KALAMAZOO, MICH. — Nebraska-Omaha goaltender Dan Ellis made 26 saves on the evening, while Andrew Wong, Jeff Hoggan, and Aaron Smith each registered a goal and an assist to lead the No. 6 Mavericks to a 4-1 victory over Western Michigan.
WMU head coach Jim Culhane knows that shot totals aren’t indicative of the game.
“You got to get some quality shots though,” said Culhane. “We talked about that before the game and all week long. Danny Ellis is such a good player for them in net that shooting stuff from the perimeter on the outside, he’s going to save [them].
“We shot from the outside. It’s almost like playing catch with the first baseman.”
Hoggan scored the game-winning goal while shorthanded at 12:11 in the second period while Smith cemented the win with an empty net goal with one second remaining in the game. WMU freshman goaltender Mike Mantua struggled on the evening, allowing three goals on 17 shots.
UNO head coach Mike Kemp talked about how Ellis rebounded from a slow start.
“He’s been very solid for us after the first two week. Since Colgate, he’s been very sound, he’s been seeing the puck. Like any team, you rely on your goaltender to carry you, and he’s certainly given us the opportunity to win hockey games because of the way he’s been playing.”
UNO took the lead early at 1:31 when Mantua deflected a weak shot from Wong along the goal line into his own net to put the Mavericks (7-4-0, 4-1-0 CCHA) up 1-0.
The teams exchanged penalties in the second period and freshman Anthony Adams thought he gave the Mavericks a two-goal lead, but referee Kevin Hall called off the goal after Adams kicked it past Mantua.
UNO made up for that call after junior Kyle O’Keefe was penalized for hooking when Hoggan deflected in a shot shorthanded from freshman Dan Hacker after a WMU turnover to give the Mavericks the lead 2-0 at 12:11 in the second period.
The Broncos (3-4-2, 2-4-1 CCHA) cut the lead in half at 7:46 on the power play when freshman Pat Dwyer wristed a rebound from sophomore Mike Jarmuth past a grounded Ellis from the left face off circle.
Adams wouldn’t be denied on his second goal when he trickled a shot past Mantua at 11:03 to give the Mavericks another two-goal lead at 3-1.
Smith iced the game at 19:59 after taking a pass from Shane Glover and put the puck in an empty WMU net to bring the game to it’s final score of 4-1. Shots finished in favor of the Broncos, 27-18.
Kemp wasn’t completely satisfied with UNO’s performance.
“You talk about greasy wins, this was one of those greasy wins. It doesn’t matter how you win, it’s just a matter of fact that you do win. We won ugly tonight.”
Kemp also gave credit to the defensive play.
“[WMU] does a great job clogging up the neutral ice, and when they did a great job clogging up the neutral ice. We were not able to get the puck into the offensive zone.”
The two teams face off again Saturday, 7:05 p.m. at Lawson Ice Arena in Kalamazoo.