With Omaha hockey entering its third season under head coach Mike Gabinet, a degree of optimism and uncertainty surrounds the team.
After finishing 9-24-3 last season, it seems, at the moment, there is nowhere else to go but up for the Mavericks. While 2019 may not have been the season Omaha hockey fans hoped for, a foundation was established for the Mavericks to build upon this season.
One difference for this team is the large number of newcomers. Currently, the Maverick freshman class has 12 members.
Normally, large roster turnover would be a negative factor for just about any sports team. Bringing in lots of faces and having to work them into a cohesive unit is always a monumental task for any coach. If you ask head coach Gabinet, however, this is a challenge that he embraces.
“This group, the way they came in with their work ethic and the fitness level they came in at – their character level is going to be a great foundation for the program moving forward,” Gabinet said at the team’s pre-season press conference.
One of the standouts in this large freshman class is goalie Isaiah Saville. All three goalies on the Omaha team are freshman this season, and Saville seems to be the best of his class. Before becoming a Maverick, Saville played for the Tri-City Storm in the United States Hockey League. While playing for the Storm, Saville was named Goaltender of the Year with a 0.925 save percentage. Saville will look to keep that form going this season.
While the large freshman class might be one the stories of the season, there are still a number of returners worth mentioning for Omaha. One of the players to watch is senior Zach Jordan, the co-leading returning goal-scorer for Omaha, alongside sophomore Taylor Ward. Last season, Jordan had nine goals and 17 assists for a total of 26 points. That point total was good enough for fourth best on last year’s team. Jordan will likely have to elevate his game this season if he is to replace the goal scoring performance of last season’s top-goal scorer Mason Morelli, who scored 19 goals.
Omaha Hockey plays their first exhibition game of the season on Oct. 7 at home against Manitoba. The regular season begins shortly after, as Omaha hosts two games at home against Alabama Huntsville on Oct. 11 and Oct. 12. Both games can be listened to on 1180 Zone 2 or Mavradio.com.