Tags Posts tagged with "Frozen Four"

Frozen Four

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Photo Courtesy of Century Link Center

Joe Franco
SPORTS EDITOR

The CenturyLink Center can hold up to 17,560 fans. Imagine if each and every one of those seats was covered in red, white and black colors, and engulfed with eager Maverick fans ready to unleash the furry.

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln athletic department put in a bid to host the NCAA Frozen Four in 2019 and 2022 at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha. Why does this matter? The University of Nebraska at Omaha could potentially play its biggest game of its hockey program on home-ice.

UNO made its first Frozen Four in 2015, and have showed that their hockey program is headed into the right direction. The Mavs are in the toughest hockey conference in the country in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, but good competition only strengthens a team’s mental and physical capacity.

So, how is UNL relevant to this conversation?

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln would not be able to host the event at the Pinnacle Bank Arena due to only being able to hold a maximum of 16,000 seats. The Frozen Four requires at least 18,000 spectators to attend, which is why it has been held at professional hockey arenas, such as the home of the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks in the last three years.

Despite not having a hockey program, UNL would still be hosting a major college-sporting event, which never looks bad on a resume. Butch Hug, Nebraska’s associate athletic director for facilities and events, mentioned in the Omaha World-Herald that hosting the Frozen Four in Omaha would be a great turnout not just for UNO, but hockey fans in general.

“Hockey would be a natural here because so many people are interested in the sport here in the Midwest,” Hug said. “We’re centrally located, and we have a facility that has a proven track record.

The ‘Clink’ would be a great homecoming for the Mavericks, who have not played there since the 2014-15 season. After the Baxter Arena was finished, UNO moved west to Aksarben to skate in a venue dedicated for hockey.

In the 12 seasons UNO played at the CenturyLink Center, the Mavs were not able to host the Frozen Four. Now that they have their own arena, Hug mentioned there are no regulations against hosting the event at the CentruyLink Center.

“Once they relocated to their own arena, the facility was available to be considered,” Hug said. “Now we can do it.”

The NCAA is expected to announce the winner of the bid April 18.

There’s a reoccurring theme for Nebraska schools that host a major event in sports. When UNL hosted the women’s volleyball final four in 2006 and in 2015, Nebraska went on to win both titles in Omaha.

UNO could fall into this theme to win its first ever NCAA Division I title in not just hockey, but in any sport. Hosting the Frozen Four would immediately put UNO on the radar for other schools, coaches and players, but winning the whole shebang would elevate UNO’s ranking in sports as a legitimate Division I competitor that fans have been waiting for.

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Jackson Taylor

Sports Editor

Following their most successful season in school history, which featured a trip to the Frozen Four, Omaha looks to steal a couple wins in this huge series with Minnesota State.

Meanwhile, Minnesota State is a team looking to prove to the world of college hockey that they aren’t the same team that lost to 16 seed RIT in the NCAA playoffs last year as a 1 seed. This 10 vs. 6 matchup is arguably the best series we’ll see to start the 2015-2016 season.

Once again, Omaha features one of the youngest rosters in the NCHC after adding 10 freshman this year and only carrying three seniors.

However, the team possesses deep playoff experience and doesn’t shy away from the big stage. This year’s roster features nine players drafted by NHL teams, a program record.

That said, UNO will have a difficult test coming onto MSU’s home ice. MSU is 31-3-2 at home in their last two seasons and are helped by the average attendance of 3,980—over 80 percent capacity of their home arena.

MSU is led by a troop of veterans as they return 18 letterwinners and lose seven this year. The key for Omaha will be to lock down, or at least limit production from one of these vets, forward Bryce Gervais, whose 27 goals ranked second in the nation last year.

Gervais has not missed a game in his MSU career, playing in 122 consecutive. Omaha defenseman Brian Cooper has played against Gervais for three years now and will be a key piece in curbing Gervais’ scoring chances.

Gervais will be taking shots at a different Omaha goalkeeper this year, with standout goalie Ryan Massa graduating last year. Junior Kirk Thompsen will likely be Omaha’s starting goalie this weekend. Thompsen earned his first win last season in a 27 save performance at Ohio State.

This year MSU’s game plan has to include a strategy to prevent Omaha’s Austin Ortega, who averaged 3.69 shots per game last year, from getting the puck in open ice. The junior from California had an assist and scored the game-winning goal against when the two teams met last year.

MSU defensemen Casen Nelson and Carter Forguth saw action in all 40 games last year and will look to safeguard veteran goalie Cole Huggins from Ortega and the Omaha offense.

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By Richard Larson, Opinion Editor

Winning isn’t everything. After being defeated at our very first Frozen Four, it’s difficult to stand behind that concept if you were watching the Mavericks take on Providence. However, if you were one of the lucky students who traveled to Boston, then you understand the gravity of this past weekend. 

In recent years, UNO has been re-inventing itself. Implementing new logos and marketing, making the move to Division-1 athletics, setting goals for enrollment, improving campus facilities and further developing award-winning programs have all contributed to the unstoppable momentum UNO is charging the nation with. 

Most importantly, the greatest effort UNO has put forth is its dedication to being a student-centered university. This could not be more apparent with the way this past weekend was handled. 

