OMAHA, Neb. — It was a classic, grinding one-goal hockey game. Or as Nebraska-Omaha coach Mike Kemp called it, “a Dan Ellis kind of win.”
Ellis stopped 32 of 34 shots as the Mavericks, after spotting Miami two goals, clawed their way back to a 3-2 win in each team’s conference opener at the Civic Auditorium.
With just 2:04 left in the game, UNO’s top penalty killer, Greg Zanon, was sent to the penalty box for slashing, giving Miami the opportunity with the man advantage.
However, UNO turned the tide when David Brisson and Scotty Turner skated in on a shorthanded 2-on-1 break. Brisson fed Turner, who buried the shot past Miami goalie David Burleigh and gave UNO the win.
“When you’re winning 2-0 and you let one slip away, it’s pretty disappointing,” Burleigh said. “We just got away from what we were doing the first period or so. No way on a power play at the end of the game you can give up an opportunity like that.”
Up until that point, Miami took the Mavericks out of their game. The Redhawks took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Pat Levendusky scored just 1:09 into the game, which quieted the crowd and put UNO on its heels early. UNO failed to respond and the Redhawks took advantage with a shorthander late in the period.
Right off the draw, Greg Hogeboom received the pass and rifled it just under the crossbar to put Miami up two goals 16:22 into the game.
“For some reason we weren’t prepared. If we want to win a hockey game we have to show up for 60 minutes; tonight, I think we showed up for 20,” Brisson said. “But it only takes one shot to win a hockey game, and we got a break.”
Ellis took over and saved 21 shots in the last two periods, giving UNO the opportunity to chip away at the lead.
In the second period, rookie David Morelli scored his first goal of the season. Down 2-1 after two periods, the Mavericks tied the game 33 seconds into the third on Brisson’s stick-side goal.
“In the locker room we talked about how we needed to come out hard in the third and get a goal right away,” Brisson said. “After that goal, the momentum changed.”
With the game tied 2-2 and Zanon in the box, overtime loomed. Kemp admitted that “at that point I was just keeping my fingers crossed to get into overtime.”
Turner’s shorthanded goal prevented the Mavericks’ second overtime in three games in Omaha, and dropped Miami’s record in the Aud to 1-4.
UNO is 2-1, with each of the three games decided by one goal. Miami fell to 3-2, but has scored 24 goals and averaged 43.2 shots in its five games.
Miami outshot UNO 34-27, which made the play of Ellis that much more important.
“Ellis was absolutely solid in goal,” Kemp said. “We’ve kind of come to the conclusion that we may give up a few more shots than we get. But Dan Ellis is Dan Ellis and we can afford to do that because he is going to make the stops.”
The two teams complete the series Saturday night.