By Nate Tenopir, Sports Editor
After a bounce back weekend at Michigan Tech, UNO sits tied for fourth in the WCHA standings. A 3-3 tie then a 4-0 win plus struggles by Colorado College and Denver have the Mavs in fourth place, and within just five points of the top spot.
Yet perhaps lost in the good feelings of getting back in the race is the poor performance of the power play. UNO went 0 for 7 with the man advantage at Michigan Tech and has seen their conversion percentage drop below 20 percent for the first time since the first six games.
Since the calendar flipped to 2012, the Mavs have scored just three power play goals in eight games.
After achieving a respectable mark of 22 percent through the season’s first 22 games, UNO has achieved just 9 percent in their last 33 chances.
“We’re not happy with that,” Matt White said. The Mavs leading scorer has been playing the point on the power play most of the season. Though their percentage may be dropping, White thinks it’s more about not finishing chances than it is failing to create opportunities.
“We’ve been missing a lot of opportunities 5 on 3 and 5 on 4 that we need to take advantage of. We’re getting good chances and stuff like that, they’re just not going in.”
“Goalies are making good saves. As far as the production, we’re not happy with the overall production and at the same time we just gotta keep shooting pucks and getting to the net.”
In just the last four games UNO has had four 5 on 3 opportunities and haven’t scored once on any of their chances. Combined they went 0 for 4:28 skating two up against Bemidji State and Michigan Tech.
The Mavs didn’t win any of the last three games in which they had a 5 on 3 chance. They failed in the first period of the Friday matchup with Bemidji, needing a late third period goal by Bryce Aneloski to force overtime and salvage a 1-1 tie.
The following night, UNO got two 5 on 3s back-to-back, one for 26 seconds and another for 59 seconds. The Beavers won 6-4.
Last Friday at Michigan Tech the Mavs skated two up for 1:41. Just minutes after coming back from a 2-0 first-period deficit to take a 3-2 lead, UNO had a chance to get their own two-goal lead.
In any of those games, converting just once could have been the difference between getting only a point or no points at all.
“He (Coach Blais) always wants us to be patient when things aren’t going well,” White said. “We got to be patient with each other and help each other out not to get frustrated.”
“Everyone is gonna get frustrated with numbers like that. The biggest thing for us is staying focused and staying positive.”
White is part of a five-man group that has made up the power play for most of the year. Opposite from White at the other point is Bryce Aneloski.
Down low playing the forward positions have been Terry Broadhurst, Jayson Megna and Brock Montpetit.
Between those five players are 15 of the Mavs’ 23 power play goals. Thus, despite the dropping numbers it might be a stretch to think about changing the line up on special teams.
“We’ve kind of kept the same personnel out there trying different power plays and different looks,” White said. “Sometimes on different teams it doesn’t work and you got to switch it up so I think it’s just adjusting to the penalty kill they have.”
While it might seem an obvious stat that UNO has been a lot better on the power play in wins then they have been in losses, the differences are still very dramatic. In games the Mavs have won they’ve forced 14 more power plays and converted 11 percent better than in losses, but get just about the same amount of shots.
However, only two of the losses have been by a single goal. Two losses have come by four goals, five have been by three goals and three by two goals.
Chances are converting any extra power plays in those games would not have made much of a difference. What might be more telling are power play results in UNO’s six ties.
The Mavs have scored just three times on 24 chances (13 percent) in games that ended in a tie. They average about the same number of power play opportunities in ties as they do in wins and losses.
If UNO had scored just two more goals on those chances, their conversion rate jumps all the way up to 21 percent and they probably earn two extra wins as well. The two points that would generate is the difference between still being in a fight for home ice and only being three points from the top of the conference.
“I think sometimes we get a little too fancy,” White said. “So we’re gonna focus on shooting a lot more. With the big rink at Colorado College we think it’s key to get the pucks on net and not miss the net.
We’ve been missing the net, and it kind of takes away from time on the power play which hurts us in the long run.”
Maverick Power Play Situational Numbers
Home 9 for 61 15% 8 shots per game 4.4 chances per game
Away 14 for 63 22% 7.4 shots per game 3.9 chances per game
Wins 14 for 57 25% 8.1 shots per game 4.4 chances per game
Losses 6 for 43 14% 7.8 shots per game 3.9 chances per game