With the Mavericks’ regular season wrapped up, the team now looks ahead to the start of the NCHC quarterfinals Friday. For only the third time since the inception of the NCHC, Omaha will host the first round of the conference tournament when they welcome North Dakota to Baxter Arena.
This season the Mavericks have been successful on home ice, with a 10-6-2 record when playing at Baxter Arena. This level of success at home played a large role in Omaha clinching home ice for the quarterfinal round in the NCHC conference tournament.
Not only is the ability to play that first round at home reward enough, but it will allow Omaha to rest up before playing. The Mavericks have dealt with injuries down the final stretch of the regular season with key contributors such as Jonny Tychonick, Jimmy Glynn, and Ty Mueller missing time in the last month. Mueller’s status is unknown ahead of the playoff series after being out in both games against North Dakota.
“To be able to come home and, you know, rest a little bit and prepare for a playoff series is huge,” said Omaha head coach Mike Gabinet. “So, looking forward to it, I know the guys are really excited about it, but can’t wait to play the playoffs at home.”
While playing at home is reason enough to be excited, the Mavericks play in front of the home fans one more time. This season Omaha has ranked fourth in college hockey attendance, with an average attendance of 6,555. This is Omaha’s first appearance in the top five in college hockey attendance since the 2017-2018 season.
“You want to focus on one thing at a time but it’s very cool to have that in the back of your mind,” said sophomore defensemen Victor Mancini. “Knowing that you’re going to play at home for one more weekend, and how awesome it’s been all year. With this crowd and with the students, and everything that’s been going around in Omaha and at Baxter, it’s going to be awesome.”
As the season comes to a close, Omaha is on the bubble for the NCAA tournament and every game matters. The Mavericks are not only playing to keep their season alive, but they are trying to become the first Omaha team to make the NCHC Frozen Faceoff in Saint Paul. In the past 10 years of the conference the Mavericks are the only team to have not made it to Saint Paul.