Despite being outshot 42-22, and 21-6 to start the first frame, Denver defeated Nebraska-Omaha Friday evening at the Magness Arena, 7-4. Pioneer’s Matt Tabrum and Zac Larraza each recorded two goals on the night; the latter of which was credited with getting the game-winner. Maverick Ryan Walters put home his NCAA leading 14th goal, while also notching his 34th and 35th points. Nebraska-Omaha goaltender John Faulkner stopped just 15-of-21 shots.
What I Saw
Denver jumped out to a quick start, getting their first two goals within nine minutes of play. While on the power play at 2:29, Denver went tic-tac across the offensive zone, before David Makowski received a centering pass, later hitting the open left side. At 8:41, Denver lit the lamp again, this time shorthanded. Matt Tabrum collected a botched pass in the defensive zone, skated in on a breakaway, and backhanded a shot past Faulkner for the 2-0 lead. After the first, Denver held their two score advantage, yet were outshot by Nebraska-Omaha, 21-6.
Early in the second period, the Mavericks got on the board after Walters and Josh Archibald skated into a 2-on-1. Walters connected with Archibald, who then nailed a shot top shelf. Then, just 14 seconds later, Denver padded their lead when Quentin Shore wristed a shot past Faulkner from the hash marks. Later, in the 18th minute, Andrej Sustr re-directed a drive from the point to once again cut the Pioneer’s lead to one. As predicted, Denver struck back, this time with 30 seconds remaining in the stanza. Shawn Ostrow corralled a rebound, and fired a shot off the pipe. Ostrow then tapped his own rebound in for the 4-2 lead.
In the third period, the Mavericks tied the game for their first time of the evening. 25 seconds into play, Brent Gwidt flicked a loose puck in front of the crease in while shorthanded. Then, at 12:19, Matt White rifled a shot off Juho Olkinuora from the near side boards. Walters was waiting, and knocked in the rebound, tying the contest at four. As one may guess, the tie game was short lived. In the 14th minute of play, Larraza backhanded a shot on a breakaway to give Denver the 5-4 advantage. Less then two minutes later, it was Larraza again, this time on the rebound for his second of the night. Finally, with three seconds remaining in regulation, Tabrum got his second goal of the evening via the empty net.
What I Thought
I wonder if the Mavericks will soon start to miss former goaltender Anthony Stolarz. Stolarz, who left the team for the OHL’s London Knights this past week, recorded a 2.56 goals-against-average in eight games played this year. Not amazing numbers, but losing the depth will surely hurt Nebraska-Omaha, especially if Faulkner starts to tire down the stretch.
Some serious luck was involved during the first period. It’s not often you’ll see a team be outshot 21-6, yet lead by two after 20 minutes. Olkinuora came up huge in stopping every shot he faced through the first, and definitely set the tone for the rest of the game.
If Nebraska-Omaha can learn anything from tonight’s outcome, it’s that they need to finish better and capitalize on their chances. The Mavericks had a Ryan Walters breakaway in the first, along with two additional breakaways in the final period. Not to mention the flurry of shots that were stoned by Olkinuora in the last minute of play with Nebraska-Omaha up two men. The Mavericks need to convert better if they want to compete. It was clear they had better potential, but they couldn’t put it up on the scoreboard.
What Else You Need To Know
With Stolarz gone, expect Nebraska-Omaha to stick with Faulkner for the remainder of the year.
Both teams square off in the final game of the series tomorrow. Puck drop is set for 8:07 p.m., Mountain time.