Thursday, April 30, 2015

1971: Mavericks, Unicorns, and Oysters ... Oh, My!



When it comes to replacing a mascot, you sort of have to feel for North Dakota.

UNO had to replace Ouampi the Indian in 1971.

The Omaha World-Herald had a list of the submissions on Sept. 23 of that year. The students and faculty were then able to vote the following week, with the winner announced at the homecoming game on Oct. 9.

Some of the submissions were clever, some were rather pedestrian, and others seem particularly "head scratching."

Here were the submissions:
Red Devils
Red Demons
Super Devils
Raiders
Wildcats
Mavericks
Prairie Dogs
Spartans
Plainsmen
Omahawks
Pumas
Unicorns
Omahogs
Students
Strawberries
Road Runners
Hombres
Sodbusters
Engineers
Outlaws
Gorillas
Oven Birds
Owls
Oysters
Penguins
Trappers
Scooners
Flashes
Amigos
Messengers
Pintos
Thrashers
Scouts
Beefeaters
Rustlers
Maize Men
Broncos
Dodgers
Helmsmen
Toreadors
Packers
Cavemen
Head Hunters
Harvestmen
Cosmopolitans

While "Maverick" might not be the flashiest moniker for athletics, it is a far sight better than "Strawberries" or "Students"...

"Omahawk" would have been fun merely for the fact that we could refer to our hockey program as "Omahawkey."

I wasn't sure what an "Oven Bird" was exactly (I thought of Thanksgiving when I saw the name). Apparently, it is small songbird of the warbler family.

The ultimate finalists were Mavericks, Unicorns, Demons and Road Runners. "Maverick" beat "Unicorn" by 51 votes.

http://unoalumni.org/retrospect-unicorns

The winner in 1971 received $50 from the student senate.

I wonder how the person who submitted "Maverick" spent their Ulysses S. Grant?

There's a lot of great unused suggestions here, North Dakota.






Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Herb Brooks Was Right (Of Course He Was...)

Note: My husband Jon will be guest posting this entry: 

"I love the Civic," (Herb) Brooks said, "and it would be crazy if they ever took the college game out of there. You keep putting 8,000 people in the Civic and keep the tickets a premium, and you've got something going. With the sight lines, it's one of the great college hockey rinks in America. The fans are as boisterous and as enthusiastic as any I've seen." 

So said the renowned coach in the July 11, 2001 issue of the Omaha World-Herald to reporter Eric Olson. 

We had the chance to meet Brooks later that summer at the UNO Blue Line Club's Face-Off Golf Classic Banquet held at the Sapp Fieldhouse (an event Bridget helped organize).

The thing I remember most about the banquet was that Brooks wasn't afraid to tell it as he saw it -- pulling no punches in the process. A certain cynical edge was apparent as he talked about his disdain for "Dream Teams" (and the rise of professional athletes) in the Olympics.

The man was an interesting character...a character who helped build collegiate hockey into the terrific sport it is today. In fact, he referred to collegiate hockey as "the most 'exciting athletic event, pro or amateur.'"

I agree.

His prophetic comments back in 2001 regarding UNO's arena situation should be a reminder that bigger is not always better, and ignoring the obvious can cause problems down the road.

His comments hold true for me as it regards UNO's current arena situation, and all of the recent banter as to whether the facility is "big enough."

We should embrace the notion of "intimate" and realize that a packed house of "core fans" has the potential to create a truly special atmosphere and environment for the UNO Hockey program.

For the past seven years Bridget and I have had seats in sections that became the repository for large, "special occasion" groups. While I appreciated the efforts to grow the fanbase, I also found it to be incredibly irritating.

The reason being is that I love watching UNO Hockey games each season, and look at each of the 20-odd-something games as being a special part of my life -- shiny nuggets in a relatively ordinary existence.

Being surrounded by folks who often seem "ambivalent" about being there really hasn't done anything to further UNO's goals, or help create a rollicking atmosphere. It has basically been a tease.

As terrific as the environment was at the Civic, interest ebbs and flows. It's just the natural course of things.

