Sunday, February 26, 2012

Minnesota Sweeps UNO

Disappointing weekend for UNO hockey this weekend as #5 Minnesota came to Omaha and won back-to-back 3-2 victories over the Mavs.  The Gophers dominated the latter part of the first period, and the Mavs were lucky to go into intermission only down 1-0.  But in the second period, the Mavs seized control of the game with an even-strength goal by Brock Montpetit then a short-handed goal by Jayson Megna.

But early in the third period, the Gophers tied up the game with a goal that was officially credited to Nick Bjugstad, but I still think was actually an own-goal that UNO's Brent Gwidt knocked past Ryan Massa.

That took the air out of UNO's sails and the game went to overtime where controversy erupted for UNO fans. Terry Broadhurst gets knocked to the ice, giving the Gophers an odd-man rush that results in the puck in the back of the net. Watch where Dean Blais tries to stare down the refs, seemingly furious at the non-call against Minnesota.

BTW, props to UNO's organ boy. While he struggles to carry a tune (such as his horrific take on Van Halen's "Jump") most of the game, the selection of Cee Lo Green's "Eff You" as the Gophers skate off the ice was rather poignant.

Saturday night, UNO jumped up to a quick lead as Gwidt scored, only to let the Gophers tie and then take the lead halfway through the first period.  That sent Massa to the bench in favor of John Faulkner, who got hung out to dry in the second period as the Mavs lost track of Kyle Rau, who scored to give the Gophers a 3-1 lead.

As the Saturday night game wore on, UNO just plain looked like a tired team.  At times, they struggled to recognize where to go and where to pass the puck.  One of the trademarks of Dean Blais' teams since he took over the UNO program was crisp passing, but that wasn't seen much in the second half of the Saturday night game.  The one highlight of the night was Matt White taking advantage of a lazy Gopher pass for a beautiful short-handed goal to pull the Mavs within one goal.

(Another aside...nice to see that Fox Sports never updated their UNO logo, so they used the much better looking 1997-2010 Durango instead of the more hideous revised bull head...)

But UNO couldn't tie it up, and the Gophers skated back to Minneapolis with all four points.  UNO sits in a tie with Colorado College for 5th place; the top six teams earn home ice in the playoffs.  In seventh place, Michigan Tech sits 1 point behind the Mavs and Colorado College, who plays Tech this weekend.  Meanwhile, UNO has play #9 Denver at home, including an early 6:37 pm start Friday night as the game will be televised by NBC.  A split "probably" means UNO gets home ice...but it's such a logjam with four teams within two points of each other, there are too many scenarios to consider.

If there was one thing to feel optimistic about was that Wisconsin's sweep of Bemidji State makes it less likely that the Mavs would have to play the Beavers.  UNO has shown they can play with just about everybody in the country this season...except, of course, Bemidji State.

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