Mavericks freshman Austin Ortega scored 11 seconds into the National Collegiate Hockey Conference game, a school record, and the hosts never looked back en route to a 6-0 victory over the Tigers.
“They were really good tonight,” CC coach Scott Owens said. “Their forwards gave us a lot of trouble. We were slow to react and were flat-footed to start the game.”
The third-place Mavericks (14-15-2, 11-8-2-1 NCHC) took a three-goal lead early including when Brock Montpetit scored a shorthanded goal only 2:15 into the contest.
It was the first shorty allowed by the seventh-place Tigers (6-19-6, 6-10-5-1) this season.
Almost three minutes later, UNO made it 3-0 when Dominic Zombo forced a turnover behind the Colorado College net and passed out front to freshman Jake Guentzel, younger brother for former Tiger Gabe Guentzel, for the score with 14:32 left before 6,541 fans at CenturyLink Center
The third goal on four shots ended senior goalie Josh Thorimbert’s night. Junior Courtney Lockwood came on and recorded 23 saves in 55 minutes.
Colorado College had its opportunities to battle back, with Nebraska-Omaha picking up two penalties on junior Jaycob Megna in the first period. But the UNO power play, rated 46th at 79.7 percent, continued its torrid pace since Christmas (91 percent). The CC power play was able to generate only five shots over four power plays.
UNO pulled away when league-leading scorer Josh Archibald scored in the second period and again in the third period for his 27th and 28th goals this season, setting a school record. Zombo picked up his third assist of the night on the fifth goal with 15:56 left in the third.
“We’re a good hockey team and we are playing well right now,” Zombo said. “But we cannot worry about home playoff ice. We just need to focus on the first period Saturday against CC.”
Nebraska-Omaha moved within three points of second-place SCSU in the standings with three games remaining in the regular season. North Dakota pulled ahead of everyone with a 5-2 road win over St. Cloud State to improve to 15-2-1 in its last 18 games.
Less than a week after the high point of the season so far – winning the Gold Pan Trophy over rival Denver – the Tigers will try for s road split on Saturday.
“We’ll see,” said Owens, who coached his 600th game (323-223-54) at his alma mater. “We are playing a good team. They are a third-place team which is on a bit of a roll right now.”
CC remains seven points ahead of last-place Miami, 5-4 losers at home to fifth-place Minnesota-Duluth, with three games (maximum nine points) remaining.
Nebraska-Omaha 6, Colorado College 0
Colorado College 0 0 0 –0
Nebraska-Omaha 3 1 2 –6
First period – 1. UNO, Ortega (unassisted) :11; 2. UNO, Montpetit (Zombo) 2:15 (SH); 3. UNO, Guentzel (Zombo, Archibald) 5:28. Penalties – UNO, Youso, roughing, 1:55; UNO, Megna, holding, 9:59; CC, Krushelnyski, hooking, 11:36; UNO, Megna, hooking, 16:28.
Second period – 4, UNO, Archibald (Montpetit, Young) 3:07 (PP). Penalties – CC, Rothstein, boarding, 5:38; CC, Bradley, high-sticking, 8:47; CC, Roos, high-sticking, 15:38; CC, Young, holding, 19:09.
Third period – 5. UNO, Archibald (Guentzel, Zombo) 4:04; 6. UNO, Polk (Seeler, Pearce) 11:56 (PP). Penalties – UNO, Zombo, slashing, 6:45; CC, Harstad, hooking, 10:56.
Power play – CC 0-4, UNO 2-6. Shots on goal – CC 6-7-7 – X20 UNO 12-7-11 – 30. Saves-minutes – CC, Thorimbert 1-5:28; Lockwood 8-6-9 – 54:32; UNO, Massa 6-7-7 – 59:39. Referees – Dreger, B. Shepherd. Linesmen – Fitzpatrick, Stanton. Attendance – 6,541 (16,680 capacity).
CC’s all-time team slanted toward recent players
Earlier this season, Tiger fans voted for their all-time CC hockey greats. Most of the first-team spots going to players from the modern era. Four forwards were chosen for the first and second teams with two defensemen and a goalie apiece.
The first-team forwards are: Bill “Red” Hay (1956-58); Jaden Schwartz (2010-12); Peter Sejna (2000-3); and Brett Sterling (2002-6). Defensemen Tom Preissing (1999-2003) and Mark Stuart (2002-5) made the list as did goalie Curtis McElhinney (2001-5).
The second-team forwards are: Dave Delich (1975-79); Doug Palazzari (1970-74), Marty Sertich (2002-6) and Brian Swanson (1995-99). The defensemen honorees are Doug Lidster (1979-83) and Scott Swanson (1995-99). Ryan Bach (1992-96) is the netminder.
The eight forwards combined for 673 goals and 941 assists for 1,614 career points and an average of 201.8. Delich, Palazzari and Brian Swanson are Nos. 1-3 on CC’s all-time points list.
Eight of the 14 honorees played on teams that reached the NCAA national semifinals while two, Sejna (2003) and Sertich (2005) won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey’s best player. Both goalies, Hay, Sterling and Brian Swanson are two-time All-Americans.
CC senior captain Eamonn McDermott played for UNO coach Dean Blais at Fargo of the junior U.S. Hockey League. … The dorm fire that left six freshman Mavericks players homeless on Wednesday was linked to a burning cigarette left behind on a second-floor balcony. … Air Force senior Jason Torf and three NCHC goalies — Denver’s Sam Brittain, Minnesota-Duluth’s Aaron Crandall and Ryan Faragher of St. Cloud State — are up for the inaugural Mike Richter Award. Candidates were determined by nominations from all 59 Division I coaches. The finalists and winner will be selected by a committee of coaches, scouts and media. … Five former NCAA players claimed Olympic gold medals, with Duncan Keith (Michigan State) and Jonathan Toews (North Dakota) becoming the first former college players to win gold twice. Vermont, with Patrick Sharp and Martin St. Louis, produced two gold medalists.