UNO easily cruised this weekend to a pair of 6-1 victories over Bowling Green in the first round of the CCHA playoffs. The overmatched Falcons did score the opening goal of the series with a fluky goal that ricocheted off the post then off goalie Jeremie Dupont's back before crossing the goal line. From there, UNO scored almost at will both evenings. Bowling Green desperately rotated through all of their goalies during the weekend, trying to find someone to slow down the Mavs...but it didn't matter who was in goal with the lack of support from the rest of the Falcons. The Mavericks were simply faster, stronger, and more skilled than Bowling Green. Case in point: on Friday night, Alex Hudson got called for a tripping penalty that reminded me of a few of Ndamukong Suh's penalties this season. He was just so much bigger and stronger than the other guy that it just looked like a penalty.
The highlight of the weekend was Dan Swanson swatting a Bowling Green attempt to clear the puck out of midair, gaining control of the puck, then burying the puck in the back of the net faster than you could chant "Where's My Sharpie?" (That and my inability to track the score Saturday night as we chanted after every goal...)
Next up for the Mavs will be #13 Ferris State in a best of three series in Big Rapids, Michigan. Ferris swept the Mavs back during the December slump; I get the feeling the Mavs are playing a wee bit better now. Win two games this weekend, and UNO not only earns a trip to the CCHA semifinals at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit...but also moves closer and closer to an NCAA berth. UNO is currently on the wrong side of the bubble, currently sitting in a four-way tie for 16th place in the PairWise. 16 teams make the NCAA tournament, and with the Atlantic Hockey Association an autobid, the best case scenario is the top 15 teams in the PairWise will get an invite. If UNO makes it to "the Joe", the Mavs should be very close to that Top 15. They'd probably pass Ferris, and if Alaska defeats Northern Michigan, that might open up another spot. Add in more upsets elsewhere in college hockey, and you just never know.