UNO coach Dean Blais is hoping all his seniors will react to the approaching end of the season the way that winger Zahn Raubenheimer has.
“You can see that Zahn is realizing that the end of his college days is coming,” Blais said. “He’s been real intense in practice, and he’s been more of a leader on the bench and in the locker room. His senior season is dwindling down. ... The end is near. Let’s not waste it.”
Raubenheimer made the most of his opportunities in a weekend split with St. Cloud State, scoring arguably the two most spectacular goals in the Mavericks’ 11-goal barrage.
Starting with his back to the goal, he fired a spinning shot from the right faceoff circle while collecting a bounce off the boards, tying the series opener 3-3 in the third period. And while UNO lost that game, Raubenheimer put the Mavs ahead to stay in Saturday’s wild 8-6 win, breaking a 5-5 third-period tie on a quick-trigger laser from low in the left faceoff circle that beat the goalie high and to the short side.
“The old saying is to put the puck on the net and sometimes good things happen,” Raubenheimer said.
A 23-year-old from Smoky Lake, Alberta, Raubenheimer has four goals and four assists for the season, and his plus-3 rating trails only forward Josh Archibald and defenseman Brian O’Rourke (both plus-4) on the Mav roster. Including a Jan. 18 assist at Miami (Ohio), Raubenheimer has a three-game point streak as his college career enters its stretch run.
“When you see it’s winding down, you try not to think about it too much, but this could be the last five weeks of your hockey career,” Raubenheimer said. “We could go on to school, go do something else, maybe get a (pro) contract.”
Raubenheimer still has some work to do in order to match last season’s career-high nine goals or the career-best 10 assists he had as a freshman. But working with fellow senior Johnnie Searfoss and sophomore Tanner Lane, he’s helped give the Mavs a productive third line.
“This last two or three weeks, our line has done well together,” said Raubenheimer, who has 41 career points on 18 goals and 23 assists. “We’ve started putting the puck in the net, and we’re hoping that will continue. With two seniors, it’s part of our responsibility to bring offense as well, and not just have the line with Arch (Archibald) and (Dominic) Zombo to do it all. Especially when it’s our third line against their third line. We have to score more goals than we have.”
Raubenheimer said that on both of his weekend goals, the idea was to get a quality shot on net more than anything.
“Our line was doing a great job cycling,” Raubenheimer said. “But it was cycle, cycle ... and then we’d lose it. So I wanted to get a puck on net and start from there maybe. Both times I shot, the puck just found its way in. There wasn’t a 2-inch-by-2-inch space where I saw netting and shot it in.”
Friday’s spinning shot surprised him.
“The puck was knuckling, and nine times out of 10 you’ll go under the puck and it’s going to go over the glass,” Raubenheimer said. “I was just trying to keep my blade down so I could keep it on net. ... I happened to catch it absolutely perfect.”
Saturday’s clutch goal was a little more standard sniping.
“I had my head up for that one at least,” Raubenheimer said, laughing. “But I didn’t necessarily think it was going to go in. I thought it would be a good shot on net.
“Johnnie did a great job of cycling, and as soon as I got the puck I thought maybe the goalie was a little bit out of position. ... And I thought if I could put it on net, maybe we could outnumber them and be the first one there for the rebound. In this league, if you can catch a goalie out of position, you have a chance to score goals. The faster you can get it on, tight shots, that’s how the great scorers in this league score. They shoot when the goalie doesn’t necessarily think they’re going to shoot.”
As a team, the Mavs have focused on playing desperately in games when it appears they’ve been backed into a corner. That can apply on an individual basis, too.
“I’m hoping all our seniors are getting desperate like Zahn is right now,” Blais said.