Planning a spectacular setup doesn't always have to include every detail.
Dominic Zombo's back-to-the goal, between-the-legs centering pass to Michael Young produced the game-winning goal Saturday night as the University of Nebraska at Omaha took advantage of a third-period major penalty to knock off No. 20 Minnesota-Duluth 3-2.
Zombo didn't necessarily know that Young was skating down the slot, or that anyone else would be there. That's not how it works.
“I saw (Andrej) Sustr's shot went a little wide, and I knew somebody had to be there in front,” Zombo said. “So I just put it there, and thank God, Younger was there. Sometimes it happens that way.”
The Mavericks got their chance after a five-minute major and game misconduct on Adam Krause for checking Josh Archibald from behind.
Sustr fired a high shot that ricocheted off the back wall to Zombo, who was to the right of the net at the goal line. With his back to the post, Zombo redirected the puck between his legs to a waiting Young.
The defenseman turned it into his third goal of the season with 7:48 left, delighting a CenturyLink Center crowd of 6,022.
“I just found the open ice and Zombo was working hard and threw a nice pass out front,” Young said. “The goalie didn't even see it — it went right through their guy and I had a wide-open net.”
Nothing you work on in practice, by the way.
“It was a scramble-fluke,” Young said.
Said Zombo: “Pond hockey stuff.”
But the result provided some positive, and serious, consequences for UNO, which improved to 5-3-1 overall with its third straight victory and stayed near the top of the WCHA standings — three points behind first-place Denver.
The Mavs, who had one three-game winning streak last season (Oct. 21 through Oct. 28), will try for their first four-game streak since February 2011 in Sunday's 2:07 p.m. series finale.
“Duluth is a quick hockey team, a good hockey team, and we're happy to win this one,” UNO coach Dean Blais said. “I'm not saying we stole it, I'm saying it was a hard-fought game and finally we won a 3-2 game.”
Two of the Mavs' three losses this season were 3-2 decisions.
Young (one goal, one assist) Zombo (two assists), Ryan Walters (one goal, one assist) and Sustr (two assists) each recorded two points.
UNO jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first six minutes, then gave up two power-play goals later in the first period before regrouping.
Zombo now has seven assists — he had two goals and three points in 32 games last year.
“I thought this was Dominic's best game of the year,” Blais said. “And he was so good on faceoffs (11 of 17).”
John Faulkner had 30 saves for the Mavs to improve to 5-0-1, matching his win total from last season (5-9-2).
“Johnny is playing so well,” Blais said. “He's just seeing the puck and keeping the game simple for himself.”
UNO scored quickly as Walters, stationed behind the net, set up Archibald for a one-timer in front. Archibald's sixth goal of the season came 38 seconds in.
The Mavs made it 2-0 on a power play less than five minutes later as Walters jumped on the rebound of Sustr's shot from the left point.
But Minnesota-Duluth (2-4-1, 0-2-1) got into an offensive rhythm while skating on power-play chances and capitalized with two goals — including one when the Bulldogs were skating 5 on 3.
“Three stupid penalties,” Blais said. “... We've got to learn and we've got to be disciplined.”
Mike Seidel's fourth goal of the season was set up by freshman Tony Cameranesi at 14:01, with five seconds left in the 5 on 3.
Then Cameranesi, a 2011 fifth-round pick of Toronto, scored. He took a pass in the slot, fanning on his first attempt, then firing over Faulkner's left shoulder on his second try at 19:37.
UNO, sixth nationally in shots on goal per game (35.6) and the national leader in fewest shots allowed (21.6), had its tables turned.
Minnesota-Duluth, helped by an 18-8 edge in the second period, put 28 shots on goal to the Mavs' 14 going into the third period. UNO picked it up and cut the final margin to 32-25 but was still outshot for the first time this season.
“Aside from the start, I thought we played a pretty good game,” Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said. “Obviously penalties hurt us in the third period ... and it was probably fitting that it was a tight hockey game and one team was going to win by a goal. And they found a way to finish on the power play.”
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