OMAHA, Neb. — The old sports adage that a team would rather be lucky than good implies that the two terms should be mutually exclusive, but the Nebraska-Omaha hockey team was both of those things on Friday night.
The Mavericks have been playing their best hockey of the season in recent weeks — especially at home — and fortunately for them, their rich vein of form carried into Fridays 4-3 win over No. 19 Michigan at Qwest Center Omaha.
The win was UNOs first over the Wolverines in the teams last nine meetings, and it was also the Mavericks first home victory over Michigan away from UNOs old home, the Omaha Civic Auditorium.
Even rarer for the Mavericks on Friday was that they largely outplayed Michigan, a side that has been one of UNOs biggest bugaboos during its now-dwindling CCHA tenure.
An early 3-1 lead was slowly erased by the talented Wolverines, though, and UNO ended up needing to rely on two goals apiece from forwards Joey Martin and Terry Broadhurst in order to lock up their first win over the Wolverines since 2006.
Any time you beat Michigan, UNO head coach Dean Blais said after the game, I dont care when it is, with their 11 NHL draft choices, their talent, their speed, (and) Red Berenson coaching them, whenever you beat them, its a good win.
It doesnt matter where. If its Ann Arbor or here, its a good win.
During the opening throes of Fridays game, though, Michigan looked the likelier team to eventually come away with the league points. The Wolverines quality scoring chances early in the opening frame didnt bear fruit, but U-M was rewarded for its hard work at 7:21 of the period, with forward Chris Browns long shot from the top of the UNO slot deflecting off of Maverick captain Mark Berniers stick and beating goaltender John Faulkner between his legs.
UNO quickly took over thereafter, however, with the first of Joey Martins two goals on the night coming 1:25 after Browns opening salvo, and Martin again at 10:52 of the period during a 2-on-1 rush into the Wolverine zone.
Broadhurst made it 3-1 at the 16:57 mark of the frame, connecting on a cross-ice pass that forced
Michigan goaltender Bryan Hogan out of position before the freshman forward scored his tenth goal of the season. With that goal — his sixth in his teams last three games — Broadhurst became the first UNO rookie to score ten goals in his first season as a Maverick since Tomas Klempa did so during the 2005-06 campaign.
Its been a lot of fun, Broadhurst said. Weve been clicking on the power play, Im playing
with two great line-mates, and Im kind of just in the right spot at the right time. A lot of hard work is paying off.
A goal apiece from Louie Caporusso and Steve Kampfer later allowed U-M to climb out of its early hole on Friday and bring Fridays game to its final 4-3 score-line, but the 11:06 remaining after Kampfers third-period goal didnt see the hard-working Wolverines find an equalizer.
Michigan head coach Red Berenson thought Fridays result was fair, though, given the Wolverines early mistakes, especially in and near their own zone.
We gave (UNO) a life, Berenson said after the game. Our mistakes and our turnovers gave them a life, and all of a sudden, were on our heels. Its a game of momentum, and they took that momentum and we never really completely got it back.
We hadnt played them for a year, so I cant tell you anything about their team, (but) I know they played a hard game. They outworked us for parts of the game, and once they got a couple of goals and got that fever and got that momentum, it was hard (for us) to turn it around.
UNO (15-12-1 overall, 11-11-3-2 in the CCHA) and Michigan (17-14-1, 12-10-1-0) meet once again in Omaha on Saturday night, with the game being televised nationwide on the CBS College Sports.
It will also be the Mavericks final home CCHA regular-season home game, with the team moving to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association after the current campaign comes to a close.