No. 6 Denver dominates in Omaha


Justin Kies

The struggling Omaha hockey team hosted the sixth-ranked Pioneers of Denver University this past weekend (Mar. 1 and 2) in what proved to be yet another forgetful series for the Mavericks.

Friday evening’s game began with Denver capitalizing during an early power play. The Pioneers’ Michael Davies found the back of the net a little over midway through the first period to give DU a 1-0 lead on the road. Not too long after, DU’s Jarid Lukosevicius slipped a nice shot past UNO’s Evan Weninger to lift the Pioneers’ lead to two.

The Mavericks were able to escape the first period without any more punishment from Denver’s offense and after the break quickly answered on their home ice. Omaha’s Taylor Ward put the puck in the back of the net for what would turn out to be the Mavericks’ only goal of the evening.

UNO looked poised to make a comeback entering the third period only down 2-1, but the Pioneers would prove to be too much to handle on Friday night. Denver held the Mavs off for the remainder of the game while adding two late goals off the sticks of Jaakko Heikkinen and Cole Guttman to win the game 4-1.

Saturday’s intense matchup was the last regular season home game for the Mavericks this year. Denver took the lead first, per usual, when Kyle Mayhew scored his first goal of the season. Omaha responded a short 60 seconds later when Ward assisted Dean Stewart to tie it up 1-1 before the end of the first period.

Once again, the Mavericks would let a close one slip away. Denver scored twice and UNO’s Kevin Conley once during the second period to make it 3-2 in favor of the Pioneers prior to the third period of action.

Conley’s hot hand continued into the third when he found the back of the net once more before time expired at Baxter Arena, forcing an overtime for the second time this year between the two teams.

The first overtime period featured both powerhouse offenses being shutout as each team would earn a point in NCHC play before heading into the three-on-three, second overtime period for an extra point.

The entire fan base in Baxter Arena was on their feet for what could have been UNO’s first win over DU in the 2018-19 season. But the Pioneers capitalized on a fast break getting the puck past Weninger and won the extra point.

Omaha fell to 9-20-3 overall, 5-15-2 in conference play, and will travel to face NCHC rival North Dakota Mar. 8 and 9 for their final regular-season series before the conference tournament. Denver moved up to third place in the NCHC while UNO remains in 8th place.