HOUGHTON, Mich. — No Matt White, no problem for Nebraska-Omaha Friday night.
Without their star winger, the Mavericks got two goals from junior winger Zahn Raubenheimer, including one in the final 70 seconds of regulation, to defeat the reeling Michigan Tech Huskies 2-1 at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
“It was a tough game,” said Mavericks’ coach Dean Blais. “I thought both teams played hard and did what they to do to keep it close in the third period. We definitely missed Matt White.”
With the Huskies on the power play late in the third period, Raubenheimer carried the puck deep into Huskies’ territory. With a pair of nifty moves, he cut around the Huskies’ defenders and in on goaltender Kevin Genoe, who was making his first start in three weeks. His shot found a hole in the senior’s equipment before finding the back of the net.
“Losing a guy like Matt is a huge opportunity and a time for us to show who we are as a team,” said Raubenheimer. “To be able to get out of a slump and get going a little bit was huge.”
The Mavericks had the first good scoring chance when Huskies’ defenseman Jimmy Davis turned the puck over near his own goal. Genoe was ready for the mistake and made the stop.
Mavericks’ center Brock Montpetit had a chance to set up a great scoring chance on a two-on-one two minutes later, but MTU defenseman Justin Fillion turned his body at just the right time to keep Montpetit’s pass from reaching its intended target.
The Huskies’ first quality scoring chance came off the stick of center Jujhar Khaira, who took a pass from winger David Johnstone and fired a puck at UNO goalie John Faulkner. The senior kicked the puck back out in front of his own goal, but no Huskies were in the vicinity.
After losing a pair of games at then-No. 5 Denver, Michigan Tech looked tentative at home despite the couple of good scoring chances through the first 20 minutes. Faulkner was only called upon to make two of his 22 saves in the period, while Genoe stopped seven Mavericks’ shots. He finished with 26 for the game.
“I just tried to do what I do and tried to be a backbone for the team,” said Genoe. “On the power play there, that was a big save I needed to make and I didn’t make it there. It’s a tough way to lose.”
The Huskies (2-5-0 overall, 1-4-0 WCHA) started the second period much better than the first, drawing their first power play of the game 14 seconds in. Center Tanner Kero and winger Milos Gordic each had scoring chances on the advantage, but Faulkner was there to make the save each time.
Khaira nearly broke the game open four minutes into the period after losing the faceoff in the offensive zone. After the draw, Khaira outmuscled the Nebraska-Omaha defender, grabbed the loose puck and attempted to stuff it home.
The Mavericks (3-3-0 overall, 1-1-1 WCHA) did break the scoreless tie when Raubenheimer outdueled Fillion for a clearing pass from winger Johnnie Searfoss. In the confusion, Raubenheimer managed to pull the puck from his backhand to his forehand and push the puck through Genoe at 5:38.
“Their guy made two real good individual plays to beat us,” said Huskies’ coach Mel Pearson. “It’s tough. They’re all tough, you know, when you are not having some success.”
Shortly after the goal, Mavericks’ winger Josh Archibald had an opportunity to extend the lead while skating down the left side of the rink. Genoe moved into position in time to make a solid glove save on the play.
With Mavericks’ defensemen Andrej Sustr and Jaycob Megna both off the ice for separate penalties, the Huskies had 45 seconds of a two-man advantage. While they didn’t score on their three scoring chances, they did strike before the period ended.
Winger Alex Petan forced a Mavericks’ turnover at the offensive blue line. Once under control, he fed winger Blake Pietila, who fired a shot that Faulkner stopped and pushed back out in front of his own net. Kero was waiting for the rebound and he buried the puck over Faulkner’s shoulder at 15:30 for his second goal of the season.
“[Petan] made a good stop and saved the puck in,” said Kero. “He moved it over to Blake [and] the rebound was just sitting there for a tap in.”
With Sustr off the ice for interference in the third, Gordic got open in front of Faulkner. He took a pass from winger Malcolm Gould in the slot, but his shot was stopped. Faulkner again came up big in a four-on-four situation when Michigan Tech defenseman Steven Seigo redirected the puck towards him.
Off that key stop, the Mavericks flew down the ice. Archibald drove hard towards the Huskies’ goal, but Genoe was equal to the task before Archibald was sent flying into the post by a Huskies’ defender.
On another Huskies’ power play, Gordic had another golden opportunity when he found himself alone in front of Faulkner. Fillion fired the puck from the left point and Gordic redirected it, but Faulkner was there to make the stop.