The announcers on NCHC.tv for #12 Nebraska-Omaha (11-4-2, 6-3-1 NCHC) regularly lamented that the homestanding Mavericks were “letting the Chargers stay in this game”, a remark that kinda irked me on Twitter:
The UNO announcers are bemoaning the fact that the Mavs are letting UAH hang around. You know what? Keep thinking that, fellas.
— UAHHockey.com (@weloveuahhockey) December 21, 2014
But the only way that UAH (3-14-2, 2-10-0 WCHA) are only going to garner national respect when they win these kinds of games. Unfortunately for the Chargers, keeping an even shots-on-goal differential (31 for UNO, 25 for UAH) didn’t translate into a lot of Grade A chances. As such, the lone UAH goal came off of the stick of senior forward Jeff Vanderlugt (Richmond Hill, Ont.) with just :11 remaining in regulation, cutting UNO’s final margin to 2-1 and denying sophomore goaltender Kirk Thompson (Surrey, B.C.), who made 24 saves to pull up to move to 2-1-0 on the season.
The Chargers outshot the Mavs 10-9 in the first period, but it was a late power-play goal at 18:56 that put the home squad up 1-0 heading into intermission. :17 into sophomore forward Matt Salhany‘s (Warwick, R.I.) hooking penalty, Maverick junior defenseman Brian Cooper (Anchorage, Alaska) potted a goal on the nation’s #1 special teams unit. Cooper’s fourth goal of the season was assisted by freshman forward Tyler Vesel (Rochester, Minn.) and freshman forward Avery Peterson (Grand Rapids, Minn.).
The second period was fairly quiet — as was the whole game, really. UNO had a speed advantage, but time and again, the recovering UAH defensemen would push the forecheckers wide and deflect shots and passes into the corner. This is evident in the stats for UAH sophomore goaltender Carmine Guerriero (Montréal, Que.), who made 29 saves in an effort that dropped him to 3-8-1 on the season.
UNO sophomore forward Justin Parizek (Lakeville, Minn.) scored his eighth goal of the season just :13 after freshman defenseman Brandon Parker‘s (Faribault, Minn.) slashing penalty ended, as the Mavs had the Chargers scrambling to return to their standard set. Vesel notched his second assist of the night on the game-winner.
While UAH kept working to the end, the only reward was Vanderlugt’s goal, which was assisted by freshman defenseman Cody Champagne (Brookfield, Conn.).
There were plenty of things to like tonight:
- The SOG differential was far more even than I expected, given UNO’s talent level. That was a very workmanlike effort for the Chargers.
- Mike Corbett definitely has his shutdown line in senior forward Doug Reid (Innisfil, Ont.), senior forward Craig Pierce (Roswell, Ga.), and sophomore forward Brent Fletcher (New Westminster, British Columbia). I think that Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson is still complaining about the Bulldog Line’s harassment of his top line; UNO coach Dean Blais probably feels the same way. There were a couple of shifts tonight where Pierce was an absolute wild man, seemingly every where at once and using his body to full effect. Make no mistake: those guys really, really give a crap.
- Carmine looked very good in net — the game-winner was a slapshot glove/short side that ricocheted in off of the post. Will he start tomorrow night? My guess would be that sophomore goaltender Matt Larose (Nanaimo, British Columbia) will get the nod to keep him fresh. UAH plays all five weekends in January, and since it’s reasonable to think that Carmine starts at least seven of those games, you need to keep Larose in the groove.
- Penalties! The boys only committed four penalties for eight PIM! That’s half of the usual total! Sadly the blazing hot streak of the PK units seems over, but we’ll take the result.
- There was just a lot of energy all night long, and let’s be honest — it’s the weekend before Christmas. The boys went to Alaska right after finals. They couldn’t really go too far afield before going to Nebraska on Thursday. They want to see their families just as much as any of the rest of us do. These pre-Christmas games are really, really hard to play, and you have to respect that the boys came out with jump all night long.
The two teams tangle at 5:07 p.m. Central to finish UAH’s 2014 slate. Michael will take care of you on Sunday night. Y’all have a great time with friends and family in the last week-plus of the year, no matter how you choose to celebrate it! UAH hockey is better for your support and interest.