TROY, N.Y. — The Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks took the lead in the first period and never looked back in defeating Holy Cross 6-1 and winning the 55th annual Rensselaer Holiday Hockey Tournament.
“We started this season hoping that we would play in four tournaments (Maverick Stampede, RPI Holiday Tournament, CCHA Tournament and NCAA Tournament), and our objective was to win all four, and now we’ve won two of them,” said Maverick head coach Mike Kemp. “Now hopefully we can continue the momentum.”
UNO took a lead in the first period on the power play. Passing above the circles on the umbrella, Alex Nikiforuk sent the pass to Dan Knapp at the top on the blueline. Knapp blasted one that deflected off a Crusader defender over the left shoulder of Tony Quesada.
UNO added to the lead when the puck cycled itself behind the net to Dan Charleston, who stuffed it past Quesada.
The Crusaders got on the board with a power-play goal as Pierre Napert-Frennette took a shot from the high slot that got past Jerad Kaufmann, but the Mavericks took back the two-goal lead as J.P. Platisha put one in from the left of Quesada.
“That line of Platisha, Charleston and (Tomas) Klempa gave us a spark tonight,” said Kemp. “We were able to apply the pressure in the offensive zone, and they gave us the energy we needed.”
The Mavericks added three goals in the third period from Nikiforuk, Adam Bartholomay and Bill Thomas to seal the 6-3 victory.
“They were just coming at us and we can’t give up odd-man rushes like that,” said Crusader head coach Paul Pearl. “Some of it was us, but we’ll learn from that and we’ll hopefully get better.”
Most Valuable Player Jerad Kaufmann made 15 saves in the victory and a total of 52 on the weekend. His counterpart Quesada made 27 saves.
“It’s really important for us to get solid goaltending, and we haven’t had it all year long yet,” said Kemp. “It was the first time we played him back-to-back nights, and I thought he handled it pretty well and I am happy to see him step up in that role.”
Holy Cross (7-3-1) will head to Canisius for a pair of games next weekend, while UNO (7-6-0) will host Ferris State next Friday and Sunday for a pair of CCHA games.
“It’s a good boost for us for the four games before Christmas break before we get Ferris State and Michigan,” said Kemp. “Any kind of momentum we can get right now is a positive.”
The All-Tournament Team consisted of three Nebraska-Omaha forwards, Dan Charleston, Bryan Marshall and Alex Nikiforuk. The defense was comprised of Maverick Phil Angell and Holy Cross’ Jon Landry. The goaltender was RPI’s Mathias Lange, and Kaufmann was named the Most Valuable Player.
Next season’s tournament will feature Ohio State, Colgate and Niagara, in addition to RPI.