Playoff Recap: Fighting Hawks soar their way past Omaha into the NCHC semi-finals


Mitchell Cutcher

Sports Editor

The Mavericks won game one of the three game series against North Dakota, but fell to the Fighting Hawks after losing games two and three. Photo courtesy Mark Kuhlmann/

Mavericks take game one over UND 2-1

Omaha and North Dakota took the ice against each other for the second straight weekend, but this time was different. This time, the Mavericks took game one on home ice with a 2-1 win in a thrilling NCHC quarterfinal round.

Both teams started off strong and had several scoring opportunities but neither team was able to jump out in front in the first five minutes. The Mavericks had two excellent chances that were setup by Jacob Guevin and Tyler Weiss. In both instances the Omaha skater made his way past and around multiple UND defenders but came up short on scoring.

The opening period had four penalties called, three on UND and one on UNO. The Mavericks’ three power play opportunities lasted a combined three minutes of game time but they were unable to get a shot on goal with the man advantage. For UND, their lone power play came when Omaha forward, Matt Miller, was called for five minute major for spearing, which was upgraded to a game misconduct and the junior forward’s night ended less than 10 minutes into the contest.

Mavs’ Jacob Guevin kicked off the scoring with a shot from the blue line that found its way into the back of the UND net. The freshman was a bright spot for the Mavericks on a blue line that featured four underclassmen. This was Geuvin’s fourth goal of the season, and he later assisted a goal bringing his point total on the year to 17.

“Great job changing his angle, getting the puck to the net on the first one,” said Omaha head coach Mike Gabinet on Guevin. “I thought everybody was good, whether it’s the D-men with two goals. Obviously losing Matt Miller early, a lot of guys had to play some big minutes. Just a great team effort, and a big win.”

Omaha did not settle for only one goal in the second period and Davis Pennington scored the team’s second goal. UND looked to break out of their own zone but turned it over and Pennington stepped up to score from the left circle, his first goal of the season.

The Mavericks penalty kill showed up in a big way in the second period and killed off a five-on-three power play opportunity. UND’s Joaquim Lemay and Jake Pivonka were both called for hooking within a minute. With help of a UND penalty for too many men on the ice, the Mavericks were able to kill off the penalties.

Cameron Berg had a chance to increase the Maverick lead and ice the game for Omaha when the sophomore forward skated hard towards the UND net. The puck made it through the net for a goal, but the net was knocked out of place and the refs called it a no-goal. The refs reviewed the play to confirm that the puck entered the net after it was knocked out of place.

With their backs against the wall, North Dakota came out for the third period playing with a higher level of intensity but still were unable to find the back of the net. They had a couple of chances that looked to be going into the Omaha goal but Maverick goalie, Simon Latcoczy, shut the door each time. The Omaha netminder finished with 40 saves in another excellent outing.

“Some really key saves at key moments,” said coach Gabinet on Latcoczy’s play. “His compete level around the net, [UND] are a team that’s really aggressive, both offensively and defensively. It’s really important around that net area to play hard, not only our five guys but also our goaltender. He refused to get beat down low tonight, and made some key saves.”

UND did not go down without a fight, pulling the goalie with two minutes left in the game. With the extra man on the ice, the Fighting Hawks were able to create space and Riese Gaber was the first Fighting Hawk to beat Latkoczy. This was Gaber’s 20th goal of the season.

In the final minute of the game the Mavericks scrambled to keep the puck out of their net. Ultimately, they held on long enough for the final horn to sound and they won game one of the quarterfinal round.

North Dakota special teams lead the way to win game two

Between North Dakota’s power play goals and killing off four penalties, the Fighting Hawks showed why they have one of the better special team’s units in the country during Game Two. The Fighting Hawks forced a game three against Omaha with a 2-1 win over the Mavericks.

“They’ve got a great penalty kill,” Coach Gabinet said. “It’s hard to get in zone entry, and hard to regain possession of it. You’ve got to give them credit, they’re definitely giving our power play a tough time, but our power play has been good all year. Just gotta keep finding ways to improve and grow.”

Omaha came out and put the pressure on the Fighting Hawks in the first five minutes. The Mavericks won the opening faceoff and kept the puck in the UND zone for two minutes. Despite the pressure and several top tier chances, Omaha was unable to get the first goal of the game for the second night in a row.

The first goal of game two would come on a breakaway chance that Omaha netminder, Simon Latkoczy, had no chance of making the save on. UND’s Jackson Blake worked his way into the slot and bested the Omaha goalie on his glove side. This was Blake’s 16th goal of the season, assisted by Riese Gaber and Louis Jamernik V.

