OMAHA, Neb. — The official colors of the University of Nebraska at Omaha may be crimson and black, but green may be a better color to describe the Maverick hockey team. After scoring the first goal of the game, the University of Manitoba came back and scored a goal in both the first and second periods and three in the third to win Sunday night’s exhibition 5-2 at the new Qwest Center Omaha.
One of about a dozen of UNO’s new faces, Scott Parse, scored the first-ever goal at the $291 million “Phone Booth” midway through the first period, erupting the crowd of 9,312.
“It felt great,” Parse said. “It was good to get my first college goal and it was good to get it out of the way.”
It would be the only time the Mavericks had the lead. Michael Manley scored his first of two goals for Manitoba with just over a minute left in the first period, tying the game heading into the first intermission.
After that pointit was Manitoba took over the game. Kevin Saurette scored a power-play goal at 1:34 of the second period and the Bisons never looked back.
“We had to play a very smart game plan to have success tonight,” Manitoba coach Mike Sirant said. “Its not that we won, but how we won, with the execution of our plan.”
Early in the third, the execution was over as Paul Deniset scored the game winning goal, the second power-play goal for the Bisons. Anthony Adams scored for UNO to make the game 3-2, but Manitoba got two more, including an empty-netter by Manley to secure the win.
With such a young team, UNO coach Mike Kemp knew that the game would be a challenge for his squad. Kemp said things were going smoothly in the first period, but the wheels fell off.
“We dominated the first period and played with the kind of work ethic that I expect to see from our team. We made them play the way we wanted,” Kemp said. “After the first period, we played they way they wanted to play and they are much better at that than we are. We did some undisciplined things that hurt our team.”
With the loss of goalie Dan Ellis, all-time scorer David Brisson and defenseman Greg Zanon, the Mavericks are looking at their youngest squad since their inaugural 1997 season.
“We’re extremely green. This is going to be part of the process, we are a green team that needs a lot of growing up,” Kemp said. “This is a great game for us in a sense that it gives a chance to see how we react to adversity.”
The Maverick players themselves weren’t so easy on themselves, but seemed to keep matters in perspective.
“If we would have came out and won 6-0, I would have been hugging and kissing you,” Turner said. “That adjustment period is going to unfold in front of everyone’s eyes. It’s going to take time for our identity to come out. But, I’m not going to lie, I’m absolutely embarrassed. They were laughing in my face when I shook their hand.”
UNO actually outshot Manitoba 38-20 but Manitoba did well clogging the defensive zone and not allowing UNO to get second shots. As with previous exhibitions, UNO played all three of its goalies. Senior Brian Haaland started and made six saves on seven shots, Kris Tebbs equaled Haaland and rookie Chris Holt allowed two goals on six shots.
UNO will host the Maverick Stampede next weekend. The early game Friday features a rematch of last year’s NCAA championship game between Maine and Minnesota. The late game will be UNO against Wisconsin.