Mavs look to build off SCSU sweep against No. 3 Denver


Jordan McAlpine

The Mavericks impressed last weekend in a sweep of then-No.8 St. Cloud State. and will look to keep it going against No. 3 Denver. Photo courtesy of UND Athletics.

The matchup

After passing the first test of the three-week homestand with flying colors, the going doesn’t get any easier this weekend as Omaha (19-13, 9-11) welcomes No. 3 Denver (22-7-1, 15-5) to Baxter Arena.

It’s a team that the Mavericks have historically struggled against as DU leads the all-time series 35-11-5. As for the current teams, DU split at Western Michigan last weekend and the Pioneers are amongst the top teams in the country. However, the Mavericks come into the weekend riding the momentum of a sweep over then-No. 8 St. Cloud State.

“Great weekend last weekend,” said Omaha head coach Mike Gabinet. “Nice to get two big wins against a very good opponent. Looking to build off that this week and prepare for Denver coming into town this weekend.”

It’s the second time these two teams have met this season, as DU swept Omaha on Jan. 15 (5-2) and Jan. 16 (4-0) in the Mile High City. It was the first time the Mavericks had been swept this season and still just one of two on the year (at Miami being the other).

DU was initially set to visit Omaha on Jan. 7-8, but that series was postponed due to a COVID outbreak within the Omaha program.

“They play the same team style (as us). Play aggressive, fast and hard,” said sophomore forward Jimmy Glynn. “So, I feel like if we bring that they can be pretty close games.”

With just four games left in the regular season, it’s a pivotal weekend. The Pioneers are one point behind North Dakota in the race for the Penrose and are currently in position to be a No. 1 seed at an NCAA regional, so these next two weeks will be huge.

On the Omaha side, the Mavericks are looking to play their way back into the NCAA Tournament picture, especially after getting swept at Miami two weeks ago. Combine that with the fact the Mavericks are coming off a sweep of a top-10 opponent and there’s optimism in the Omaha locker room.

“For these last two weekends, we’ve got some pretty big teams coming (to town), but I feel like if we play the way we did last weekend we can beat both of them,” Glynn said.

 So you’re saying there’s a chance?

There are a lot of dominos that would have to fall into place, but there’s still an outside chance for the Mavericks to climb their way back into the top 16. They could also potentially still earn home ice in the NCHC playoffs. Now granted, both would likely require a 4-0 run these next two weeks, there’s one way to make it happen — win.

“We need all of our energy on Denver,” Gabinet said. “The best thing you can do is win hockey games for your chances of success, so I think that’s all we’ve got to focus on.”

Omaha is currently 23rd in the pairwise and sixth in the NCHC, one point behind fifth-place St. Cloud State. Hypothetically, if the Mavericks go 4-0 these next two weeks, they could play their way into the NCAA Tournament.

Even after sweeping the Huskies, the Mavericks found themselves on the outside looking in at the top 20. Better yet, they actually dropped in the pairwise rankings.

“It’s good for us knowing that we can beat those teams,” said sophomore defenseman Nolan Krenzen. “Not necessarily about the rankings, and in terms of pairwise it’s important, but if we know that at this point of the season that we can beat those teams, then we just need to carry that the rest of the season.”

Whether it was after the tough weekend in Oxford or riding the high of sweeping SCSU, the message hasn’t changed.

“We have the same message usually going into every weekend,” Krenzen said. “Our conference is one of those conferences, unlike a lot of others in college hockey, where if you don’t come to play anyone in it can beat you. Which obviously we know based off of a couple of weekends ago. But we just had a good week of practice, just believed in ourselves and we played the way we know we can, and we want to every weekend.”

Special Teams

The last time DU and Omaha met, the series featured 36 penalties. Omaha leads the country with both power-play (159) and penalty kill (153) chances. They’ll hope to limit the latter of the two this weekend, especially against DU’s potent offense.

“The number one goal is to just not take penalties,” Gabinet said. “I think Denver is probably the best offense in the country — and they’ve got guys who can shoot the puck in the net. So again, you want to limit the opportunities to put them on the powerplay. So that’s the first step is to make sure that we’re trying to stay out of the box and stay disciplined.”

DU and Omaha are first and second in the country respectively with 41 and 40 power-play goals as a team. From the Omaha side, the numbers don’t lie either. The Mavericks are 15-9-0 when scoring a power-play goal and 10-4-0 when not allowing one.

Captain heating up

Kevin Conley will be the first one to tell you it’s been a frustrating season at times from an individual standpoint. However, the Omaha captain is heating up at the right time.

Conley has scored in four of the last five games and added an assist in that stretch. That’s five points in five games after putting up just four goals and 12 total points in the first 25. And in case he needed any extra motivation, he’s facing his former team this weekend.

“I thought at North Dakota he really took a step in the right direction,” Gabinet said of Conley. “Just simplifying his game and being what we’re about. Hard-working, competitive, making hard plays and being hard to play against. I think when he does those things, the rest takes care of itself. I thought he’s been excellent the last six games for us.”

