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NCAA

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The Florida gators won the 2017 NCAA Men's College world series omaha
photo courtesy NCAA

Ray Koch
Sports Editor

For two weeks every year, Omaha is the host to the spectacle that is the College World Series.
Almost 300 college baseball teams from around the country battle all season, fighting for one of the eight spots to come to Omaha and win a National Championship in front of more than 20,000 fans, who also travel from around the country.
People love the College World Series because for two weeks in the middle of summer, we get to watch kids play baseball with the passion and emotions that we rarely find watching a regular season professional baseball game. For some, it stirs up all the passion and emotions they played with during their athletic career. Even if you didn’t play sports, you can’t deny that there is a certain nostalgia lingering in the air of TD Ameritrade Stadium.
The Florida Gators stole the show this year, going 5-1 and sweeping LSU in the championship series. Dominate pitching and timely hitting were the keys to success for the Gators, who won their first ever College World Series in six trips to Omaha.
This year’s series featured the first time a player has hit a home run from both sides of the plate in a single game, which LSU’s Michael Papierski did in an elimination game against Oregon State. It also saw a hometown hero, Ryan Merrill, who is a senior shortstop for TCU and was born and raised in Omaha, become the first player from the host town to homer in the College World Series.
It comes and goes so fast, but the “Greatest Show on dirt” never disappoints.

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By Jackson Taylor
Sports Editor

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) has announced several new playing rules and policy changes for the 2015-16 season. The changes were passed by the NCHC’s Board of Directors during the offseason.

The NCHC will be the first college hockey conference to use a 3-on-3 overtime to decide the the extra standings point after the game ends in a tie. The rule will only be in effect during conference games. According to NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton, the the decision was made to bring more excitement and fairness to overtime.

nchc-logoAs is standard in all NCAA hockey conferences, conference games that are tied after regulation will play 5-on-5 plus goalies for five minutes in overtime with three conference standings points up for grabs. The winner of this overtime period receives three points in conference standings and the loser receives none. If the teams remain tied after the 5 minute overtime period, each team receives one point and it is officially ruled a tie. Then the teams will engage in a 3-on-3 plus goalies 5 minute overtime to compete for the third point. The result of this 3-on-3 overtime will not have an affect on the PairWise rankings as the game is still considered a tie. Statistics collected in the 3-on-3 overtime will not count in the conference or national statistics

If no goals are scored in the 3-on-3 overtime period, the game will go to a sudden death shootout for the extra point. This is different than last season’s 3-man shootout format. Each team will send out one shooter and if one shooter scores and the other doesn’t, that team wins the shootout, gaining the extra point. If both shooters score or if neither score, another round of shootouts ensues until a winner is determined.

NCHC Overtime Broken Down

Regulation ends in a tie.

5-on-5 (plus goalies) 5-minute overtime period.

If still tied, 3-on-3 (plus goalies) 5-minute overtime period.

If still tied, sudden death shootout. Each team sends out a shooter for one shot.

Another big change that the NCHC has made is that starting in October, all NCHC members will use NHL-sized nets during home games. An NHL net is 40 inches deep at its base and 18 inches deep on top of the goal. A typical NCAA net is 44 inches deep at the base and 20 inches deep on top. The smaller depth inside the goal will presumably allow more scoring chances as players will have more room to maneuver around the net.

A series of smaller changes that will not directly affect the game were also made. One of these changes is that the home team will now wear their colored or dark-colored jerseys and visitors will wear white or light-colored jerseys during the first half of the season, opposite of last year. The NCHC also made a policy change that increases travel roster size for regular season conference games. This year, teams can travel 23 players to road games, as opposed to last year’s limit of 22. As per usual, there is not a limit for non-conference games.

The NCHC also announced there will be a post-graduate scholarship given to one graduating NCHC student-athlete who plans to go to graduate school. The student-athlete will be selected by NCHC schools’ Faculty Athletics Representatives.

Another off-the-ice policy change is a new player-safety measure that requires all NCHC institutions to comply with NCAA concussion protocol review processes.

As a member of the NCHC, Omaha hockey will experience the new rules beginning in their season-opening series at Minnesota State on Oct. 9-10.

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The “Cardiac Kids” were about to do it again.

Trailing 2-0 entering the third period, Jake Guentzel slid a shot past Jon Gillies at 10:46 in the third to bring the Mavericks within one. But 24 seconds later, Trevor Mingola scored from out in front to push the cushion back to two and ultimately squashed the Mavericks’ comeback effort, as Providence won 4-1.

Ryan Massa continued his spectacular play early, making 26 saves before a Friar would find the net.

Providence broke it open when Brian Pinho sent a shot in just past the blue line that rebounded out of the reach of Massa. The senior couldn’t cover it and Noel Acciari tapped it in at 11:02 in the second period for the first goal of the game.

Four minutes later, UNO turned it over in their own zone and Nick Saracino tossed it to Mark Jankowski who scored in open space to make it 2-0.

Guentzel gave the Mavs hope with his goal at 10:46, but the Friars’ immediate answer and open-netter at 19:29 in the third sealed the deal and eliminated the Mavericks from the NCAA tournament.

“When they scored right away to make it 3-1 you could feel the energy go right out of the bench,” head coach Dean Blais said. “It was a great shot by a great player.”

It was only the third time ever that UNO has been to the NCAA tournament and it was the Mavericks’ first ever appearance in the Frozen Four.