The Fighting Hawks’ lead did not last for long as just moments after the goal was scored, Luke Bast was called for hooking and the Mavericks’ Joaquim Lemay scored on the power play. The goal was set up by Jacob Guevin, who had a goal and an assist in game one.

“Nice shot from the top,” said coach Gabinet on Lemay’s goal. “We’ve had some consistent luck from shooting the puck from the middle of the ice there, and a real nice shot from him there to tie the game up.”

North Dakota started the second period with a short power play but were unable to score. At the end of the period the Fighting Hawks got a second chance with the man advantage and showed why they have the number-one ranked power play in the country. Tyler Klevin who earned back the lead for UND, assisted by Riese Gaber who contributed on all three of UND’s goals on the weekend up to that point.

The Mavericks had two power plays in the third period but were unable to capitalize on either chance. Ultimately, North Dakota flexed their muscle and allowed few shots on the penalty kill.

The finishing blow from the Fighting Hawks came when Omaha pulled their goalie. Jonny Tychonick fumbled the puck after it came to him on the blue line and Dylan James took it and guided the puck into the empty Omaha goal. James’ goal locked the two teams into a third game.

“It’s nice to be at home here and again we knew North Dakota wasn’t going to go away quietly,” said coach Gabinet on preparing his team for the winner take all game three. “It’s a chance for us to keep growing, it’s a chance to face adversity, and keep challenging yourself mentally and physically. Ultimately if you want to grow in life and want to be successful you gotta look adversity in the eye and deal with it, and then take the actions necessary to make yourself a chance for success the next night. That’s what we’re going to do.”

North Dakota wins game three and clinches birth to the Frozen Faceoff

The Fighting Hawks out shot Omaha 36-14 in their 5-2 win over the Mavericks in the rubber match in the NCHC quarterfinals. North Dakota locked themselves in for a date with St. Cloud State in the Frozen Faceoff.

Omaha was on the verge of disaster as they were called for two penalties at once, setting up a lengthy five-on-three power play for UND. Jacob Slipec was called for hooking and Tyler Weiss was called for tripping. The Mavericks killed off both penalties and kept the scoreboard at zero and Baxter Arena exploded with cheers.

That was not the only thing the fans had to cheer for as Jimmy Glynn gave the Mavericks a 1-0 lead with 5:46 left in the opening period. Davis Pennington shot the puck to the net and Glynn was on the doorstep and deflected the puck into the UND net. This was the junior forward’s fourth goal of the season.

The second period had a total of eight penalties called on both teams, four for each team. The Mavericks power play woes continued in the period while UND was able to capitalize with the man advantage, scoring the game-tying goal 2:36 into the period. Jake Schmaltz fired the net into the back of the Mavericks’ net. Omaha coach Gabinet was frustrated with the number of penalty calls.

“It’s ridiculous,” Gabinet said. “14 penalties in an elimination game, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.”

Later in the period, Omaha’s Cameron Berg received a pass in the slot from Kirby Proctor and was able to score on the Fighting Hawks’ netminder, Drew Deridder. This was Berg’s 10th goal of the season and his second point on the night.

Omaha’s highs continued when they were on the penalty kill and Ty Mueller laid out to clear the puck from their zone. Two plays forced Simon Latkoczy out of the net, and both Jack Randl and Jacob Guevin each stepped up to block a shot. That set of plays set up the Mavericks with a break away chance, but Deridder saved the shot on the other end.

“We had to kill eight penalties, unbelievable effort from the guys,” Gabinet said. “You could see the will on the guys. That’s what we’re all about, never quit.”

The Mavericks’ low point came when they conceded a short-handed goal with just 29 seconds remaining in the second period. Dylan James led a fast break and fired the puck past Latkoczy. This set up a winner-take-all third period where each team was one goal away from St. Paul.

The Mavericks fought hard but were unable to get a goal into the back of the UND net. On the other side of the ice, UND scored three goals in a less than two minute period.

The game-winning goal came with 5:12 remaining in the game from junior forward Griffin Ness, who played the role of heart breaker for the Mavericks. This was only the junior’s second goal of the season, and it could not have come at a more crucial time.

North Dakota’s next two goals came just 17 seconds apart, cementing the win for the Fighting Hawks. The first of the pair was scored by Tyler Klevin. The defensemen stepped up and fired the puck past Latkoczy after a scramble in front of the net. Gavin Hain followed it up with a dagger that likely put an end to the Mavericks’ season.

The Mavericks sat in 18th in the Pairwise Rankings coming into the series deciding matchup with the Fighting Hawks. The loss on Sunday night means that–barring a miracle–Omaha’s season came to an end at the hands of North Dakota.

“I want to thank some of the older guys for helping lay that foundation,” said Gabinet after the game on his team going into next season. “We got a special group of guys in there, and we’ll continue to build on what we established here.”