OMAHA, Neb. — After last Saturday’s 6-1 exhibition win over British Columbia, Nebraska-Omaha head coach Dean Blais said that his Maverick hockey team this season would be one that bid its time early in games before using its conditioning to wear opponents down later on.
That didn’t really happen on Friday.
Instead, in UNO’s Mutual of Omaha Stampede opener against Clarkson, Blais’ charges adopted a more urgent approach, scoring early and often in an 8-0 win over the Golden Knights at Qwest Center Omaha.
Forwards Matt Ambroz and Matt White both scored two goals in the Mavericks’ pasting of Clarkson, and four other UNO players — all of those four being underclassmen — also scored to give a young UNO side with 11 newcomers a dream start to the new season.
Another Maverick underclassman, sophomore goaltender John Faulkner, turned in the first shutout of his collegiate career, putting aside each of Clarkson’s 26 shots on the night.
Faulkner rarely needed to worry about picking up his first win of the season on Friday, though, as UNO took hold of the game very early and seldom looked back. Freshman Zahn
Raubenheimer opened the scoring early, getting his first goal as a Maverick 66 seconds into the game after deflecting in front of CU goaltender Paul Karpowich a long shot from the left point by defenseman Michael Young.
Young committed a major checking-from-behind penalty 25 seconds later, putting him in the penalty box for five minutes on top of earning a 10-minute misconduct call. UNO killed the penalty, and then was rewarded with Ambroz’s first goal of the season, a power-play marker at 12:24 of the first period.
UNO threw 25 shots on target in Friday’s opening frame, but it wasn’t until the second period where the Mavericks’ offensive firepower really made itself apparent. Three middle-frame goals from sophomores Terry Broadhurst and Brent Gwidt and freshman Johnnie Searfoss made the score 5-0 after 40 minutes of play.
The Mavericks heaped more misery on Clarkson in the third period, with the highly-touted freshman White sandwiching his two goals around Ambroz’s second of the night in the final frame.
“We put in a lot of work all offseason long for tonight and for this season,” Ambroz said after the game. “We came out with energy tonight, and that showed on the scoreboard.”
Blais seemed particularly impressed with the offensive output of his freshmen on Friday, though, and he praised his newcomers’ ability to convert their excitement at the start of the season into positive performances on the ice.
“We had so much energy today and our freshmen add so much enthusiasm,” he said. “They just go hard all the time. They almost go too hard and over pursue at times on the forecheck, but we don’t want to have them just standing around and thinking too much.”
On the other side of the dressing room divide, Clarkson head coach George Roll said he felt his team were underprepared for Friday’s game, and that that only hurt the Golden Knights once they hit the ice for their season opener.
“Obviously, we weren’t ready to play tonight,” he said. “(UNO) came out with a lot of jump and never let their foot off the accelerator, and we did a lot of standing around. They won a lot of battles, and we just didn’t compete at a high enough level.
“Hard work goes a long way, and UNO competed hard and they won every battle. They were high-tempo, they were on every loose puck, and we didn’t do the little things right and they did. They were clearly the best team by a mile tonight.”
Clarkson (0-1-0) next plays No. 4 St. Cloud State on Saturday afternoon in Omaha. UNO (1-0-0) will play in the Stampede finale later that night against No. 18 RIT.