Sunday, November 24, 2013

UNO Finishes Their Finest Month of Hockey With Sweep of #8 Miami

When UNO's schedule was released, the month of November stood out for it's ferocity.  Road trip to perennial contender Denver.  Home games against Michigan, North Dakota, and Miami.  A really rough stretch for UNO, who was picked by most to finish last in the inaugural season of the NCHC.

That "rough stretch" turned into quite an impressive month:  the Mavs won six of eight games.  And it's not like the other teams fell apart either:  Last week, Michigan was ranked #5 in the nation, Miami #8, and North Dakota #15.  Denver was receiving votes in the top 20.

Now UNO stands poised to break into the rankings themselves.  Quite possibly top 15.  ESPN SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross has UNO a tad bit higher:
Pretty heady stuff, but it's still awfully early.  And it's an awkward stretch for the Mavs with only one weekend series in the next six weeks.  But UNO enters Thanksgiving weekend in first place in the conference. They've settled on a #1 goalie, as Ryan Massa has been rock solid as of late.  The penalty kill, which was horrible in October, has gotten better.

Friday night's game got off on the wrong foot with Miami scoring on a power play goal in the first period to take a 1-0 lead. But the second period turned into one for the ages - at least the first 19 minutes and 30 seconds.  Dominic Zombo scored 22 seconds in to tie it, then Johnnie Searfoss scored a couple minutes later to put UNO in the lead.  Freshman Austin Ortega scored twice along with Brock Montpetit to give UNO a commanding 5-1 lead.  But with 24 seconds left in the period, Miami scored another power play goal, then scored a third goal with just five seconds left to halve the UNO lead.

But UNO was just as dominant in the third period, and the Mavs won 6-3.  I didn't catch the Saturday night game due to the Husker game. UNO won 3-1 thanks to a Tanner Lane short-handed goal.  Massa stopped 25 of 26 shots for his fifth win of the season.

UNO is off for Thanksgiving, then plays Colorado College for the final series before the Christmas break. The Mavs won't play again at home until January 10th against Minnesota-Duluth, who's currently ranked #19.

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