a series with the fourth ranked Miami (Ohio) Red Hawks (11-5-0) in Oxford, Ohio last weekend. After a punishing 8-2 loss to Miami Friday night, the Mavericks surged back in Saturday’s contest to salvage a much needed win in the conference series.
The Mavericks travel back to Omaha this week fourth in the conference with a (4-3-1) record in NCHC play as Miami (7-3-0 in NCHC play) keeps it spot at first in the conference as the season rolls on.
Friday night’s game got off to a quick 1-0 Omaha lead less than five minutes into the game after freshmen David Pope capitalized on an Austin Ortega rebound. However, the first goal momentum that’s been key for the Mavericks all season was not enough to stop seven straight goals by the Red Hawks. Five of those goals came in a big second period by Miami, who entered the third up 7-1.
Miami’s Cody Murphy had a natural hat trick in just the second period. Team captain Dominic Zombo recorded one more Maverick goal on a third period power play to stop the run.
Tensions were high after the Mavs cut the lead to five goals. A small scuffle broke out between the two teams, which led to two full penalty boxes. Omaha’s Justin Parizek, Tanner Lane and Brian O’Rourke each received ten minute misconducts as did three of Miami’s players. All six players also received two-minute roughing penalties. Miami scored an empty-net goal shortly after late in the third to finish the scoring for the night.
Saturday night’s game got off to a much better start for the Mavericks, who had a three goal lead at the beginning of Saturday’s second period. Contribute the good start to two goal effort in the first period by Austin Ortega with a goal by Pope sandwiched in between. Ortega’s sixth and seventh goal of the season lead the Mavericks.
The RedHawks would score twice and get within one goal before freshmen Avery Peterson and Jake Randolph recorded goals in the final five minutes to put the game away. Ryan Massa rebounded very well Saturday with his second-highest save total of his career with 40 saves compared to a dismal 12 the night before when he was replaced by back-up Kirk Thompson. One of the two goals allowed by Massa came about after a lengthy video review.
Omaha returns to the ice at the Century Link Center this week to begin an eight-game home stand. The streak of home games begins this weekend with a series against St. Cloud State Friday at 7:37 and Saturday at 8:07. Head coach Dean Blais has a chance to earn his 100th win as the head coach at UNO.