In my dismay over the Huskers loss to Texas Tech yesterday, I missed much of last night's UNO hockey game with Colgate. UNO came on strong in the third period, scoring four times in the final twenty minutes to win 4-1 last night. That continues an impressive trend early in the season of dominant third period hockey; no goals allowed in the final period through the first four games.
John Faulkner is establishing himself as the starting goaltender, giving up two goals for the entire weekend. I'm impressed by this hot start because I made the assumption that the transition would take much of the first month or two. I fully expected some hiccups and some mistakes early on as UNO transitioned into the "run-and-gun racehorse" style favored by Dean Blais. Instead, UNO finds themselves 3-0-1 and ranked nationally.
It's easy to see Colgate and think toothpaste, but it's an important victory over an east coast hockey team that helps set the Mavs resume for later in the season. UNO hired Dean Blais because the Mavs want to play into March...and winning these non-conference matchups help the RPI which helps set the PairWise. UNO's 2006 run to the NCAA tournament was based on a strong non-conference schedule; unlike college football, strength of schedule matters in hockey.
A bye week comes in handier than normal for UNO; it gives them more time to work on cementing down the new system and prepares the team for conference play. I expect this team to be much better after the new year than in October, so a good start in October really starts to raise some eyebrows.