How appropriate is it that Miami faces Nebraska-Omaha to commence league play?
Six teams begin their in-conference schedules this weekend, and the RedHawks open their NCHC slate against the Mavericks after landing associate head coach Peter Mannino and multiple commits from UNO last off-season.
BoB takes a look at this weekend’s series between Miami and the Mavericks.
WHO: Miami RedHawks (6-2) at Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (0-5-1).
WHERE: Baxter Arena, Omaha, Nebraska (7,898).
WHEN: Friday – 8:07 p.m.; Saturday – 8:07 p.m.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 20-17-6.
LAST SEASON HEAD-TO-HEAD: UNO, 2-0-0. Jan. 12 – UNO, 11-7. Jan. 13 – UNO, 4-3.
UNO RADIO: Both nights – KZOT-AM (1180), Bellevue, Neb.
MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
NOTES: Though the teams had identical 10-13-1 conference records last season and UNO finished just two games better than Miami, with Mannino behind the RedHawks’ bench his new team is 6-2 and earned the No. 20 spot in this week’s USCHO poll.
Without Mannino and his commits – including defensemen and MU starters Derek Daschke and Bray Crowder – UNO is 0-5-1, losing five straight after an opening-night tie at Union.
The acquisition of those now-Miami blueliners is especially noteworthy because the Mavericks have hemorrhaged in the goals against department this season. UNO has allowed 33 goals, including 11 on the power play and three shorthanded in just six games.
Opponents are averaging 37 shots and scoring on 15 percent of them.
The Mavericks have played all three goalies on their roster, and they have a collective 5.42 goals-against average and .851 save percentage.
Evan Weninger has started five games and has a GAA of 5.01 and team-best save percentage of .872. He stopped 74 shots in last weekends losses at Arizona State but surrendered 12 goals, getting the hook after letting seven in Friday.
Alex Blankenburg and Matej Tomek both have save percentages well below .800 in limited action.
Dean Stewart is the lone Maverick defenseman to find the net this season, as he has scored twice and earned three more assists.
The rest of UNO’s blueline corps has combined for just five points, all on assists, led by Ryan Jones’ two. Stewart, Jones, Lukas Buchta and Jalen Schulz are all returning regulars, having logged at least 30 games for Nebraska-Omaha last season.
Up front, Fredrik Olofsson leads the team in assists (6) and points (7). Zach Jordan – a 16-goal scorer in 2017-18 – and Mason Morelli are tied for the team lead with three goals and are second and third in points, respectively.
Tristan Keck and Teemu Pulkkinen have identical 1-2-3 lines.
Four of the Mavericks’ top five points producers from last season graduated, and freshman and sophomores have a combined three goals and five assists in 2018-19, so UNO needs to hit the recruiting trail hard in the coming months.
By comparison, Miami has generated 21 points from its first-year skater class.
Last season, these teams met for one series, which was played at Omaha, and the RedHawks allowed 15 goals in the two-game sweep.
While Phil Knies did score four times that weekend, Miami would like to see a better defensive effort at Baxter Arena this season.
A couple of online sites list this game as being televised on one of the FOX Sports regional channels, but it’s not showing up on the DirecTV schedule.
If it does pop up we’ll send an update on Twitter.