Heading into the 2013-14 season, a quick look at Nebraska-Omaha’s first seven games made it seem as though that slate could serve as a springboard to help the Mavericks jump into NCHC play in November with some momentum on their side.
Unfortunately for UNO though, that’s not the way things have worked out.
After breezing by the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology 6-1 in an exhibition game Oct. 7, the Mavericks have finished their October slate of official games with a 2-4-0 record. This includes UNO’s current three-game losing streak, compounded by a sweep at home at the hands of No. 19 Cornell last weekend.
There were some good things that the Mavericks did against the Big Red, including outshooting Cornell 71-33 on the weekend and 40-13 Saturday.
UNO’s discipline let the team down catastrophically though, with the visitors scoring three power play goals in a come-from-behind 5-3 win Friday before prevailing 4-3 in a rematch where all four of the Big Red’s goals came while on the man-advantage.
Goal-scoring certainly hasn’t been a problem for UNO, as it notched six last weekend and is averaging 3.17 goals scored per game. That’s not incredible – Northeastern and Providence are both leading the country with an eye-popping even five per game – but netting three goals per game will at least keep you in with a chance to win.
What’s killing the Mavericks are their penalty numbers (52 already so far this season for 123 minutes) and currently Division I’s second-worst penalty killing units (29-for-44, or 65.9 percent).
Averaging 20:30 worth of penalties per night doesn’t inherently mean that’s all all-you-can-eat time for the opposition, but no team can afford to put itself in a situation that dire and expect to succeed.
Things could potentially get worse for UNO before they – and the Mavericks – get better. Denver, No. 5 North Dakota, No. 4 Michigan and No. 6 Miami all await the Mavericks in the month of November.
One last bit of food for thought on this subject: Those four teams have, respectively, Division I’s 11th, 26th (tied with Lake Superior), fourth and ninth-best power play units so far this season.
Minnesota-Duluth upsets second-ranked Irish
Likely feeling a little better coming into the new week is Minnesota-Duluth, which gave No. 2 Notre Dame a run for its money in a 3-2 loss Friday in Duluth before upending the Fighting Irish 4-1 in the rematch.
UMD won’t play at home at the AMSOIL Arena again for five weeks, but the Bulldogs made sure Saturday their fans went home with a good memory to tie them over until St. Cloud State comes to town Dec. 6.
The Bulldogs delivered arguably their best opening-period performance of the season Saturday, opening up a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals coming nine seconds apart in the game’s 14th minute. Upperclassman forwards scored UMD’s first two, with Joe Basaraba roofing a backhanded shot past UND goaltender Chad Katunar at 14:24 before junior Caleb Herbert doubled the hosts’ lead at 14:33.
A pair of freshmen then added what ended up being insurance goals for Duluth.
Dominic Toninato bagged his first collegiate goal just 3:16 after Herbert’s tally, effectively ending Katunar’s night as he was relieved of his duties at the end of the first period. Fighting Irish senior goaltender Steven Summerhays then came in but conceded UMD’s fourth goal without reply, a second of the season from Kyle Osterberg at 10:35 of the night’s middle frame.
The visitors spoiled Bulldog goaltender Aaron Crandall’s shutout attempt at 13:22 of the third period through a power play goal from Austin Wuthrich, but no other rubber found its way into UMD’s net.
The hope for Duluth now is the big win over the Fighting Irish will launch the Bulldogs into a tough November slate where all six games are on the road. Ohio State, North Dakota and top-ranked Minnesota all welcome UMD into their barns next month.
North Dakota forward stretchered off in exhibition
In a scary moment during the second period of North Dakota’s 4-1 exhibition Saturday over the U.S. Under-18 Team, UND forward Drake Caggiula was stretchered off after a collision that resulted in him laying motionless on the Ralph Engelstad Arena ice for roughly ten minutes while medical personnel stabilized him.
Caggiula had tried to hurdle a fallen Under-18 Team player but was upended and fell to the ice with his fall broken by his head-and-shoulder area. He was then taken via ambulance to Grand Forks, N.D.’s Altru Hospital and was released a couple of hours later after undergoing tests.
All tests came back negative. At the time of writing though, it’s unclear whether Caggiula will miss any further amount of time on the ice.