UNO's weekend split at Minnesota may not have done much to impress voters in the national polls, but that ultimately doesn't matter much anyway.
The main thing for the Mavericks is that they head into St. Cloud State for another key WCHA series this weekend still feeling good about where they are at.
“We've got a lot of confidence,” junior forward Ryan Walters said. “After beating a team like that and then sticking with them (Saturday), we're pretty confident that we'll do well in St. Cloud, another great building with another great atmosphere.”
The Mavs (9-4-1, 5-2-1 WCHA) play the Huskies (8-6, 6-4) at the National Hockey Center at 7:37 p.m. Friday and 7:07 p.m. Saturday.
UNO, which entered last weekend ranked Nos. 13 and 14 in college hockey's two major polls, earned a 3-2 win against then-No. 3 Minnesota in Friday's series opener at Mariucci Arena. After falling behind 3-0 on Saturday, the Mavs pulled within 3-2 and had two shots on goal in the closing minutes before falling.
Minnesota dropped to Nos. 4 and 5 in the rankings released Monday.
UNO slipped a spot — from 13th to 14th — in the USCHO.com poll. Quinnipiac extended its unbeaten streak to eight games (7-0-1) during a weekend that included a 4-0 win over then-No. 8 Union, jumping the Bobcats from 16th to 13th.
The Mavs stayed No. 14 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Top 15.
The Mavs, who had a seven-game winning streak — one short of the school record — snapped Saturday, are in fourth place in the WCHA with 11 points. But they have also played two fewer games than the top three teams and only first-place Denver (7-2-1) is averaging more points per game than UNO.
St. Cloud State settled for a weekend split at last-place Alaska-Anchorage — the Seawolves' only league win — and is tied with Minnesota for second place with 12 points. The Huskies dropped out of the USA Today Top 15 and fell to No. 17 in the USCHO.com poll after being ranked 15th and 14th last week.
UNO coach Dean Blais said he likes that the Mavs are playing back-to-back weekends on 200-foot by 100-foot ice sheets.
“We played well on the Olympic-sized rink (at Minnesota) and we couldn't have asked for anything better,” Blais said. “It's going to help us. It took us a period to get used to it after practicing on it Thursday and Friday morning, but you've got to go in there in the heat of the game to get used to it. We competed pretty well on it the whole weekend.”
Walters continued his hot streak with two assists each night. He has six goals and 11 assists during a seven-game point streak.
“He's at the top of his game and is making a lot of things happen,” Blais said. “We just need more guys going like that.”
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