MARQUETTE, Mich. — The last time the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks and Northern Michigan Wildcats faced off in Omaha, the Mavericks left the series with four points. This time around, the Wildcats, who are 7-4-2 against the Mavericks in Marquette, showed that home ice truly is an advantage.
The Wildcats took an early two goal lead in the first period. Their first goal, from freshman Jared Brown, Erik Gustafsson and senior Matt Siddall came at 12:48. The second, an unassisted goal from Siddall, came moments later at 13:57.
I didnt think we came out in the first period, Mavericks coach Mike Kemp said. We played tentatively at the start instead of playing the way we normally do.
At 11:48 of the second period, Mark Olver scored his 13th goal of the year with a perfect wrist shot that went over Maverick goalie Jerad Kaufmanns right shoulder. Phil Fox and Alan Dorich had the assists.
Mark can fly, Siddall said. When he gets his wheels going hes fun to watch and we want to give a player with that kind of speed and skill the puck and see what he can do.
Once again, about a minute later at 13:26, the Wildcats score again. This time, the goal came from Eric Spady who lightly tucked it past Kaufmanns right skate.
At 15:21 the Mavericks scored a shorthanded goal from JJ Koehler who took a pass from Dan Swanson behind the net and then shot the puck above Wildcat goalie Brian Stewarts right shoulder as he skated across the net.
With goalie Jeremie Dupont in for Kaufmann in the third, the Mavericks changed up their game. At 1:15 the scored their second goal of the night on a power play. The goal, from Brandon Scero, Eddie Del Grosso and Mick Lawrence, was popped up left of Stewarts glove.
The Wildcats didnt lose momentum despite the Mavericks two goals. Olver skated across the net and wristed the puck into the top left corner of the net with passes from Gustafsson and Siddall at 11:59.
Siddall had a very good game, Gustafsson said. Its fun for him because hes a senior and its nice that he gets to have such good games.
Twenty seconds later, Wildcats Ray Kaunisto shot the puck into the same spot. Siddall and Gustafsson had the assists giving each three points on the night.
Matt was really strong tonight, Wildcat coach Walt Kyle said. He did a lot of things early on that catapulted us to win the game. Hes been a very good leader for us and a very good player for four years. I think hes been having his best year not only stat-wise, but play wise.
Erik played a great game, Siddall said. Hes being a strong leader. Hes very consistent which is tough to find in a D-man, especially coming over from Sweden.
The points I scored are just a bonus, Gustafsson said. Its more important that the team wins. Its tremendous that we had so many players and so many lines score tonight and thats very important for our teams future.
The Mavericks retaliated at 13:47 with another power play goal from Lawrence who put it behind Stewart from the left side. They took fourth of the night at 15:43 with a shot from Alain Goulet.
Though the Wildcats won the game with a final score of 6-4, the Mavericks won the third period, wracking in three power play goals.
We never even got a goal 5-on-5, Kemp said. Fortunately our power play kept us in like it has most of the season. We gave up too many rush goals and too many rush opportunities and thats just something that cant happen, sloppy play.
It was a little straggly there at the end but thats a really good team over there, Siddall said. They have a high octane offense and if you give them chances and make mistakes theyre going to capitalize on them. With their power play the way it is and the way some of those guys can shoot the puck you cant take a second off or take a player off, its got to be 100% on the ball the whole 20 minutes.
They have a great power play team, Kyle said. Theyre dangerous. The score is not indicative of the game. It should have been much closer and much tighter. I dont ever like to lose a third period but we took a lot of bad penalties and didnt execute our kill. They made some great plays.
The Wildcats will go for a sweep tomorrow night as they face off the Mavericks at 7:35 at the Berry Events Center.