His team has only played four games, but UNO hockey coach Mike Gabinet likes what he sees.
He’ll like it even better if the Mavericks can extend their win streak this weekend against Alaska Fairbanks.
“We’ve had some tough opponents, and games haven’t come easy,” Gabinet said. “We’ve had to earn what we get, and we’ve seen growth individually and collectively as a team.”
No. 13 UNO will go after its fourth straight win Friday at 7:07 p.m. against the Nanooks at Baxter Arena. The Mavs haven’t lost since a season-opening 4-3 overtime setback against Lake Superior State.
Alaska and UNO will complete the series Sunday at 4:07 p.m. The teams will play again in Fairbanks on Nov. 19-20.
“We’ll be a little more familiar with them the second time around,” Gabinet said. “We’re just thinking about the games this weekend.”
The coach said he respects the Nanooks because they scheduled the Mavs when UNO’s program was just beginning.
“We played them a lot early when we were trying to establish ourselves,” Gabinet said. “I know they don’t have a conference right now, so it’s nice that we could help them a little bit.”
Alaska, which competes as an independent, enters the series 1-1. The Nanooks are playing their first games since the end of the 2019-20 season. They split two with Clarkson last weekend after having to postpone a series against Minnesota because of COVID-19 the week before.
The Mavs are coming off a pair of wins against Maine (4-1 and 5-3). UNO finished both games strong, outscoring the Black Bears 5-0 in the third period.
“Our players commit themselves to put in the work,” Gabinet said. “Lots of credit to our players and strength and conditioning coach Mike Lewis for having them prepared.”
Senior forward Taylor Ward, who has two goals and two assists, said the team has bounced back from that opening loss to the Lakers.
“That first game didn’t end up the way we wanted,” he said. “Ever since then we’ve kept on growing and learned something new every game.”
It also doesn’t hurt that the Mavs are in the middle of a 10-game homestand.
“There’s some pros and cons to that,” Gabinet said. “You’re so busy and have a lot going on administratively at home, but there’s familiarity here and the guys can get ahead in their schooling.”
Junior defenseman Kirby Proctor, who scored the Mavs’ final goal Saturday night, said the primary objective is to keep making progress.
“We’re not worried about the result right now,” he said. “We’re worried about what we’re doing to improve and how can we keep doing that moving forward.”
» Erik Largen is in his third season as Alaska’s head coach and has a 28-36-8 record at his alma mater. He played goalie for the Nanooks.
» Alaska leads the all-time series 23-17-11, though the Mavs are 10-10-5 in home games.
» The Nanooks have not played in Omaha since 2010.
» Sophomore Matt Miller leads the Mavs in goals with three.
» Gabinet said senior defenseman Jonny Tychonick, who did not play against Maine, is questionable this weekend.
» The Mavs have killed off 19 of 20 penalties.