By Nate Tenopir – Senior Staff Writer
After blazing to a 4-0 lead on Friday night and holding on for a 4-2 victory, the 6-1 Maverick loss to Michigan on Saturday night was something of a disappointment. Yet despite the loss, the UNO coaches have to have been pleased with the Mavs’ 5-1 start.
While the Mavs were impressive at Minnesota last weekend, the trip to Michigan and Yost Ice Arena was a completely different story. Though the Gophers are a traditionally tough team at home, they’ve been slow starters the last two years.
Michigan, on the other hand, has been a consistent thorn in the sides of the Mavs especially in Ann Arbor. In 15 tries at Yost, UNO had only come away with one win, six years ago.
Also, unlike Minnesota, the Wolverines are a top-five team and are picked to win the CCHA. Take into account the fact that only seven Mavs had experienced Yost Ice Arena before and the odds for success were certainly minimal.
However, if there’s one thing we’ve learned this year, it’s that this team might just be young enough not to realize what it’s up against. Many UNO teams with far more experience have traveled to Ann Arbor and been embarrassed.
On Friday, it was youth that made the difference. Either freshmen or sophomores scored all four of the goals on Friday.
Forwards Ryan Walters, Brock Montpetit and Matt White, all freshmen, scored three of the goals while forward Terry Broadhurst, a sophomore, added a fourth. White, a standout on last year’s Omaha Lancer’s team, has five goals in six games to start his Maverick career.
Much like last week, UNO jumped out to a big lead Friday night against the Wolverines. Walters’ goal with almost four minutes remaining in the first made it 1-0. Broadhurst scored 3:40 into the second then was followed by Montpetit at 9:03 and White at 15:22 to take a commanding 4-0 lead into the second intermission.
While Michigan was able to score two goals in the third period, UNO never faltered and hung on for a surprising 4-2 win. On Saturday the Wolverines put one past sophomore goaltender John Faulkner just eight seconds into the game and never looked back.
After Faulker gave up two more, he was pulled for redshirt freshman Fredrik Bergman, who let in three more. Despite being pulled on Saturday night, Faulkner has been a big-time goaltender.
Junior forward Alex Hudson scored the only UNO goal of the game on a power play late in the second as the Mavs suffered their first loss of the year, 6-1.
While many of the players and staff had hoped to come into the WCHA and put up a good showing in their first season, expectations might be shifting dramatically. The coaches and members of the media who picked UNO to finish eighth and ninth in the conference may be rethinking their selections.