Omaha Ends Their Season in the First Round of the NCHC Tournament

Photo courtesy Maria Nevada

Justin Kies

The UNO Mavericks hockey team played their final game of the 2018-19 season after losing both games to Minnesota Duluth in the first round of the NCHC conference tournament.

Friday night’s game started off with a scoreless, back-and-forth first period that featured several shots on goal, but saw impressive goalie play. Duluth’s Riley Tufte ended the game’s scoring drought only a few minutes into the second period off a nice slap-shot, and UMD would hold that 1-0 lead entering the third period.

The Maverick defense managed to contain Duluth’s high-powered offense for the entire third period and held the Bulldogs to only one goal the entire game. Just when it seemed like UNO’s hopes for a win on Friday were gone, Kevin Conley was able to scrape one past the goalie to tie up the game 1-1 with under a minute left in regulation.

Both offenses struggled to get anything going early on in the extra period but sure enough the Bulldogs would chip away at Omaha’s Evan Weninger, getting one past him off the stick of Nick Swaney to win the game 2-1 after 13 intense OT minutes.

Saturday night would prove to be win or go home for the Mavs, as Minnesota Duluth inched one game closer to the NCHC Frozen Four after their win Friday night. After jumping out to a 1-0 lead off a nice goal from Taylor Ward, the Mavericks looked ready for a game three in hostile territory. Ward’s goal came about halfway through the first period but was quickly answered by Duluth’s Jackson Cates. The Bulldogs would prove to be too much to handle on the road.

Despite entering the second period tied 1-1, Kobe Roth and Cole Koepke joined the fun for Minnesota-Duluth and gave the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead entering the third and final period of UNO’s season. UMD added another goal in the third to cap off the sweep with a 4-1 win on Saturday and Coach Gabinet and company will look turn their attention to the offseason.

With the win, Minnesota-Duluth will advance to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff in St. Paul, Minnesota, in search of a conference championship. The Mavericks ended their 2018-19 season with an overall record of 9-24-3 and a conference record of 5-17-2 in Coach Gabinet’s sophomore campaign.