Sunday, February 10, 2013

North Dakota Sweeps the Mavs In Omaha's Outdoor Hockey Game

One of THOSE nights for UNO hockey.
Photo (c) 2013
If there ever was going to be any spark for UNO hockey coming out of the program's first outdoor game, it was extinguished by senior goaltender John Faulkner's bad night.  The first two North Dakota shots on goal ended up in the net, as did the fifth shot.  That 3-0 deficit was all North Dakota needed to win UNO's first (and probably last) outdoor hockey game at TD Ameritrade Ballpark.

The Mavs put on a nice comeback attempt in the final 30 minutes and carried the play most of the third period, cutting the North Dakota lead in half to 4-2.  A Danny Christo goal off a UNO turnover in the closing minutes of the game sealed North Dakota's 5-2 victory.

What are my takeaways from the "Battles on Ice"?

I loved the idea of UNO playing outdoors when it was announced, and I still think it was a good idea. The idea of a doubleheader with the Lancers was a bad one.  Too many variables can cause a delay to try to get two games in.  Rain, snow, and yes, even sunshine, as we learned today, presents an issue.  The ice issues that caused the UNO game to be delayed until 6:30 pm weren't anybody's fault.  The schedule that tried to put UNO on the ice in the warmest part of the day was.  Spread the games over two weekends, with each game scheduled for noon on Saturday.  If weather conditions cause a delay, you are only worrying about squeezing one game in over the weekend.  Not two.

And what Einstein at MECA tried to fit two hockey games and a basketball game in one day downtown?  If any Creighton fan is complaining about having to walk an extra three blocks to find a place to park downtown because of soft ice conditions at the hockey game, I have very little sympathy.  Creighton basketball games regularly lead to soft ice conditions at the CenturyLink Center when MECA only allows 3 hours to convert the arena from basketball to hockey.  While the basketball floor may be gone, the ice is in such poor shape, the hockey suffers.

MECA's maintenance crew gets the blame for drilling too deep while setting the pegs for the goal after the ice was resurfaced in the first intermission.  They didn't strike oil; they struck refrigerant...and the gooey green mess took an extra 15 minutes to clear up.

After attending numerous Nebraska football games in November, I didn't have any concerns about the weather tonight.  Yes, it rained - and even a brief snow flurry.  But it was in the mid 40's - at night - in Nebraska.  That's a pretty mild evening.  We were well prepared for the game:  snow pants, blankets, hot packs for our hands and toes.  Even the kids did fine; the biggest issue was the lateness of the game, not the cold.

From my vantage point in the upper reaches of left field, UNO fans did a great job of drowning out the 3,000 North Dakota fans who came to town in the first period.  The rain, snow, cold, and three-goal deficit chased many UNO fans home.  I understand why the casual fan left, but disappointed so many left.  (Truth be told, I saw quite a few North Dakota fans leave as well.)

Did the game suck?  Yep.  But it might have sucked just the same indoors.  Getting swept by North Dakota is not a pleasant thing, but it doesn't mean that an outdoor game was a bad idea.  Here's a news flash:  North Dakota is a pretty good hockey program.  Lots of tradition up in Grand Forks.  They'll be in the national picture in March and April.

UNO's three game losing streak really hurts this season though.  With only six conference games left, it's going to be almost impossible to make up the five points that UNO trails St. Cloud State by.  That being said, Colorado College's three point weekend against Denver moved them into a "team under consideration"...and launced UNO up to 18th place in the PairWise.  As long as Colorado College keeps winning, UNO might still have a shot at the NCAA tournament.
And that's a positive that UNO fans can try to take away from the weekend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"If any Creighton fan is complaining about having to walk an extra three blocks to find a place to park downtown because of soft ice conditions at the hockey game, I have very little sympathy. "


I've got a feeling Creighton fans have other things to complain about at the moment.