Zahn Raubenheimer wheeled his way around the UNO dressing room Tuesday, his left foot in a cast and his Maverick hockey career over.
But he's resolute about the way it happened — the senior winger blocked a power-play shot by Western Michigan's Sam Mellor in the closing seconds of the second period of Saturday night's game. Foot broken, Raubenheimer got up and tried to block another shot, and just missed with his right foot.
“Hopefully the guys take it as a sign,” Raubenheimer said. “Even though it's my last year ... I would do it again. I would lay in front of any shot for them. Whether it would have hit me in the throat or hit me in the foot and end my career, I would do that for them. I'm here to win games. Hopefully they'll have that mindset at the end of the season and can make a run at it.”
Raubenheimer said he broke the first metatarsal bone, the thickest and strongest of the metatarsals. He said he's under orders to keep it off the ground for three weeks, with a walking boot likely about the fourth or fifth week and the chance to put weight on the bone after six weeks. The Mavs have two weeks left in the regular season. The national championship game is April 12, seven weeks after Raubenheimer suffered the injury.
“He blocked a shot and the way he did it — unselfish,” UNO coach Dean Blais said. “He tried to block two shots, limping around and went down again. That's the kind of effort that wins this time of year.”
Unfortunately for Raubenheimer and the Mavs, a 3-1 lead against Western Michigan that night turned into a 5-3 loss and UNO had to settle for a split of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference road series.
“It's really unfortunate, especially a senior going into his last four games of the season, and then considering the way he's been playing,” said center Brock Montpetit, a fellow senior. “He's been one of our best forwards for the last month. He blocked a shot, sacrificed his body for the team, and we should have won that game for him. He did that for the team, and he doesn't deserve something like that.”
Raubenheimer finishes the season with a team-best plus-6 rating as well as six goals and five assists for 11 points, including four goals and two assists in his last nine games. For his career, the South African-born, Smoky Lake, Alberta, product, recorded 20 goals and 24 assists in 128 games.
“I don't think it's hit me yet completely, that I'm out for as long as I am and that it could be the end of my hockey career at UNO,” Raubenheimer said. “But what happened happened. There's nothing I can do about it. I just want to be the best leader I can be.”
Raubenheimer said he'll continue to attend practices and will be on hand this weekend as his fellow seniors play their final regular-season home games in a series with Colorado College at CenturyLink Center, with games Friday night at 7:37 and Saturday night at 7:07. He also plans to make the road trip to Minnesota-Duluth for the regular-season finale.
“Maybe I can help some of our young freshmen or sophomores who need advice or who might be a little nervous,” Raubenheimer said. “I just want to help the team any way I can.”
UNO will be at least two players short this weekend, Blais said, as freshman defenseman Ian Brady is still recovering from a knee injury suffered Feb. 15 and won't play.
“Usually the team with the most ice bags is that team that wins late in the year,” Blais said. “And we've got a lot of ice bags.”