OMAHA, Neb. — In a perfect world for Alaska-Fairbanks coach Guy Gadowsky, his team would play Nebraska-Omaha every game all season.
With a 3-2 win Saturday, the Nanooks are now 6-0-3 against the Mavericks in their last nine meetings, with the last seven ending in ties or one-goal decisions.
“We’re just lucky. All the games have been so close, we have had great goaltending here, and that’s a big part of it,” Gadowsky said.
Dropping a pair of one-goal conference matches didn’t sit well with the Mavericks, who seemed to note an internal struggle as well as UAF’s intensity.
“It’s more than puzzling. We’re trying to find that key right now, the missing piece,” Andrew Wong said. “We need to look at each individual guy and find out what they are not bringing. We can’t win games with under 20 shots.”
After a season-high 43 shots Friday, matters changed drastically for UNO, which had just 17 Saturday. Preston McKay made 15 saves in net for UAF, enough to give Fairbanks two more points.
Dan Ellis stopped 33 of 36 shots, but again fell one save short.
“Ellis is a great goaltender, I feel Preston matched him and made some great saves of his own,” Gadowsky said. “Especially when we were down he kept us in the game.”
Joel Andresen scored his first collegiate goal on a rocket slapshot to put the Mavericks up 1-0 late in the first period. Fairbanks tied the game in the second period, skating four-on-four, when Blaine Bablitz deflected a shot past Ellis.
UNO answered back as Wong and David Brisson skated in on a give-and-go which Wong sent home for his third goal of the year.
Late in the period, David Keough went off the ice bloody as he slid to block a shot and took the puck to the side of the face. Keough got his revenge, however, by coming back to tie the game 1:49 into the second period.
“Isn’t that great? That’s just old-time hockey, aye. Its great to see and makes it just a little more sweet for a guy like him that takes that shot, gets sliced up a bit and comes back and scores,” Gadowsky said.
Jared Sylvestre then scored his second goal of the weekend, the game-winner 4:42 into the third. Sylvestre skated through the slot uncovered and Russel Spence fed the puck across to where Sylvestre shoveled a backhander just under the crossbar.
The Nanooks improved to 3-6-1 with the sweep and got back on track with their first four points in the CCHA. The Nanooks will take next week off.
“Right now it’s exactly what we needed, but the future is still on our hands,” Gadowsky said.
UNO fell to 3-6-1 and will also have the next week off.
That gives both teams a chance to do opposite things: UAF to build, UNO to rebuild.
“We’re certainly not playing with any consistency. We’re making way too many mental mistakes,” Maverick coach Mike Kemp said. “We’ve gone through several weeks where I felt going into the weekend we’ve had a good frame of mind, and then we don’t have that translate in the game.”