OMAHA, Neb. — Colorado College forward and Omaha native Nick Dineen completed his domination of his hometown team on Saturday, where the Tigers defeated Nebraska-Omaha, 5-2, at CenturyLink Center.
Dineen picked up a goal and three assists for the second-ranked Tigers (5-1-0, 3-1-0 WCHA). His tally on Saturday was his third of the weekend and it helped CC to salvage a split of its weekend series with UNO (5-5-0, 4-2-0).
“It was hard to keep my emotions in check because I had so many family members and friends here,” Dineen said about his homecoming after Saturday’s game. “I knew that kids I’d played with in the past were coming to these games, but I just tried to treat It as best I could like any other game.
“But you always have those people in your ears saying how exciting they were about the games, so it was tough, but it was a lot of fun and a great experience.”
Colorado College opened the scoring in the second period, capitalizing on two UNO penalties to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
Both goals came almost immediately after Maverick players were sent to the box. Nine seconds after Brock Montpetit was whistled down for a slash, Gabe Guentzel put CC in front. A faceoff win in the UNO zone came to the defender and he ripped a hard, low shot past UNO goaltender Ryan Massa.
The CC lead was soon doubled, again through a power-play goal. This time, Dineen redirected a Guentzel shot from the top of the slot past Massa. Dineen’s third goal of the weekend, with the Tiger forward scoring two on Friday in a 7-5 loss to UNO, left the hosts in a considerable hole halfway through Saturday’s game.
UNO then pulled a goal back, however, at 16:54 of Saturday’s middle frame. Andrej Sustr was the scorer, netting his third of the season by sending a long shot from the point through traffic and in between CC goaltender Josh Thorimbert’s legs.
Halfway through the third period, UNO drew level on a mistake from Thorimbert, one that could have cost CC much dearer than it did in the end.
CC was on a power play after Matt Smith went off for a tripping call, but after UNO dumped the puck into the CC zone, Thorimbert misplayed it behind his goal, and Ryan Walters picked up the loose puck and slotted it home into an empty net.
The game wasn’t tied for long, though. The visitors scored their third power-play goal of the night with 6:27 left to go in regulation, with Jaden Schwartz knocking a rebound in past Massa from between the faceoff circles.
CC’s game-winning goal was harsh on the Mavericks, who had climbed out of their 2-0 ditch and looked a different team in the second and third periods than it had in the first. The hosts couldn’t get another goal, though, and Rylan Schwartz and Dakota Eveland both scored empty-net goals to seal the game.
CC head coach Scott Owens was particularly pleased with his team’s ability to weather the UNO storm, strong as it was apart from the Mavericks going 0-for-7 on the power play on Saturday, before CC got its lead back and kept it until the final horn.
“I thought we bounced back from our first bit of adversity this year with a pretty solid effort,” Owens said. “Our locker room was good and I thought we were back to playing a good road game.
“We checked more tightly in our own end and we got ourselves into some penalty trouble, but our penalty killing came up big for us.”
Owens also heaped praise on Dineen, who was by far the standout player of the series.
“It’s nothing against UNO, but he’s an Omaha kid and he’s a senior, so he’s waited his whole life to be able to come back here and play in this kind of environment, and it happened, and he was very successful,” Owens said. “Last night, he played well and tonight he played well. He got a couple of penalties tonight, but he’s a warrior. He’s good on faceoffs, he’s good defensively, and he’s good on the power play. It’s great for him, because he’s an unbelievable kid.”
UNO head coach Dean Blais also had good things to say about the CC captain’s return to his old stomping grounds.
“He had to be thrilled and fired up to come back to Omaha,” Blais said. “I wasn’t around to see him play in his junior and high school hockey and everything he did before he went to Colorado College, but he’s a good hockey player.
“He’s a leader, he’s one of their captains, and obviously, he had a good weekend here.”
CC is on the road again on Nov. 12 for a game against arch-rival Denver. UNO is also on the road next weekend for a pair at Bemidji State.