Rumble in the Aud: Maverick Stampede


By Brian Brashaw

Rumble in the Aud: Maverick Stampede

Brian Brashaw

Sports editor

Two top 10 schools in the college hockey world will trek to Omaha on Oct. 11 and 12 as UNO hosts the third annual Maverick Stampede at the Civic Auditorium.

Denver, ranked No. 2 in U.S. College Hockey’s preseason poll, will play No. 7 Michigan State Friday at 5 p.m. in the first game of the Stampede. The Mavericks play Colgate at 8 p.m.

The winners will play for the Omaha Cup Saturday night at 8 p.m. The other two teams will play a consolation game at 5 p.m.

UNO began hosting the season-opening tournament in 2000 as a way to raise money for the university, generate local and national focus on Omaha and ultimately turn heads at the NCAA.

Maverick coach Mike Kemp said: “We want to bring in teams here into this tournament that make it a marquee event nationally. They’re going to look up and say ‘Wow, look at what’s at the Stampede, that’s a hell of a tournament.'”

This year features two top 10 teams playing. Denver won the Western Collegiate Hockey Association title last season and advanced to the western regionals. Michigan State finished second in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and also advanced to the western regionals.

UNO will play Colgate Friday night after just 11 practices. With 10 rookies coming in, Kemp wishes he had more time to integrate the freshmen.

“We’d love to have 16 to 20 practices like other sports get but that’s not the case,” Kemp said. “Instead of trying to rush our team along, we’re going to come in with a simple, sound approach.”

Colgate had an off year, finishing in a tie for sixth in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference. However, the East-Coast-style hockey Colgate plays could still give UNO fits.

“They’re going to be very quick, they are going to move the puck very well and they will be an upbeat offensive style team,” Kemp said.

With all the talented teams coming in, the university as a whole is looking to attract a large crowd, not just to the UNO games.

“The philosophy of this tournament has been to give our fans here in Omaha the best college competition,” Kemp said.

The first two years of the tournament have featured a team that has made the Frozen Four. Boston College, who won the Omaha cup in 2000, also won the national title. Michigan, who finished second last year, made the Frozen Four semi-final.

It is to the advantage, Kemp said, to play such a tough schedule up front, and it is especially beneficial for the rookies before conference play.

“We want to make sure we get them into the toughest competition we can so that they can see what it is going to take going into league competition,” Kemp said. “In the CCHA every night is a war.”

Kemp said national powers Maine and Wisconsin have already committed for next year’s event. Kemp was an assistant coach at Wisconsin for 25 years before he took the head coaching job at UNO.


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