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It was a big game on a big stage with an outcome that Blais said was more about what Providence did right than what the Mavericks failed to do in what concluded a historic weekend for UNO hockey.

“I think we expended a lot of energy like everyone else did to get here and the emotion is like a tank of gas, you only have so much left in it, not that we were gassed but very emotional two wins in Notre Dame at the Midwest Regional. And to advance to get here, and the parents being here and just the chance to play in the Boston Garden and tradition of this whole community. So it was a big deal for us,” Blais said. “I don’t think it was anything that we did wrong I think it was a lot of what providence did right.”

Ryan Massa tallied 44 saved in his final game as a Maverick. His late season heroics and best-in-the-country save percentage have lifted the UNO hockey program to the next level while becoming a local sports hero in Omaha who won’t soon be forgotten.

“He exemplifies UNO hockey to a ‘t’,” Dominic Zombo said of the Mavericks’ netminder. “The guy competes at everything he does, he’s the backbone of this program and he’s the reason why we are where we are right now.”

Massa was pleased as a senior to know the team is in a position for future success.

“For the first time in the school history making it this far in the postseason with a youthful team only bodes well for the future of this program,” Massa said. “It’s going to give guys that confidence and understand how hard it is to get here and then even how much harder it is to win that one game to get you to the National Championship finals. So I think it was a great learning experience for these guys, and it was an honor to be there for them and experience it with them.”

The game was also the last for Zombo. After battling an injury that sidelined him for most of the second leg of the season, the captain mustered the strength to play the Mavs’ final three playoff games in an effort to make something special.

“It meant a lot. Our guys worked really hard to get us that opportunity for me to play. For me I really can’t thank them enough,” Zombo said. “To be able to play this hockey game, the game that I love, means everything to me. Especially my senior year to keep extending my season couldn’t be anything better.”

For the younger guys, UNO now sits in a position that will have them competing to get back to the Frozen Four for years to come.

“It was special. It was very, very special year,” sophomore Guentzel said. “Starting with the seniors, I’ve never met such a great group of guys that were such leaders to us freshman and all of these younger guys.”

It was a year and a journey that made a big impact in the city of Omaha and UNO community, with the university cast on a national spotlight.

“I am so proud of this team and the coaches. I will walk on cloud nine for months,” said UNO Chancellor John Christensen. “This team did something incredible: they earned the right to be among the best hockey teams in the country. And, they brought all of us — and our hometown of Omaha — along with them. Now everyone knows this: UNO is championship ready.”

The Mavericks will begin next year’s journey for a championship in a new arena with a fancy new banner to go with it: 2015 Midwest Regional champions.

“I think sort of puts Omaha on the map,” Brian O’Rourke said. “With a great young group of players coming back next year, everyone can look forward to another great season from UNO hockey.”

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MORE ONLINE

Get one last look at UNO vs. Providence photos by Gateway Photographer Evan Ludes.
Click here to view the entire collection.

And so it begins…

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning throngs of University of Nebraska at Omaha students filed into several charter buses headed on the road for Boston.

Their destination: The TD Garden, of course.

Why? That’s where the 2015 NCAA Frozen Four ice hockey tournament will be held, duh.

Here’s a glimpse of their nearly two-day bus trip from our Gateway photographer Evan Ludes point of view…

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A huge thank you to UNO and Aksarben Cinema for helping fund the trip for Gateway photographer Evan Ludes and Editor-in-Chief Nick Beaulieu, who will be providing live updates on unothegateway.com

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UNO students on the charter bus as they head to Boston early Wednesday morning.

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A snapshot of UNO students at after grabbing a quick bite in Elkhart, Indiana.

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Passing through Cleveland! #UNOHOCKEY #BusGrind

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A quiet moment for student journalist Nick Beaulieu.

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Loud and proud! #BostonBound out of Syracuse, NY, Thursday morning. GO MAVS!

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Passed over the Hudson earlier, just crossed the border into Massachusetts! #FrozenFour #BostonBound @UNOmaha

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Student buses have arrived at TD Garden in Boston. It’s Happening #UNOHOCKEY @UNOmaha @UNOThe_Gateway

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EXCLUSIVE: A sneak peak inside TD Garden. Are you ready for some #UNOHOCKEY?

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UNO students braving the cold with Durango and keeping it fresh at #FrozenFest #UNOHOCKEY A big thank you to Gateway Staff Writer Phil Brown for snapping this image of Richard Larson, the Gateway’s Opinion Editor. #nicedancemoves

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#MavsTakeBoston @UNOmaha @UNOThe_Gateway

 

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Mavs just grabbed lunch in Syracuse, NY and continue to roll west! ETA in Omaha 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. #ShippingOutOfBoston

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Shout out to @AksarbenCinema for helping the Mavs take over Boston and bringing the experience to those at home!

UPDATE: Student buses have departed Cleveland after a delayed dinner stop. Omaha ETA pushed to 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

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A group of very drowsy Mavs waiting for the bus to fuel up one last time at Iowa 80 truck stop. Omaha ETA still 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

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We made it! Thanks again to @AksarbenCinema and @Mavpuck for supporting our awesome students!

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The UNO Maverick hockey team has seen an increase in media attention lately due to their recent NCAA success. Obviously, the buzz around campus has increased as well.

If you don’t believe us, just take a glance around campus. (There’s no shortage of UNO gear.)

With the Mavericks facing off against Providence in the Frozen Four later today, we thought it would be appropriate to ask UNO student fans about some of the team’s key players.

Their answers were quite comical. Enjoy!

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