After last week's sweep by Bemidji State, the UNO Mavericks fell to #10 in the USCHO rankings (#9 in the USA Today poll), and while the Mavs played better against last place Michigan Tech, they also made Tech look better than they have in recent weeks.
Thursday night's game started slow with a scoreless opening period, but the Mavs broke the game open with gaols midway through the second period to open a two score lead. UNO controlled the puck most of the night, but something just seemed to be off much of the night. Despite outshooting Tech 53-19, it took an empty net goal in the final minute to seal the victory in the series opener.
Friday night wasn't any better, with another sloppy first period until Brock Montpetit fed Ryan Walters on a rush for UNO's first goal of the game. If you saw highlights on KETV this weekend, you saw a second period goal that didn't count as instant replay showed the puck was kicked in by Joey Martin. Two minutes later, the Huskies tied the game with an easy rebound goal. Two third period goals gave UNO the victory in a game that was a lot tougher to win than one would have thought. To their credit, the Huskies played one of their better games of the season, leading Tech coach Jamie Russell to claim that they deserved two points for their effort. (Participation ribbon perhaps?) I understand the desire to be rewarded for playing one fo their better games of the season...but UNO was clearly the better team, even if the Mavs didn't play that well all weekend.
This weekend will be much tougher, with a trip to fifth place Colorado College in the final games before the Christmas break. Last year, the Mavs struggled even worse in December, but rebounded solidly after New Years', putting together a nice run in the second half. This year, they don't so much need to turn it aroudn as much as regain some of the momentum of October and November.