SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — For the second straight night, the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks waited until the last 10 minutes to kick their game into gear. Saturday, however, it took some late heroics to salvage the game.
With just nine seconds left in the game and the Mavs’ goalie pulled, Bryan Marshall scored from just outside the crease to tie the game 3-3 and earn Nebraska-Omaha (16-12-4, 12-10-4 CCHA) an all-important point against Lake Superior (8-17-7, 7-11-6 CCHA) in the CCHA standings.
“We’re ecstatic to get any points out of this game,” said Mavs head coach Mike Kemp. “With ten minutes left in the game it wasn’t looking good. [The Lakers] deserve credit for putting up a hell of a fight.”
After calling a timeout and pulling the goalie with 1:15 left in the third, Nebraska-Omaha kept the pressure on behind the net before Scott Parse was able to pass the puck through the crease to Marshall.
“Our guys went where they needed to and did what they needed to do to get the goal,” said Kemp.
Lakers coach Frank Anzalone thought his players displayed a tough effort in the final minute, but credited the Mavs’ superior personnel with the goal.
“Our guys on the ice did a wonderful job, but their talented players found a way to tie the game,” Anzalone said. “That’s why they’re in fourth place and we’re in ninth.”
Down 3-1 with ten minutes left in the game, Brent Kisio brought the puck in deep and beat Jeff Jakaitis on the short side for his first goal of the year to bring the Mavericks within one goal.
“He had quite a few points for us last year and had some key goals for us,” Kemp said about Kisio. “To get that goal tonight was a big confidence boost for him.”
For the second straight night, Alex Dunn opened the scoring for the Lakers. He took a cross-ice pass from B.J. Pelkey, barely staying onside before walking in on Mavs goaltender Chris Holt and burying the puck to make the game 1-0.
Nebraska-Omaha answered two minutes into the second stanza when Brandon Scero beat Jakaitis on a three-on-two rush to tie the game at 1-1.
Pelkey and Nathan Ward each scored for the Lakers in the second period to make the game 3-1 going into the third.
With the Lakers in both games this weekend and only having one point to show, Anzalone was disappointed with the results.
“We played well enough to win, but [on the other hand] we only played well enough to tie or lose,” said Anzalone. “[UNO] is a good team, but in our building I think we should get something accomplished and we didn’t.”
After Friday night’s loss, Anzalone shook up his lineup, benching goalie Matt Violin and forward Jeff Rainville and opting to start seven defensemen.
“The one thing we are doing is seriously evaluating the players in our program,” Anzalone said. “We just need to keep getting a better player all the time to mix with some of the players we have.”
As the standings sit, these two teams would meet in Omaha for the first round of the playoffs.
“We’ve had a battle with them every time we’ve played them this year,” said Kemp. “They would present a hell of a challenge for us.”
The Mavericks finish up their regular season next weekend when they host Alaska-Fairbanks at the Qwest Center. The Mavs currently are one point ahead of Bowling Green, who has two games in hand on Nebraska. The Lakers will make the trek to Kalamazoo to take on Western Michigan.