Sunday, January 16, 2011

UNO Hockey's Midseason Swoon

Two months ago, the Mavs were flying high in college hockey circles after splitting a memorable series with North Dakota that had the Mavs flying high nationally. At that time, I said that I didn't think a swoon was imminent...and boy was I wrong.  Since that weekend, UNO is just 3-6-1...and reeling after this weekend's series against Bemidji State.  It seems a familiar story: UNO seems to be flying around against a lesser opponent but can't get the puck past the goalie, and they lose.  In fact, it's what I wrote in mid-January of last season. They went on a hot streak and worked their way into national contention with a 7-2-1 run over the next five weeks, complete with a road win over then-#1 Miami a week after sweeping Michigan.

The Mavs hockey team isn't playing the greatest right now, but I get the feeling they're playing better than they were a year ago at this time. They're down one of their better players with Terry Broadhurst still nursing a hand injury. They're facing #2 North Dakota, this time up there in Dean Blais' return to his old stomping grounds. I wouldn't say these are must-win games, but if UNO is going to make another run like last season, they can't wait much longer.

Looking at the Mavs this weekend, I saw a team that flew around the ice, but faced an opponent style that's the exact opposite and creates immense frustration. Best analogy I can think of is Princeton basketball under Pete Carril. UNO came out flying on Saturday night, but UNO's first goal of the game was waived off for some reason.  Breakdowns late in the second period allowed Bemidji State to take the lead, and while UNO was able to make the push to tie the game in the third period, they couldn't get the game winner despite several outstanding opportunities.... then another defensive breakdown led to the game winner in overtime.

Frustrated? Yep.  Disappointed?  Yep.  But not giving up hope.  Not yet.  There's still two months of hockey left to be played, and a lot of things still can happen.

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