OMAHA, Neb. — There was no Thanksgiving hangover for Nebraska-Omaha Friday night.
In front of 7,901 at Qwest Center Omaha, the Mavericks pounded away at No.7 Massachusetts and came away with a 7-2 upset, snapping an 11-game non-conference unbeaten streak for the Minutemen.
UMass-Amherst played just last Tuesday in a tough game against Vermont, but Minutemen head coach Don Cahoon said that wasn’t a factor Friday.
“We usually practice on Tuesdays and our practices are every bit as hard as a game,” Cahoon said. “I thought we ran into a team that was very passionate. They were very prepared for us and we didn’t do much to offset that.”
UNO continued their success on the power play with four man advantage goals, and senior forward Andrew Wong recorded a hat trick.
“He’s been slowly picking up all season long and we’ve been waiting for him to explode,” UNO head coach Mike Kemp said of Wong. “He’s been doing good things without the puck and it’s nice to have it go in for him. He has good hockey instincts.”
The Mavericks struck swiftly in the first period when Dan Hacker scored his fourth of the season at exactly two minutes of the first period. Hacker, streaking through the slot, finished off a Kaleb Betts feed from the low circle.
UMass got their own power play goal to tie the game just under seven minutes later. Minutemen phenom Thomas Pock fired a shot from the blue line that sailed wide but popped out on the other side of the net for Kevin Jarman who scored the slam dunk goal.
In the second and third periods, UNO just pulled away with three goals in each frame. Wong got two unusual goals in the second period. The first came from a Jason Krischuk shot that looked to be in the net before Wong poked it and the second pinballed around the crease, with Wong there, and shot into the back of the net. Still, Wong got credit for both.
John Luszcz pulled the Minutemen within one goal in the middle of the second by ripping a wrister past UNO’s Chris Holt, but Wong’s second goal of the second gave UNO a 4-2 lead.
Neither goaltender saw an abundance of rubber as the teams only combined for 48 shots. UMass’s Gabe Winer was victimized for seven goals on 24 Maverick shots while Holt allowed two goals on 20 shots.
With College Sports Television in town for their live game of the week, the Mavericks figured they would showcase a few programs of their own for the national audience. Subplots abound:
Seventh Heaven: For the second time this season, UNO scored seven goals in beating the No. 7 Minutemen. The last time the Mavericks beat a ranked opponent was on Jan. 25, 2003 when UNO completed a sweep of Ohio State, then ranked No.7. It was the most goals the Minutemen had allowed this year.
Any Given Friday: With the win, UNO improved to 4-8-1 on the year, with all four of the wins coming on the last four Friday nights. UNO has scored 20 goals in their last four Friday contests, well more than half of their season output of 34 goals. The downside is UNO is has allowed 21 goals in five Saturday games on the year.
The Andrew Wong Show: Maverick senior forward Andrew Wong, known primarily as a setup guy with 30 goals and 68 assists in 126 games with UNO, scored three goals and added an assist Friday to record the program’s third hat trick. The feat had not been accomplished by a Mav since Allan Carr on Dec. 2, 2000. “Those weren’t the prettiest goals, those weren’t goal scorer goals,” Wong said. “Its a result of being in the right spot at the right time and going to the net.”
The Rookies: UNO got three goals and five assists from their talented freshman corps. Kaleb Betts had two goals and an assist and Maverick leading scorer Scott Parse had a goal and an assist. Freshman goaltender Chris Holt was solid in net allowing two goals on 20 shots.
Amherst 53337: The Mavericks got their fifth win over UMass-Amherst Friday night, improving their record against the Minutemen to 5-1. The Minutemen’s only win over UNO came in their first match-up on Nov. 7, 1997, by a score of 3-2. Since then the Mavericks have gone 5-0 registering goal totals of 5, 3, 3, 3, and 7 on Friday.
Groundhog Day: The two teams will wake up to face each other again Saturday night for the fall series finale.