KALAMAZOO, Mich. — It was certainly a tale of three different periods Sunday afternoon in Lawson Ice Arena, as the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (9-10-3 Overall, 6-7-3 CCHA completed the weekend sweep over the frustrated Western Michigan Broncos, 4-2.
The Broncos came out strong, getting two first period goals by junior Patrick Galivan. However, the Mavericks took control in the second period. Senior Mick Lawrence connected on two power-play goals for the Mavericks to tie the score. The two goals by UNO, as well as the Broncos’ five penalties, allowed the Mavericks to take the momentum into the third period.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” said Broncos’ coach Jim Culhane. “It is not the outcome that anyone associated with our program wanted. Give full credit to UNO; they played a very good game last night, executed very well on the power play. They scored five power play goals this weekend.
“I thought today, we played extremely hard with a couple nice goals by Galivan and some nice passes by [Max] Campbell and [Jeff] LoVecchio, but they were able to get the momentum back on the power play,” he said. “We had some chances and didn’t capitalize, they had some chances and they did.”
The Broncos certainly came out strongly after their disappointing loss on Saturday night. They killed off a quick Mavericks’ power play chance just two minutes into the game, and broke the scoreless tie at the 8:14 mark when Galivan took a pass from deep in the right corner from Campbell, faked Mavericks’ goalie Jerad Kaufmann and scored.
Galivan scored again just 35 seconds later. The play began when junior defenseman Chris Frank chipped the puck ahead to LoVecchio inside the neutral zone. LoVecchio took carried the puck into the offensive zone and passed it to Galivan, who slipped it between Kaufmann and the left post.
“That is a good hockey team inside that other locker room, it’s just that the bounces are not going their way right now,” Mavericks’ coach Mike Kemp said. “A lot of times it is things as a coach that you can’t give the team; they have to figure it out themselves. Another thing that you have to do is you can’t give anyone confidence; that is something that they have to acquire from having some good bounces.
“The one thing that you can’t do is get down on each other, because let’s face it, your players and your staff is all you have; it’s us against the world,” Kemp said. “Just stay together and continue working hard.”
In the second period, the Broncos took a series of penalties, and Mavericks capitalized.
“One of the keys we talked about heading into the weekend for us was to shut down their power play chances, and to do that we had to stay out of the box and we were incapable of doing that on both nights,” Culhane said. “Subsequently, that gives them the momentum in the game, and arguably you can say it cost us the weekend series.”
Starting the second, both teams were operating four-on-four. LoVecchio was then whistled for a hooking call, which eventually set up Lawrence’s first of two power play goals of the night. Lawrence took a pass as he skated around the circle from senior captain Bryan Marshall and fired a wrister past freshman netminder Jerry Kuhn.
“They got those two quick goals in the first, and I thought that may have put us back on our heels a bit for the rest of the period,” Kemp said. “Being down 2-0 is not a strange position for us this year. We have not been a fast starting team all season, so our guys did not over react to the situation.
“It was not a point of alarm, and I thought they handled their composure pretty well and they just got after it again,” he said.
After another Broncos’ penalty at the 9:10 point in the period, Lawrence scored from inside the slot, knocking the shot off the post and past Kuhn.
“The consistency that we showed on the power play and throughout the weekend is what we look for from our team,” said Kemp. “We haven’t seen it every game, but our expectation is we play this way every shift every game. I have been pleased this weekend with the way we have reacted in every situation. We were down, we came back and of course when we got the lead, we didn’t give WMU many opportunities.”
Both teams got eight shots on goal in the final period, but it was the Mavericks who converted. About halfway through the third period, senior Brandon Scero broke free in the neutral zone, taking a pass from Marshall, and skated in all alone against Kuhn, beating him five-hole for the game-winning goal.
“Again, you need senior leadership to be successful,” Kemp said. “All three goals tonight were scored by seniors; we put our future on the backs of the seniors, saying this is your year, your last kick at the can and make the most of it.”