Last weekend's split in Nashville against Alabama-Huntsville was a perfect example of UNO's inconsistent season. A 3-1 uninspiring loss was followed by a 6-2 blowout where the outcome was never in question. Inconsistency is a mark of a young team but this team has been playing together now for two months. If the Mavs don't finish well enough in the WCHA, not taking care of business in the non-conference games will weaken their resume for the NCAA tournament.
Terry Broadhurst continued his assault on the UNO record book, and the Mavs skated away from a weekend series against Saint Cloud St. with three out of four points. Broadhurst's late goal on Saturday propelled UNO to a 4-3 lead, and the two teams ended the series with a 2-2 deadlock Sunday afternoon.
Matt White, Brent Gwidt and Ryan Walters each had two goals over the winter break and UNO finished 2011 with a 2-1-1 record in its final four games of the calendar year. Although UNO was looking for three wins in four games, going 2-1-1 over the break at least avoided disaster. Anything less may have ruined a less than impressive NCAA tournament resume.
Three weeks after the Mavs conquered the Bemidji St. jinx, UNO allowed once-winless Alabama-Huntsville their first victory of the year and split a non-conference series against the Chargers in Nashville. Huntsville who came into the game 0-14-1 thus far in the season, hadn't won a game since last year's 2-1 overtime victory in Omaha.
Last season UNO was picked to finish eighth and ninth in two preseason conference polls, partly because of their youth and inexperience.
The Mavs had never skated in the ultra-competitive WCHA, and 10 of the teams' 25 members were freshmen, new to the college game. Experience in the WCHA won't be an issue this season.
When Ryan Massa suited up to start in net for UNO's exhibition against the U.S. Under-18 Team, the consequences may not have been clear. According to NCAA rules, any student-athlete past freshman year surrenders his or her redshirt for participation in an exhibition game.
Thus, Massa's time between the pipes just weeks after rejoining the program means he is now officially using his second year of college eligibility.
For the second year in row UNO sat in position to take home ice over the last two weekends of the season but failed to earn a single point and slid all the way down to seventh place. Last year the downward spiral sent the Mavs to St. Cloud State where the losing streak extended into the first round of the WCHA.