Nebraska-Omaha can win with defense
Nebraska-Omaha entered the weekend 3-1, and in part had won by putting up a lot of points on the board. The Mavericks had scored five goals in two of their first four games, three in another, and had been held to two goals in their only loss.
It was fair to wonder then, if this year’s edition would be like last year’s: winning if they could score in bunches and losing when kept down on the scoreboard.
This weekend against Cornell, the Mavericks got three of four points despite only scoring three goals. On Friday night, goaltender Ryan Massa made 28 saves as the Mavericks got a 1-1 tie with Cornell. The offense peppered Cornell goaltender Mitch Gillam with 39 shots, and Tyler Vessel got the only Mavericks goal.
On Saturday, UNO earned a 2-1 win as Massa stopped 32 shots. The Mavericks top line came through, as Austin Orgeta got the game-winner and assisted on the first goal, and Dominic Zombo assisted on the first goal. Ortega is now tied for sixth nationally in scoring, as is his linemate, Jake Guentzel.
The Mavericks’ road journey continues next week when they travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State. It will be their third consecutive road series, a stretch that sees them on the road for five of six weekends.
UNO has a good shot to be ranked when the polls come out Monday, which would put six of the eight NCHC teams in the top 20.
St. Cloud continues success against top
St. Cloud State entered the weekend ranked seventh, despite having only a 2-2 record. Voters probably recognize that the Huskies have played a brutal schedule, opening with No. 4 Colgate and No. 2 Union.
This weekend, the Huskies had a home-and-home with top-ranked Minnesota, and again split, winning 4-1 at home Friday and suffering a 4-3 overtime loss Saturday when Justin Kloos scored for the Gophers 1:19 into the extra session.
Charlie Lindgren was sensational in the loss, making 31 saves. St. Cloud’s offense was more limited, only getting 14 shots on net. Lindgren was also strong in the win on Friday, making 31 saves.
Leading scorer Jonny Brodzinski continues to be the sparkplug for the Huskies. He notched three points in Friday’s win. In the loss Saturday, the Gophers keyed on him and kept him off the score sheet.
It was only the Huskies’ fourth win in the last 11 against their in-state rival, and ended a two-game losing skid against the Gophers, including in the NCAA tournament last season.
Quick strikes help Denver gets measure of revenge
St. Cloud wasn’t the only team looking for a little revenge for an NCAA tournament loss. No. 11 Denver welcomed No. 5 Boston College to Magness Arena this weekend; the Eagles had defeated the Pioneers last year in the first round, 6-2.
On Friday, a tight defensive battle went to the Eagles, 2-1. Ryan Fitzgerald got the game-winner for the visitors at 15:18 of the third. The Pioneers had 26 shots on Eagles netminder Thatcher Demko, and were hurt in part by going 0-6 on the power play. Denver was also unable to build momentum on Nolan Zajac’s goal at 28 seconds of the second.
Denver got the early lead again Saturday, as highly touted freshman Danton Heinen struck at 21 seconds of the second. The Eagles answered at 12:56, and that was all the scoring in regulation, as Evan Cowley made 24 saves for Denver and Demko matched him with 30 saves.
However, at 4:05 of OT, Heinen got the Pioneers the important split when he scored with a quick snap shot from Demko’s right.
The win was all the more impressive as Denver had three key players out of the line-up. Joey LaLeggia, Zac Laraza, and Quentin Shore were out with a stomach bug.
Denver’s power-play struggles continued, as the Pioneers again went 0-6 on the power play.
Entering the season, Minnesota-Duluth was looking to replace starting goaltender Aaron Crandall, who graduated. So far, freshman Kasimir Kaskisuo seems to be the go-to for the Bulldogs, in part due to saves like this.