By Nick Beaulieu, Editor-In-Chief
Justin Parizek said after practice that head coach Dean Blais told the team he thinks they’re going to win a national championship.
After surviving the dreaded road slate with five wins and a tie, the No. 19 Mavs are trending towards that goal.
In its third consecutive road series, UNO traveled to Columbus, Ohio to face Ohio State, winning both games to advance to 6-1-1 on the season.
Friday night, Ryan Massa had the start to defend his unbeatened streak The senior’s rep as a “brick wall” continued as Massa stopped 25 shots.
The Mavs opened up to a 2-0 lead with goals from Justin Parizek at 15:05 in the first and Brian Cooper’s power play goal at 18:15 in the second period.
At 6:32, Matt Johnson brought the Buckeyes within one, but freshman Avery Peterson was able to get free and scored a water-bottle shot topshelf to give the Mavs another two-goal cushion.
Ian Brady scored on empty net the length of the rink from 195 feet out with less than two minutes to go as the Mavs cruised to the 4-1 win.
Saturday the Mavs were tested. On the backend of the series, sophomore Kirk Thompson got the start.
The first period featured a flurry of goals.
OSU’s Tanner Fritz got the Buckeyes out to an early lead at 4:05 in the game, but Avery Peterson had a goal of his own less than a minute later at 5:02.
Then at 6:02, OSU got a goal from Chad Niddery and at 16:11 Buckeye Darik Angeli scored on the powerplay to put OSU up 3-1.
At 17:57, Peterson scored his second goal of the game, third of the series, to bring UNO within one entering the second period.
At 11:07 in the second period, freshman David Pope scored the equalizing goal for the Mavs.
The two sides entered the third period square at 3-3, but at 1:53 in the third, Parizek scored his second goal of the series and the Mavs hung on to win 4-3.
In the second and third periods, Thompson locked down. The sophomore made 22 saves after making only 5 on three goals allowed in the first.
UNO’s 6-1-1 record is the teams best start since 2010-2011 when the Mavs started 8-1. That season was also the last time the Mavs have made the NCAA tournament, where UNO fell to Michigan 2-3.
UNO saw a lot of production out of the Parizek, Tyler Vesel and Jake Randolph line.
Both Vesel and Randolph had two assists Friday and Parizek scored. On Saturday, Parizek scored again, Randolph had two assists and Vesel one assist.
“Our lines been getting a lot of scoring chances,” Parizek said Monday at practice. “[Vesel] and Randolph are great players and they’ve already had an impact on the college level.”
Parizek is only a sophomore, but his experience playing with older players last season gives him a veteran presence this year.
“Now that I’m a sophomore and have some experience, it’s a different side of the role,” Parizek said.
UNO played both games without forward Jake Guentzel. Guentzel practiced with the team throughout the week but is still recovering from a big shot to the upper body suffered against Cornell. With the bye week, he should be back and ready for Minnesota Duluth.
The off week gives the Mavs extra time to prepare to extend their unbeaten streak against the 6-4 Bulldogs.
Minnesota Duluth is the point leader in the NCHC with 12, but the Bulldogs have played six conference games already compared to UNO’s two vs. Western Michigan.
The series Nov. 21 and 22 will be UNO’s first home series since Oct. 11.