Monday, January 12, 2015

UNO Hockey Ranked Eighth Nationally After Sweeping Denver

On the heels of UNO hockey's sweep of now-#13 Denver this past weekend, the Mavericks jumped to #8 in this week's USCHO rankings.  Minnesota State is ranked #1, while North Dakota is ranked #3 and Minnesota-Duluth is ranked #5.  Those are teams UNO has played this season, and the Mavs split series with those teams.

Friday night, UNO got off to yet another slow start, trailing 3-0 midway through the second period before erupting for three goals in four minutes near the end of the second period.  Midway through the third, Denver took a 4-3 lead sending goalie Kirk Thompson to the bench. Thompson has been pressed into service as top goalie Ryan Massa has been out since Christmas with the flu followed by a concussion suffered in practice.  But with three minutes to go, David Pope scored despite a Denver player's illegal hit to tie the game at four.  On the ensuing power play, senior Dominic Zombo crashed the net and pushed a rebound for the game winner in a 5-4 victory.

Saturday night, UNO started hot by dominating Denver in the first period.  Sophomore sensation Austin Ortega scored on a breakaway just three minutes into the game. Denver cranked up the pressure in the second period, dominating the play down the stretch, but Kirk Thompson played his best game ever in a UNO jersey.  Thompson's 39 save perfomance might have been one of the best goaltending performances ever by a UNO Maverick, as Thompson had to make a number of frantic saves to hold the lead.

The sweep moved UNO into the first place in the conference, passing Miami and Minnesota-Duluth at the half-way point in the season. This weekend, UNO goes on the road to play last place Colorado College before returning at the end of the month to play North Dakota.

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