UNO will hope for something better Friday night against North Dakota in the Mavericks’ final home hockey game.
The Fighting Hawks, ranked second nationally, posted a pair of wins over UNO last weekend. The 11th-ranked Mavs lost 4-1 and 7-1, the first time this season they’ve dropped both games of a series.
“Give them credit because they played really well,” UNO coach Mike Gabinet said. “I thought we were good for 1½ periods each game, but that was it.”
The Mavs are seeking some late-season momentum heading into their final two games. Gabinet knows that won’t be easy against the team that just locked up the Penrose Cup as the league’s regular-season champion.
“They’re obviously a very tough team,” he said. “We need to focus on what we can do better.”
Tempers flared late in Saturday’s game when a skirmish led to five players from each team being sent to the penalty box. UNO’s Noah Prokop and North Dakota’s Gabe Bast were given disqualifications for fighting, and both will be ineligible to play in Friday’s 7:07 p.m. game.
“In our conference, there is so much at stake with every game,” Gabinet said. “It’s natural that emotions are going to run high.”
Four UNO seniors — team captain Kevin Conley, assistant captain Nate Knoepke, Martin Sundberg and Jordan Klehr — could be playing their final games at Baxter Arena. The NCAA has ruled that seniors may return next season because of the pandemic.
The Mavs, who will finish the regular season March 5 at North Dakota, are 13-8-1. They’re in fourth place in the eight-team NCHC with 38 points, one behind Minnesota Duluth.
The Fighting Hawks are 17-4-1 and have 50 points. They have sewn up the No. 1 seed for the league’s Frozen Faceoff playoffs that will be held entirely in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and are ranked No. 1 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.
Gabinet said he is hopeful the four-game stretch against the Fighting Hawks to end the season will help UNO in the postseason.
“You have to play at a high level when you’re playing the No. 1 team in the nation,” he said. “They make you pay for your mistakes, so we need to learn from that.”
North Dakota holds a 27-14-1 edge in the all-time series. UNO is 1-3 against the Fighting Hawks this season. ... Junior forward Chayse Primeau leads the Mavs in scoring. He has eight goals and 14 assists for 22 points, two more than Tyler Weiss. ... Taylor Ward leads the team in goals with 10, two more than Primeau and Conley. ... The Mavs were assessed 63 penalty minutes in Saturday’s loss, the fourth-highest total in school history and the most in the NCHC era. ... Sophomore forward Joey Abate leads the nation in penalty minutes with 59.