Driving downtown tonight for the UNO-Denver series finale, I caught the Dean Blais pregame interview where he thought that UNO needed to survive the Pioneers first period surge. After last night's loss, he expected Denver to come out flying right from the start. Well, UNO withstood that initial surge, but it turns out that Denver had much more in the tank tonight. They dominated the second period, and had the edge in the third period.
I'm not sure how to explain this one, but I think UNO just simply ran out of gas tonight. It happens. The run over the last five weeks, starting with that series split in North Dakota, just isn't one of those strings that just keeps going. And after having to fly up to Alaska last weekend, they didn't have enough left in their tanks for a top ten team like the Pioneers. Sloppy, lazy passes were picked off, and as the game wore on, it was Denver, not UNO, that had the spring in their step. UNO prides themselves on being the fastest and best conditioned team out on the ice, but that wasn't the case tonight.
John Faulkner was pulled at the end of the first period for Fredrik Bergman; not sure that Faulkner wasn't playing poorly as much as the team needed a bit of a spark. A rumor floating around the arena was that Faulkner got dinged earlier in the week and wasn't feeling well. In any event, Bergman put on an impressive performance in relief, though he ends up taking the loss on the stat sheet.
Unfortunately, that effort came in front of a huge crowd of 11,504 tonight who packed the Qwest Center and made Civic-like noise late in the third period. If there is one positive note that can be taken away from this evening, the crowd is one thing. (Can we finally declare that UNO's era at the Civic Auditorium is FINALLY over? UNO drew over 20,000 fans to a weekend series this weekend.)
Tonight's loss dropped the Mavs to 3rd place in the WCHA, and could be tied with Minnesota Duluth, depending on the outcome of their game with Colorado College tonight. The loss also dropped the Mavs to 10th in the Pairwise rankings, which determine the seedings for the NCAA tournament.