#13 Omaha beats #9 for first time at Baxter Arena

Photo courtesy Omavs
Leading scorer David Pope (above) got injured on Saturday. The severity is not known.
Justin Kies

The UNO Hockey team finally took the ice again this past weekend against the University of North Dakota, on Feb. 16 and 17, after a much needed 13-day break.

The Fighting Hawks of UND traveled to Omaha’s Baxter Arena to face the Mavericks for their second series of the 2017-18 season, the first one ending in a split. On Friday the 16, UND jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead despite a rowdy Maverick crowd. After an 11-minute scoring drought, UND’s Jordan Kawaguchi broke the seal and went unassisted to give the Fighting Hawks their first goal of the night. Matt Kiersted followed with his own goal during a power play five minutes later to boost UND to that 2-0 lead entering the second period.

The Mavs offense seemed to get going during the second period. Senior Tyler Vesel capitalized on a UNO power play just two and a half minutes into the period to scratch away at the Fighting Hawks’ lead, the score was now 2-1. But during the penalty-filled second period, UND managed another power play and stretched their lead to 3-1 six minutes into the period off the stick of Shane Gersich.

UNO would quickly answer with another power play opportunity, afraid to fall behind an insurmountable UND lead at home, and a goal from Teemu Pulkkinen would bring the score to 3-2 about halfway through the second. Zach Jordan managed to tie it up for the Mavs, assisted from Steven Spinner, with five minutes remaining in the second period from yet another power play. UNO’s Ryan Galt finished off a goal of his own just a minute and a half later to bring the Mavs on top 4-3. UNO was 3/3 on their second period power plays and ended 3/3 on the night.

Unfortunately for the Fighting Hawks, Shane Gersich’s goal early in the second would be the last for them on the night. UNO continued to shut down UND’s offense for the rest of the game while adding on two late goals in the third period from the likes of Luke Nogard and David Pope to give them a 6-3 win at home on Friday night.

UNO would look to do the same on Saturday but that would not prove to be an easy task. After a nail-biting first period and many close calls, both UNO and UND came out of the first with no goals on the board.

Despite UNO being third in scoring throughout the entire NCAA, the Mavs were shut out by the Fighting Hawks on Saturday evening. UND’s goalie, Cam Johnson, saved all 26 of UNO’s shots during game two of the series. Shane Gersich scored for the Fighting Hawks for the second night in a row about halfway through the second period. This lifted UND to a 1-0 lead entering the third period.

Johnny Simonson added to UND’s lead, making the score 2-0 five minutes into the third. As Maverick fans began to file out of Baxter Arena a little early, Rhett Gardner scored another goal late in the third for the Fighting Hawks, helping UND clinch a 3-0 win and to split the series with the Mavs.

After the split with UND, UNO is now 15-14-1 on the season overall and 8-12 in conference play. The Mavs have two more series left on the season and both are against NCHC foes. UNO will host Colorado College next weekend at home and will travel, on March 2 and 3, to play Minnesota Duluth. The Mavs also split their series against both of these teams earlier this season.