It says a lot when your university provides the opportunity to travel nearly 1,500 miles to support a team that has seen unprecedented success this year. 

For just $250, I was able to travel to Boston to cheer on our Mavericks with more than 100 other students. I will tell you this trip was worth far beyond that cost.

The trip included bus fare, several meals, tickets to all three games, admittance to a pre-game party hosted by the UNO Alumni Association and the chance to explore the historic city of Boston. Still, it is hard to put a price tag on what students left this trip with. 

Personally, this weekend was perhaps the greatest memory I will have in my college career at UNO. Opportunities like this do not happen easily. It is with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and respect that I, along with my peers who attended this trip, thank all those who made this possible.

My favorite part of the entire experience was when our Mav army arrived at the Frozen Fest pep rally. There we were, halfway across the country, representing our city and university. I saw a great deal of pride on the faces around me. There was an energy radiating throughout our group that could never be repeated. We were an unbreakable force to be reckoned with, and nothing could come close to the feeling of that moment.
The cheerleaders and Durango took the stage with the band and we were sure to let the NCAA know that we meant business. Immediately following, we took to the streets of Boston. The band was going nuts and our iconic chants filled the alleys and intersections on our way to the pre-game party. Led by Chancellor John Christensen, we geared up for our hockey program’s most pivotal game ever.
Among many supporters, this could not have been possible without several key people. Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Dr. B.J. Reed, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Dr. Dan Shipp, Executive Director for University Communications Erin Owen and Senior Associate Athletic Director Josh White were instrumental in making this dream become a reality for so many. 
Special recognition must be given to Senior Director for Student Involvement Bill Pickett for his legendary service to this university. He has been relentless in changing school spirit this year and continues to evolve the involvement landscape at UNO. 
Honorable mentions to Senior Director of Wellness Joe Kaminski, Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards Dr. Philip Covington and Spirit Coordinator for Student Involvement Kelsey McAlpine for ensuring the safety and success of the overall trip. Lastly, special thanks to Lee Denker and the UNO Alumni Association, MavPuck, MavRadio and all the fans who supported the hockey team from home. 
To students, I say this: believe in your university and take pride in where you come from. To UNO administrators: please continue to serve the student body and community in the remarkable and innovative manner in which you always have. 
The opening of our new arena is just months away. The result of next year’s season may be unknown, but our passion for excellence remains constant. Let this adventure become a tradition, as we look to next year’s NCAA Frozen Four. 
Fight on, Mavericks. Fight on.
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By Avery Wenck, Sports Editor

Maverick fans, students and players went to Boston this past weekend with the intent of returning as national champions.

Although the Mavericks were defeated by Providence on Thursday, it would be ludicrous to call the trip unsuccessful. 

Brian O’Rourke says that the team doesn’t like to call this team ‘young’ anymore because they have a whole season under their belt, but that was something Dean Blais said was a problem.

Who could blame them, though? Their celebrity status as a team had grown significantly within the past few weeks leading up to this trip. Local and national media alike were swarming them constantly for interviews and television bits. A team that wouldn’t normally have anyone at their practices was now welcoming all local television outlets to watch practice and interview players.

Their send-off on Monday night was nothing short of incredible, either. I’d be willing to bet that no one expected us to fill the Scott Conference Center with that many people, yet it looked like a super bowl parade.

Along with police escorts through the city of Boston, you could understand how all of this would be overwhelming for a team of 17 underclassmen who are supposed to be focused on a hockey game.
Blais said it best: “Give Providence credit. They have more of a veteran set of forwards than we do, and I think they played with more confidence and more relaxed than we did.”
That doesn’t change the fact that they deserved it. The experience these guys got out there will help them grow and learn for the future. They got to play against a top team in Providence who would eventually go on to defeat Boston University and be crowned national champions. They got the opportunity to play on the biggest stage in college hockey in the Frozen Four at the TD Garden.
O’Rourke was happy with the way the guys battled this year to make the first Frozen Four in UNO history. He says this weekend “put Omaha on the map.”
It’s apparent that this team is built to succeed in the future. The majority of the forwards were underclassmen, and all performed consistently this season. Along with next year’s recruits, this team is going to continue to improve and show that they are ready to stay in the national spotlight. An opportunity to go to Tampa next year would be a massive statement.
The seniors and this team as a whole will never be forgotten. What they accomplished this year will go down as the biggest moment in UNO’s history. A stepping stone to an eventual national championship. Hockey has brought this city and this campus an immense amount of joy this year, and for that we will forever be thankful.

We couldn’t be any more proud to be a UNO Maverick than today.

The UNO hockey team put in serious work Thursday against the Providence Friars during the first of two semifinal matchups at the TD Garden in Boston. The Friars moved on to the national championship game, beating Omaha 4-1.

The Mavericks showed their grit. Their opponents were relentless.

Sure, it’s a loss. But we’ve gained ground.

The University of Nebraska-Omaha made its first appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four after defeating Harvard and RIT in the Midwest Regionals.

Dean Blais, head coach of UNO, is in his sixth season as the head coach of the Mavericks and has led the team to three 20-win seasons.

This team gave us a taste of success. We’ll be back.

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Our very talented Gateway Photographer Evan Ludes shared these photos from the UNO vs. Providence Frozen Four game Thursday in Boston.

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