OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska-Omaha snapped a three-game losing streak Friday in beating WCHA rival Alaska-Anchorage, 4-1, at CenturyLink Center.
UNO looked far from being in midseason form in their first conference game of the season, with UAA limiting the Mavericks to relatively few shots and quality scoring chances. A fast start, however, and two goals 43 seconds apart in the third period saw the host side through.
UNO got the start it wanted Friday, scoring just 2:05 into the game. Andrej Sustr did the honors, taking a centering pass from behind the net and beating UAA goaltender Rob Gunderson low from inside the slot.
Sustr’s first goal of the season and third of his collegiate career was the perfect tonic for UNO head coach Dean Blais’s club. Early goals are always good, Blais told reporters, but they’re even better when a team is trying to end a losing streak.
“Getting that first goal was nice,” Blais said after the game. “It was a small goal, but an important one to help get our confidence back after three straight losses.
“Sometimes if you’re not struggling, or if you’re scoring a lot of goals, getting that first goal is no big deal. As long as you’re getting your opportunities, though, sooner or later, they’re going to go in.”
UAA’s play at both ends of the ice began to strengthen after the Seawolves conceded the early goal, with the visitors overcoming what had been a shaky start for them all around. The heightened performance doubled with a 0-for-6 outing from UNO’s power play in keeping the Mavericks from adding to their lead through to the end of Friday’s middle frame.
In the third period, though, UNO finally broke the game open. Nebraska-Omaha captain Terry Broadhurst doubled the hosts’ lead 9:54 into the period, putting a wrist shot past Gunderson stick-side from the left circle.
The Mavericks added to their lead again 43 seconds later with forward Zahn Raubenheimer beating the UAA keeper with a slap shot glove-side from the opposite circle in the Seawolves’ zone.
UNO then got a fourth goal with 4:22 left to play. UAA head coach Dave Shyiak pulled Gunderson early to try and bolster the attack, but Matt White foiled that plan with an empty-net goal.
Mickey Spencer then broke up UNO goaltender John Faulkner’s shutout bid with 2:22 left to play.
The Seawolves beat this same UNO team 3-0 on Oct. 14 at the Alaska Goal Rush tournament. Shyiak said, however, that while he thought his team improved as Friday’s game went on, UNO’s pressure and a few mistakes by his players did the visitors in.
“I thought Omaha came out with a lot of jump and a lot of energy and they put pressure on our net right away,” Shyiak said. “Obviously, they had things going their way early, but as the game went on, we kept it tight and there wasn’t a whole lot in the way of quality scoring chances either way.
“Give credit to Omaha, though. They pressured us, we didn’t manage the puck properly, and there were two or three mistakes that (UNO) really capitalized on and those mistakes ended with the puck in the back of our net.”
UNO (2-3-0, 1-0-0 WCHA) and UAA (3-1-1, 0-1-0) will meet again on Saturday in Omaha to close out their weekend series.