BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The Marshall Plan worked to perfection for the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks on Friday night.
Junior center Bryan Marshall recorded a natural hat trick in the opening period — the first such hat trick in Nebraska-Omaha history — as his Mavericks rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Bowling Green Falcons.
The Livonia, Mich., native came into the game with four goals to his credit this season. He nearly doubled that total in one period, giving his team a three-goal cushion that was more than enough to hold off the Falcons.
With the victory, the Mavericks own a two-game win streak, something they haven’t possessed since late October.
“It was good for us to get off to an early start,” said Marshall. “To come out and score the first goal, and get a little confidence. The second one comes, and it makes the game a little bit easier.”
Marshall’s first two goals came via a power play that is currently ranked second in the CCHA. He netted his first goal at the 12:13 mark of the period, then scored again just over five minutes later.
His hat trick tally came with just under a minute to play in the period. UNO head coach Mike Kemp didn’t realize Marshall had recorded the hat trick until he got into the locker room during the first intermission.
“Quite honestly, I didn’t even know he had it,” said Kemp. “At the end of the first period, I had to look at the scoresheet to figure it out. At the time, a couple of those goals were down in tight. He had a couple of guys hacking away at it. I didn’t realize he scored all three of them.”
“[Marshall] is a streaky scorer for us. He had a real hot streak in early November, and then he bounced back last week and played well. And tonight, he gets rewarded.”
After playing a brutal schedule over the last four weeks (Alaska, Michigan, Miami, and Notre Dame) the Mavericks came into BG’s barn playing against a team desperate to get a win.
“We had a tough November, and we’re glad it’s behind us now,” said Kemp. “The win last Saturday night [against Notre Dame] helped, and tonight’s [win] helps even more. We only have two more points to gain in league play until the 5th and 6th of January. This kind of puts an exclamation point on tomorrow night’s game for us.”
Bowling Green’s offense and special teams struggles continued against the Mavs. BG has scored just two goals in its last four games, and is currently riding one of the program’s toughest stretches since the ’90-’91 season.
“I like the effort put forth, but ultimately, we took way too many penalties against a really good offensive hockey team,” said BG head coach Scott Paluch. “We had opportunities at five-on-five and on our power play to give us a chance to be successful, and get out of this scoring drought. But, ultimately, we just played way too much of the game shorthanded.”
Paluch said his team needs to keep doing the little things in order to get off a seven-game losing skid.
“I think you saw it tonight. We’ve been in a streak where we’ve gotten down early,” said Paluch. “But you saw a team [tonight] scratching and fighting. That’s what we expect. And that’s the only way that this is going to turn. We need the blocked shots. We need to finish checks, and those are the things that are going to get us through this.”
One piece of good news for the Falcons was the return of senior winger James Unger. He played in his first contest since injuring his wrist at the beginning of the season.
“We were able to get a half a game out of him,” remarked Paluch. “I thought he did a pretty good job. As expected, [the wrist] got a little tight on him, so he wasn’t able to go the rest of the way. It was a good start for James.
“For a team that’s fighting it now, offensively, we look for that spark. When he’s full strength and really back, he’ll be able to help in that area.”
After the Marshall hat trick, the Mavericks increased their lead to 4-0 at 12:00 of the second period on their third power-play tally of the night. Tomas Klempa notched his fifth goal of the season as he stuffed a loose puck between the post and the goaltender’s left skate. Scott Parse and Juha Uotila assisted on the play.
The Falcons got on the board later in the period. Kai Kantola found a loose puck on the doorstep and jammed it under the goaltender’s pads for an apparent goal. After review, the goal was quickly awarded to the freshman, his second of the year. Todd McIlrath and Mike Nesdill assisted on the power-play goal.
Freshman goaltender Jerimie DuPont picked up the win for UNO. The Ontario native stopped 24 of the 25 shots he faced on the night. Jimmy Spratt took the loss for the Falcons, with 31 saves in 35 attempts.
The Maverick power play finished 3 for 9, while the Falcons were 1 of 7.
The two teams will meet again in the series finale Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.