UNO is two wins away from a school-record eight consecutive victories.
Of course, the difference between Alabama-Huntsville — the team the Mavericks hammered 8-0 Saturday night — and the team UNO would need to sweep to match the record is huge.
Still, the hot streak by Nos. 14 and 15 UNO has made next weekend’s WCHA showdown with No. 4 Minnesota an intriguing one.
“If we play like that, we can play with anybody,” center Brock Montpetit said. “Eight goals against anybody, it doesn’t matter who, that’s a good night.”
Montpetit had four assists, Ryan Walters had two goals and an assist and freshman Anthony Stolarz earned his first collegiate win with a 20-save shutout before 5,039 fans at the CenturyLink Center.
The Mavs (8-3-1) broke it open with two power-play goals early in the second period for a 3-0 lead and never looked back while scoring five times in the third against the 1-12-1 Chargers, an independent team playing on the road for the sixth consecutive weekend.
“We’re right back to where we were,” said UNO coach Dean Blais, whose team was less than sharp in a 3-2 win over the Chargers on Friday, which came after a bye week. “Last night we had rust all over the place, but I think it was part mental, too. The guys have got to realize that we’re not a very good team if we’re not mentally 100 percent ready to go.
“We’re going into St. Cloud and Minnesota — obviously very talented teams — and we’re going to have to outwork them.”
Minnesota is 9-2-2 overall and 4-2-2 in the WCHA. The Mavs follow their two-game set in Minneapolis with a series at No. 12 St. Cloud State (7-5, 5-3) on Dec. 7 and 8.
Minnesota is the preseason league favorite which opened the season ranked No. 1 nationally. UNO (4-1-1 in the WCHA) was picked to finish eighth in the league and is sitting in fourth with nine points (Minnesota and St. Cloud State each have 10, though both have played two more games).
Do the Mavs still have something to prove? Absolutely, Montpetit said.
“This is our first real test against a team that is higher than us in the rankings and is playing well,” he said. “If we go up there and play the way we can, we can really shock the hockey world and put our name on the map for the season.”
Chargers pest Sebastian Geoffrion left his mark on the first three goals of the game.
Montpetit set up Matt White by splitting two defenders and then dropping a blind pass from the corner to the slot for the first goal, then Geoffrion drew boos when he took the celebratory fish that had been thrown onto the ice and slid it into the neutral zone.
Then Geoffrion, whose grandfather “Boom Boom” is usually credited with inventing the slap shot, picked up a five-minute major penalty and disqualification near the end of the first period for contact to the head on Andrew Schmit.
The Mavs made Geoffrion and the Chargers pay with their two early second-period goals, part of a 3 for 5 night with the man-advantage.
“Our power play is starting to click, and five minutes of a clicking power play can really wear a team down,” Montpetit said.
Nick Seeler delivered his second goal of the season — a one-timer from the top of the slot — after the advantage had become 5-on-3. And 22 seconds later, with the five-minute major still being enforced, Andrej Sustr found Dominic Zombo with a pass from the left faceoff circle to the right post, and Zombo converted his fourth goal in three games.
“It gave our guys a little bit of jam and more leeway to start taking some chances,” Walters said. “We created a lot of offense from that point on.”
Walters extended his goal-scoring streak to five games, converting in traffic in front for a 4-0 lead just 49 seconds into the third period. Johnnie Searfoss made it 5-0 when his low-angled shot from the left corner, just above the goal line, got past Gregg Gruehl at the near post for an unassisted score.
Walters made it 6-0, wrapping around the net from left to right and tucking it in the goal, then Zahn Raubenheimer upped it to 7-0 and Brent Gwidt made it 8-0 with late scores.
UNO put together an eight-game winning streak during the 2001-02 season and hadn’t won more than five games in a row since.
The Mavs scored eight goals for the first time since their 8-4 win over North Dakota in the 2010-11 season.
Stolarz gave UNO its first shutout since last February at Michigan Tech.
“Our team did a great job of holding (UAH) on the outside and letting me see the first shot,” said Stolarz, the Philadelphia Flyers’ second-round draft pick.
Walters is tied for eighth nationally with 16 points (six goals, 10 assists), and Montpetit is tied for fifth with 11 assists.
“All the lines seemed to be rolling,” Walters said. “It’s a huge confidence-booster going into next weekend at Minnesota.”
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