OMAHA, Neb. — American college hockey teams use preseason exhibition matches to work out the kinks in their game on the ice. Nebraska-Omaha proved no exception to that on Saturday.
Ranked No. 14 in USCHO’s first Division I poll of the season, the Mavericks struggled early against British Columbia, committing several mistakes that could have ended up being more damaging than they were. Two goals from UNO forward Brock Montpetit, however, led the way to a 4-1 win over the Thunderbirds at CenturyLink Center.
UNO outshot its opponent heavily in Saturday’s first period, 16-6. The Mavericks struggled to make their early opportunities count though, while UBC capitalized on one of its few.
UNO first solved Thunderbirds goaltender Jordan White late in the first frame, with UNO sophomore forward Matt White finding twine at 18:46. Just 58 seconds later however, UBC produced a shock equalizer, with forward Marc Deloges burying a pretty shot from high in the UNO slot past Mavericks goalie John Faulkner.
The Thunderbirds’ momentum shift then turned back against them early in the second period. UNO freshman forward Josh Archibald restored the hosts’ lead just 1:24 into the frame, putting the Mavericks ahead for good. The goal came on something of a highlight-reel play. UNO forward Ryan Walters used a nice pass from behind the goal line to reach the wide-open Archibald in front.
The Mavericks weren’t done there. The hosts doubled their lead at 10:28 of the same period, with forward Terry Broadhurst feeding a centering pass to linemate Montpetit, with the latter all alone in front and the UBC netminder out of position to stop the shooter.
Montpetit then put to rest any doubts over the game’s outcome 7:31 into the third period with his second goal of the night. Broadhurst and defenseman Andrej Sustr were credited with assists on the play.
In truth, UNO had controlled the game since Archibald’s go-ahead goal. The Mavericks’ third and fourth goals had been coming for a while too, and that was no less than the hosts deserved on the night.
The Broadhurst-Montpetit-White line shined the brightest for UNO on Saturday. It was responsible for three of the Mavericks’ four goals, and UNO coach Dean Blais had plenty of praise for it after the game.
“You have three really talented hockey players: You have speed in Broadhurst, you have Montpetit, who is obviously very talented, and White is a finisher,” Blais said. “That line could’ve had six goals.”
Despite the scoreline, Blais spotted several aspects of his team’s performance that need fine-tuning. That said, he expects the adjustments to come as the Mavericks get more games under their belts.
“They’re trying to gain the speed that we need, but they’re not there yet,” Blais said. “They’re not used to playing as fast as we want them to play, they’re not moving the puck as well as they should, and they’re not proficient in shooting.
“But all of that will come. It takes practice, just like anything else.”
UNO opens its regular-season slate on Oct. 7 against Mercyhurst in the Mutual of Omaha Maverick Stampede.