Saturday, January 05, 2013

Sustr Powers UNO Hockey Into First Place

About midway through the third period of a tied hockey game, Colorado College's Mike Boivin crashed into UNO goalie John Faulkner.  When the ref raised his hand to indicate a penalty, I expected UNO's Andrej Sustr to get a tripping call for sending Boivin crashing into the goal.  So did everybody around me in the upper deck.

Fortunately for UNO, the refs saw the play differently.  Boivin went off with a minor roughing call and it was UNO on the power play.  And instead of Sustr being the goat for drawing a critical penalty, Sustr became the hero, scoring six seconds later with a laser beam slapshot to give the Mavs a 2-1 lead.  A half-minute later, Josh Archibald fired another slapshot into the goal for a 3-1 lead that UNO was able to hold onto.

The game started pretty sloppy.  Not sure if the ice wasn't in the best of shape, if UNO came out extremely sluggish, or if Colorado College was fired up after being embarassed on Friday. Or maybe "all of the above".  UNO didn't get their first shot on goal until nearly midway through the first period, and that actually was merely clearing the zone while shorthanded.  That same power play gave the Tigers their first goal of the game a minute later.  UNO's offense continued to be nonexistent for rest of the first period and most of the second period.  I'm sure the celebration fish that gets thrown onto the ice after the first UNO goal of the game was getting well thawed and fragrant.
But Bryce Aneloski sent the fish onto the ice with a short-handed goal off a turnover generated by Brent Gwidt just before the second intermission to set up UNO's dominant third period.  As the third period unfolded, UNO seemed to wake up and take control of the game.

The win moves UNO into sole possession of first place in the WCHA at the halfway point of the season; that's the latest the Mavs have been in first place in the program's history.  That's not an accomplishment by itself, but rather cements home that this is UNO's best start to a hockey season ever.  And considering that Dean Blais teams traditionally have been stronger down the stretch, that's a really positive sign.

Next week, UNO heads to #11 Denver for a two game series.  The Friday night game will be televised by NBC at 9 pm central time.

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