Penalties give, and penalties take away.
The Chargers staked a 2-0 lead in the second period, but Omaha scored two power play goals in the third and an extra attacker goal with 20.8 seconds left to force a 3-3 tie on Saturday.
UAH (3-14-3) ended a 24-game losing streak against ranked opponents, but the Chargers had their chances to make it a W against the 12th-ranked Mavericks (11-4-3) of the NCHC to finish the non-conference season and 2014.
Charger goaltender Carmine Guerriero, making his second straight start, made 29 saves, and he had to be strong early to keep the game scoreless after one. He made seven saves in the first period, and was shaken a little bit after Luc Snuggerud, after a drive to the net, was knocked into him by Richard Buri with 4:02 left in the period. He used the media timeout to get focused, and was able to keep the Mavericks at bay.
UAH then struck for two goals in the second period, both on the power play.
Brian Cooper went off for slashing at 3:32 of the frame, and the Charger power play was ugly to start, but so beautiful at the end. Turnovers led to three UNO chances shorthanded. Just as the power play was expiring, Jack Prince received a cross-ice pass from Max McHugh, slamming a one-timer past Crosswaithe to give UAH a 1-0 lead.
It was Prince’s third goal of the season. McHugh’s assist was his seventh, and Brandon Parker notched his team-leading eighth assist.
After James Polk was called for hooking at 11:10, McHugh made it 2-0 UAH on a goal of his own, cutting across the slot to beat Crosswaithe after getting a feed from Chad Brears. McHugh’s fifth goal of the season was assisted by Brears (sixth) and Prince (seventh).
Meanwhile, Guerriero kept squaring off on pucks as UNO desperately tried to cut into the Charger lead. Jake Guentzel knows all too well, as he was denied on point-blank shots in the final minutes of the second period.
Then came a penalty-filled third period for the Chargers, which allowed the Mavericks to come back.
UNO started the third replacing Crossthwaite, who was making his first career start, with Ryan Massa, their top netminder, as the Chargers would open the period on the power play. UAH would be stopped, and that was their last power play chance of the night.
At 5:03, Carpenter goes off for hooking. It took only five seconds to end the shutout, and for Ortega to finally get on the scoresheet for the weekend. His 10th goal of the season cut UAH’s lead to 2-1.
Carpenter did make amends just 14 seconds later, scoring his second goal of the season to regain the two-goal lead for the Chargers at 3-1. He was assisted by Jeff Vanderlugt and Matt Salhany.
Vanderlugt went into the box for interference after knocking down Massa at 9:27, and UNO again quickly converted. Ortega notched his second goal of the game just 15 seconds into the power play to make it a one-goal game again, 3-2 UAH.
The Chargers withstood two more power plays on McHugh’s tripping call at 13:54 and Brears’s boarding penalty at 16:37, but not without scares. With five minutes to go, the Mavericks found the post with Guerriero prone. UNO pulled Massa during the last power play to essentially give them a two-man advantage.
In all, UAH had five penalties in the third period, including a 10-minute misconduct on Brears for arguing the boarding call. That was more than the four they had in all of Friday’s game (a 2-1 Omaha win).
UNO pulled Massa again with 30 seconds in regulation, and Guentzel would finally not be denied. Dominic Zombo won the faceoff to Guerriero’s left, and Guentzel fired the puck past Guerriero with 20.8 seconds left to tie the game at 3-3 and force overtime.
Guentzel almost won the game for the Mavericks with under two minutes left in overtime, but Guerriero came up big to keep the game a draw.
After overtime, Omaha won the three-round shootout 1-0. The NCHC has shootouts to settle ties for conference standings, but for nonconference games and NCAA purposes it goes down as a tie for both teams. It was UAH’s first-ever shootout.
After a holiday break next weekend, the Chargers return home to WCHA play against the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves on January 2 and 3. Puck drop at the Von Braun Center both nights is 7:07 p.m.
NOTES: The last time UAH did not lose to a ranked opponent was Jan. 6, 2012, a 3-2 win at No. 11 Denver. … Omaha outshot the Chargers 32-28. … McHugh has his second multi-point game of his career with the assist and goal in second period.