In 2023, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) is celebrating their 10-year anniversary as a conference. In those 10 years, there is only one conference member who has never made the trip to Saint Paul, Minnesota: the Omaha Mavericks.
Omaha started off the year slow with a record of 2-3-1, but they have since turned the page to improve to 13-9-2. The Mavericks started conference play strong by splitting with North Dakota, Minnesota Duluth and Denver. Omaha then swept Western Michigan, tripped up against Colorado College where they were swept, but regained their footing with a sweep against Minnesota Duluth.
“The standings right now are so close,” said Omaha forward Jacob Slipec after the sweep against Minnesota Duluth. “The NCHC is such a tough conference. Every point matters and getting the sweep this weekend is a huge separation factor for us.”
This season, the Mavericks have found a recipe for success, taking fewer penalties and being successful on the powerplay. Omaha ranks first in the conference in penalties taken, but they have taken a conference-low 82 penalties this season. On the powerplay, they are converting 27.8% of the time, and this ranks second in the conference.
Jack Randl has been the player to watch for Omaha this season. The senior forward is tied for third in the country with 15 goals this season. Randl started the season red hot with 10 goals in Omaha’s first eight games. Since then, he has cooled off, but the Mavericks have seen other players step up.
Another player who has been a key to the Mavericks’ success in conference play has been sophomore forward Ty Mueller. The Alberta native has nine goals on the year and seven of those have come in NCHC play. Mueller has two game-winning goals on the year, one of which was the game-winner against Western Michigan in a 7-6 thriller in December.
“He’s a great hockey player, he works extremely hard,” said Omaha head coach Mike Gabinet on Ty Mueller. “He’s a young guy, he came in as a true freshman. It’s exciting to see his growth here. He will continue to be an elite player for us here down the stretch.”
As Omaha continues to chase their first NCHC frozen playoff berth, there is one stat they will need to keep in mind. Since 2015, there has never been more than one team who did not host in the first round of the NCHC tournament to advance to Saint Paul. For Omaha, they will want to lock down a top four spot in the conference before the end of the regular season.