Setting the tone

If you watched either game last weekend, chances are you noticed the line of Jack Randl, Glynn and Matt Miller. And if you didn’t, pay attention to the trio this weekend.

“I think those three guys can play with anybody in the country,” Gabinet said. “The way they skate, the way they compete and the way they play the game, I think they’re able to handle a lot of other team’s top lines. They’re a great group to carry some momentum and they played some key minutes for us down the stretch when we’re trying to maintain the lead.”

That line impressed constantly and caused havoc throughout the weekend. Especially Glynn, who had arguably his best series of the season.

“Jimmy Glynn’s a winner,” Gabinet said. “Just if you watch one of our practices or take in one of our games, it’s pretty quick if you’re being observant that he works hard and practices hard and plays hard. Ultimately in a tough conference like this, I think those are the guys that end up showing up when the tough times hit.”

Gabinet said Tuesday afternoon that the trio sets the tone, which is part of the reason they started Saturday night. Especially with their speed and aggressive style they bring. That’s something Glynn said he and his linemates take pride in too.

“I love it, I feel like everyone does it too though,” he said. “We had all lines going this weekend and I feel like everyone was giving it 100%. During practice we do like to get after it a lot, especially our line, and we kind of bring everyone up to that same standard.

“When we got pucks behind them, you could see that they were a little bit more timid going back. They knew that they had three guys coming at them hard and fast. So, I felt like that was a big reason that they turned over a lot of pucks.”

 Around the NCHC

With two weeks left in the regular season, it’s a pivotal weekend in the NCHC. Each team has just four games remaining but there’s still a lot up for grabs when it comes to the race for the Penrose and playoff positioning. Omaha hosts Denver, Miami hosts Minnesota Duluth, Colorado College heads to St. Cloud State and in arguably the most intriguing matchup on the slate, Western Michigan heads to North Dakota.

Last weekend featured three sweeps and a split. Omaha and Colorado College both won a pair of games on home ice over SCSU and Miami respectively. The Tigers won both games in Colorado Springs in overtime. North Dakota also went on the road and swept the Bulldogs in Duluth to move into first place in the NCHC standings. The Broncos and Pioneers split their series in Kalamazoo.

UMD and SCSU also skated to a 1-1 tie this past Tuesday in St. Cloud. The Bulldogs earned the extra point in a shootout.

Here are the updated NCHC standings:

No. 7 North Dakota  45 PTS / 20 GP / 14-5-1

No. 3 Denver 44 PTS / 20 GP / 15-5-0

No. 6 Western Michigan 37 PTS / 20 GP / 12-7-1

No. 8 Minnesota Duluth 31 PTS / 20 GP / 8-8-4

No. 11 St. Cloud State 26 PTS / 20 GP / 7-9-4

Omaha 25 PTS / 20 GP / 9-11-0

Colorado College 18 PTS / 20 GP / 6-13-1

Miami 14 PTS / 20 GP / 3-16-1

*All rankings according to the most recent Feb. 21 poll from

 News and notes

  • Denver enters this weekend averaging 4.53 goals per game, which leads the country.
  • Bobby Brink leads the NCAA with 49 points. Brink has 36 assists, which also leads the NCAA.
  • DU assistant Ryan Massa led the Mavericks to the 2015 Frozen Four between the pipes. Massa is on the trip this weekend.
  • DU’s Lane Krenzen is also the older brother of Omaha defenseman Nolan Krenzen.
  • The Pioneers are just 8-6-0 away from Magness Arena this season. DU is 14-1-1 on home ice.
  • Brandon Scanlin was named the NCHC Defenseman of the Week for the first time in his career this past week. Scanlin had a goal and two assists against SCSU. The junior now has 5-24-29 on the season.
  • The Mavericks scored seven of their 10 goals in the third period last weekend. Omaha has outscored teams 25-16 at home in the third period this season.
  • Taylor Ward ended a seven-game goal drought Saturday night, which was tied for the longest drought of his career. Ward has just four goals over the Mavericks’ last 20 games. Saturday’s goal was his first since Jan. 22.
  • With Krenzen returning to the lineup last weekend, the Mavericks are back fully healthy.
  • Omaha has had six 20-win seasons in the 25-year history of the program. They’ll make it seven with one more win.
  • Omaha finished 4-8 on the road in NCHC games this season. They’re also 6-10-0 in the first game of series and 13-3-0 in game two.
  • Omaha is 14-4-0 when scoring first and a perfect 11-0-0 when leading at the end of the first period this season. The Mavericks are also 14-2-0 when leading after two periods.

Ways to follow

Friday’s game is set for a 7:07 p.m. opening faceoff at Baxter Arena. Game two will follow at the same time on Saturday. Both games will be available on You can also listen to the radio broadcast on 1180 Zone 2 with Casey Roehl and Terry Leahy. As always, check out and follow @jordan_mcalpine on Twitter for live game updates and Omaha hockey coverage all season long.