When Tyler Weiss put Omaha ahead with 12:06 left in the third period Friday night, it looked promising on the home side. Still holding a 3-2 lead with less than five minutes remaining, the Mavericks looked to be closing in on their first conference win of the season and their eighth consecutive win overall. Then a 19-second stretch happened.
With 4:25 left in regulation, Miami forward Matthew Barbolini tied the game, 3-3. Just 19 seconds later, Miami defenseman Derek Daschke fired one from the point that found its way past Isaiah Saville, giving Miami a 4-3 lead and an eventual 4-3 win.
“Obviously, a tough loss,” said Omaha head coach Mike Gabinet. “I thought we deserved a better fate there, but that’s how the game is sometimes. I think they had three shots in the third period and two of them were goals — I don’t even know if they had five scoring chances all game.
“It’s one of those things that happens sometimes in the game, but we also can’t use that as an excuse. We have to find a way to put teams away, find a way to not give up any opportunities and we’ve got to learn from this as well. That’s a tough one.”
In a game where Omaha largely dominated Miami on the stat sheet, the Mavericks outshot the RedHawks 35-13, including 13-3 in the third period. However, two of those three third-period shots ended up finding their way into the Omaha net. It’s the fourth consecutive season the Mavericks have lost their conference opener and started 0-1 in NCHC play.
As frustrating as it was to not see the chances lead to results, Gabinet quipped after the game that if his team repeats this performance the rest of the year, they’ll win 29 out of 30 games.
“We’ve just got to stick to the game plan,” said sophomore forward Brock Bremer. “Tonight I thought we played well for 50 plus minutes, but at the end of the day we lost three points — three big points at the beginning of conference play.”
Bremer gave the Mavericks a 1-0 lead 51 seconds into the contest. However, that fast start would end up being overshadowed by the disappointing finish. Assisted by Kevin Conley and Jimmy Glynn, Bremer threw a puck in front of the net on a wraparound attempt, which caromed in off the stick of a Miami defender.
Bremer was called for slashing Miami goaltender Ludvig Persson after the whistle exactly four minutes later, and 54 seconds into that ensuing power play, Matt Barry hammered home the equalizer from the far circle. Just over four minutes later, Thomas Daskas tipped a Robby Drazner shot home to give the RedHawks a 2-1 lead.
However, the next two goals came from Weiss. His first one came 6:52 into the second period, just moments after he rang one off the crossbar, and his second of the night 7:54 into the third period. That second goal, which gave Omaha a late 3-2 lead, was set up by a beautiful stretch feed from Kirby Proctor.
“Kirby made a good pass to me at center ice,” Weiss said. “Just tried to make a move and got a good chance to score.”
The RedHawks did the rest of the scoring from that point on as Barbolini and Daschke capitalized when it mattered most.
“That’s how tough this game is nowadays,” Weiss said. “You just can’t relax because, if you make a mistake, before you know it, the puck is in the back of the net and you’re trailing.”
It’s a team that continues to have Omaha’s number, as Miami has now won six of the last meetings between the two schools. The win snapped a five-game winless skid for the RedHawks, who entered this series at 1-4-1 overall.
It also snapped the Mavericks’ winning streak at seven, which was one short of tying the school record set during the 2001-02 season.
“That’s how it goes,” Gabinet said. “You can’t feel sorry for yourself, nobody does, and you’ve got to earn your own luck and hopefully get rewarded at some time.”
Gabinet said after the game the mood around the group was a “stunned feeling,” but it’s up to them to get back to work. Only two previous teams in Omaha’s program history have won eight of their first 10 games, which the Mavericks have a chance to do with a win on Saturday.
“Look at the good things that we did,” Bremer said. “We didn’t get the results tonight that we wanted, but we’ll find the good things, work on the bad things and just keep going out and sticking to the game plan. Because it’s not going to change.
Game two between Omaha and Miami is set for 7:07 p.m. on Saturday night.
News and notes
- Miami now leads the all-time series 27-20-7.
- The RedHawks were without their leading scorer, Joe Cassetti (sick), Friday night along with defenseman Hampus Rydqvist (upper-body). Bowling Green transfer and defenseman Will Cullen, who missed last weekend’s series for Miami, did return.
- Bremer’s goal was his first of the season and the seventh of his career.
- With an assist on Weiss’ first goal, Taylor Ward has a 12-game point streak that goes back to last season.
- Isaiah Saville finished the night with just nine saves (his lowest total of the season) on the 13 Miami shots.
- Omaha was 0-for-4 on the power play. The RedHawks converted on their only chance.
- Western Michigan defeated Minnesota Duluth 4-3, North Dakota beat Denver 3-1 and St. Cloud State had a 3-2 overtime win against Colorado College Friday night to open NCHC play.