OMAHA, Neb. — Brandon Scero’s second career hat trick and two goals by Nick Fanto helped push the Mavericks past Bowling Green, 7-5, and a sweep of a best-of-three CCHA playoff series Saturday night at Qwest Center Omaha.
The Mavericks move on to the second round of the CCHA playoffs at Michigan State Friday in another best-of-three series.
UNO improved to 18-14-8 with the two-game sweep of the Falcons, who fell to 7-29-2. The Mavericks won Friday night, 3-2, in overtime.
Scero scored three of the Mavericks’ final four goals, offsetting a CCHA playoff-record four-goal outburst in the first period by Bowling Green senior James Unger that produced a 4-3 lead at the first intermission.
Scero’s first, at 6:20 of the second, tied the game and his second, at 13:12, on a power play, gave the Mavericks a 5-4 lead.
The Falcons struck back, tying the game in the third period on a power-play goal by Derek Whitmore from the slot at 8:18 against sophomore goalie Jerad Kaufmann, who played the final two periods for UNO.
The lead lasted less than three minutes before Scero swept the puck past BG goalie Jimmy Spratt from just outside the right slot at the 10:57 mark for his 18th of the season to complete his hat trick.
Defenseman Mark Bernier added an insurance goal when he scored his third of the year from the top of the right circle at 12:06. Kaufmann and the Mavs rode out the final eight minutes, including a six-on-four BG advantage in the final minute when the Falcons pulled Spratt for an extra skater on a power play.
Kaufmann turned aside 11 shots after Dupont made five stops the opening period.
Unger, who had just two goals in the regular season, scored once on Friday and opened scoring Saturday just 1:44 into the contest.
The Mavs tied on a power-play goal by Eddie DelGrosso, but Unger tallied his second 2:33 later for a 2-1 lead. Nick Fanto then scored twice in just 45 seconds for a 3-2 UNO edge. But Unger retaliated with his third and fourth goals just 3:04 apart to boost BG into a 4-3 lead.
Unger’s performance topped the previous CCHA playoff record of three goals in a period set by two other players. Teammate John Mazzei tied the league playoff mark for assists in a period with three.
Scero, who earlier this year set a school record with four goals in a game, now is second on the team in goals with 18. He also had an assist for a four-point night.