Omaha happy to be home
Entering the weekend, Omaha was a game under .500 at 4-5-1, and had played eight of first 10 games on the road. Being home seems to agree with the Mavericks, who swept Northern Michigan 4-3 and 4-1 to remain undefeated at home at 3-0-1. Evan Weninger started both games in net, making 27 saves Friday and 25 Saturday, including robbing a late attempt by the Wildcats to tie the game Friday on a point-blank opportunity. Zach Jordan and Luke Nogard scored in each game, and Tristan Keck had a hand in the first Omaha goal in each, scoring first Friday and assisting on the first goal Saturday.
One impressive thing Friday was how Omaha rallied. After Keck scored, Northern Michigan scored at 8:53 of the first, and a Joseph Nardi goal 1:17 into the second gave the Wildcats the lead, but Omaha rallied with three straight goals in the second, the last coming from Nogard at 18:47 and proving to be the game-winner.
Omaha’s penalty kills was effective, killing all 13 Northern Michigan power plays on the weekend.
If home is where the Mavericks like to be, they have an opportunity to build momentum, as every game in December is at home, including a series with suddenly hot Union after the Christmas break.
Miami wins battle of Ohio
Facing off against Bowling Green in a home-and-home, Miami emerged with a win and tie to win their only series against an Ohio team this season. Friday, Grant Hutton’s two goals 37 seconds apart at the end of the second proved the difference, as they came shortly after Bowling Green had rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie it 3-3. Hutton also assisted on Josh Melnick’s goal at 2:59 of the second. Kiefer Sherwood had a goal and two assists, while Louie Belpedio, Grant Frederic, and Conor Lemirande each had two assists. Ryan Larkin made 11 saves in the win, as the Miami defense proved adept at keeping Bowling Green from generating much offense.
Saturday, it looked like Miami was headed for the win, but an extra-attacker goal by Alec Rauhauser with 38 seconds left in the game gained Bowling Green a tie. Belpedio had an assist on Melnick’s goal at 6:32 of the second, and scored on a power play at 13:09 to give Miami a lead that it almost took for the win. Larkin was tested more, making 24 saves in the tie. Miami dominated the OT, making four shots, but was unable to score. The RedHawks are now at .500 on the year, which coupled with Omaha’s sweep means that every NCHC team is at least .500 or better on the season.
Power outage for North Dakota
North Dakota struggled on the weekend, only managing to get a tie in its series with Union. Friday, Union got two goals in the first period, with Sebastian Vidmar’s power-play tally at 14:16 standing up as the game-winner. It came off a rebound after Peter Thome made a turnover up the boards after coming out of his net to try to play the puck. North Dakota got one back in the third from Christian Wolanin, but a breakaway goal by Vas Kalias just 52 seconds later killed any momentum the Fighting Hawks might have generated.
A poor few minutes early in the third forced North Dakota to have to rally and earn a tie Saturday. A goal by Colton Poolman at 14:01 of the first held up through two periods, but Union struck for two goals 22 seconds apart in the third period to take a lead. Brett Supinski tied it with a backhand goal that was started by a turnover by North Dakota’s Casey Johnson near the Union blue line that sent Vidmar racing up ice. He passed it Supinski as Johnson raced back, and Supinski cut back in the slot and beat Thome with a backhand. On the ensuing faceoff, a turnover on an errant pass by Ludvig Hoff in the neutral zone was intercepted by Cole Maier, who skated in and fired two shots that were blocked before Ryan Scarfo picked it up in just outside the crease and backhanded it past Thome. Cole Smith got called for interference at 14:20 of the third, but Union was unable to capitalize, and Shane Gersich tied it when he picked up a rebound after a three-on-two that had Rhett Gardner firing a shot from the left circle. The goal was even-strength, as the penalty had just ended as Gersich got the puck in.
North Dakota dominated in the extra session, registering four shots to none by Union, but the Fighting Hawks were unable to get the game-winner.