OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska-Omaha cast visiting Lethbridge aside on Monday, handing the Canadian school a 4-1 defeat in an exhibition game at CenturyLink Center.
Three UNO goals in the first period effectively put the game to bed early. Lethbridge’s only goal of the night, coming from forward Daniel Iwanski 1:10 into the third period, came on a five-on-three power play for the Pronghorns.
UNO certainly started hot with sophomore forward Dominic Zombo opening the scoring early by beating Lethbridge goalie Dylan Tait after a mere 59 seconds.
The Mavericks then doubled their lead at 12:31 of the opening period. Junior forward Ryan Walters knocked home from close range the rebound of a shot by linemate Matt White.
UNO struck again at 16:13 of the first frame, with junior forward Zahn Raubenheimer wristing a shot from the slot in off the right post. Zombo picked up an assist on the play, returning the favor for when Raubenheimer set Zombo up to score UNO’s first goal of the night.
The hosts went back to their dressing room with a hefty 22-2 shot advantage after 20 minutes. UNO’s offensive production then experienced a slight drop-off over the final two periods, but the Pronghorns rarely threatened, eventually losing the shots battle 49-11.
The Mavericks slotted home a fourth goal 7:55 into the second period, with sophomore forward Josh Archibald ramming a shot past Tait.
Archibald’s tally came on the power play. That was a welcome sign for a UNO team that finished dead last in the WCHA playing with the man advantage last season, converting on only 25 of its 146 opportunities.
UNO coach Dean Blais wasn’t entirely happy with his team’s performance on Monday, though. Blais, who opted to observe Monday’s preseason tilt from the press box, felt that although the Mavericks won, they need to add some oomph to their game.
“I probably thought that our players getting three goals right away was almost too easy,” Blais said. “Not that the game’s over after that — I just thought we didn’t have the passion we need, or that we’re going to need, for sure.
“I didn’t think we generated a whole lot of offense with each other. We had some good plays individually, but not team plays. Not rushes down the ice with defensemen joining in. I thought we cycled the puck well at times and got some offense off it, but not enough.”
The loss brought an end to the Pronghorns’ three-game stateside tour against American schools. Playing three games in as many nights, Lethbridge dropped a 7-0 decision at Minnesota on Saturday before falling 7-1 at Minnesota State the following night.
The Pronghorns were outshot a combined 179-37 over those three games.
UNO opens regular season play on Friday in Kansas City, Mo., where the Mavericks will face Army in the opening game for both teams in the Icebreaker tournament. UNO will then face either Maine or Notre Dame the following day.