Here is a picture of the boys celebrating a goal back in March 1, 2001, at the Civic against Findlay (a program that no longer exists) to close out the regular season:


Even though there were empty pockets that night (a Thursday), there still existed sparks of electricity in the arena. I think it is safe to say that a Thursday night stand against Findlay at the CenturyLink Center would have been a veritable "power outage."

The ~7,500-seat capacity will be terrific for this program. The simple fact is that a considerable amount of time has passed since the program's days of yore. I think we've all forgotten how exciting an intimate environment can be. 

And while Thomas Wolfe once wrote "You Can't Go Home Again" (and Jon Bon Jovi had a catchy duet with Jennifer Nettles playing on that phrase), UNO has the potential to experience something new -- an opportunity to move away from the cavernous sterility of the CenturyLink Center, and actually create a "home."

Wolfe wrote: "Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don't freeze up."

This isn't the moment to second guess the situation. Every season ticket holder has had the opportunity to claim his or her seats (and then some) in the UNO Community Arena. Excitement among our fans is percolating along after our Frozen Four experience. 

Let's not douse the momentum.

As Herb Brooks (played by Kurt Russell) says in the "Unleash the Fury" pump-up montage that plays before the third period, "Great moments are born from great opportunity..."

Let's enjoy this opportunity, and the great moments ahead. 








Monday, April 27, 2015

Little Fans Grow Up

By Bridget (Weide) Brooks

Last week, as part of my blog post about the "Salute to UNO Hockey" at the Storm Chasers game, I showed a picture of my three-year-old niece Emily with one of her (and EVERYONE's) favorite players, Jeff Hoggan.

Here's that picture again:

3-year-old Emily with Jeff Hoggan,
at a "Skate With the Mavs" event during the 1999-2000 season, I believe.
We still have that sweatshirt she's wearing. It was autographed by numerous players over the years.

Thanks to "good parenting" by her aunt and uncle (me and Jon), Emily (and her four younger sisters) have all grown up to become good UNO Maverick Hockey fans.

And that's the way it should be.

They start out when they're young, attending games, getting their favorite player's autograph in the lobby of the game after the Fite Song is sung ... and when they get old enough, they bid for a jersey in one of the silent auction fundraisers.

Okay, maybe not all of them do that, but Emily did ... spending her own hard-earned money (she's a lifeguard and pool manager at our neighborhood pool and works at Aksarben Cinema too) to buy the jersey of one of her favorite players, Johnnie Searfoss. Here's a couple of pictures of Emily and Johnnie.

The "Days Until Emily Birthday" countdown clock was from my "Big Day" app countdown, not hers.
I don't know what that says about me that the picture I have for her on my phone is her with HER favorite player!



One thing that worries me a bit with the move to our own campus arena (a smaller venue) is whether this will have an impact on growing our young fan base. Will having a smaller number of tickets available keep parents from bringing their kids to games, like we were able to do with Emily and her sisters as they were growing up?

Sure, we brought Emily to games at the sold-out Civic Auditorium (starting when she was 2 ... in fact, her first-ever game was the day her sister was born), but she was small enough to sit on my lap. By the time her sisters started coming to games, UNO had made the move to the Centurylink Center, where seats were plentiful, and $99 season ticket packages made it affordable to bring the whole gang.

Ticket prices have continued to go up, and their social lives and schedules have sometimes made it tough for them to attend games, but we had at least one of the five girls with us for every home game last season, I'm pretty sure.

Jon and I have purchased five season tickets for the 2015-16 season (up one from our 2014-15 allotment of four), with the idea that we'll be able to bring one or two of the nieces (or maybe even my other brother's two kids, who got to experience their first UNO Hockey game this past season). We're making a substantial investment in tickets so that we can ensure we're giving the opportunity to experience the next step for UNO Hockey to what will be the next generation of fans.

After all, little Maverick fans grow up to be big Maverick fans.

(And sometimes they even turn into UNO students. That won't be Emily -- although I tried! -- but maybe one or more of her sisters will choose UNO too.)

But if nothing else, they'll wear shirts that say "Omaha" on them from here on out, because once you're a Maverick hockey fan, you'll bleed crimson and black for the rest of your life.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

"Why'd They Put the Ginger in the Sun?"

By Bridget (Weide) Brooks

This is not going to be an epic blog. I may have given you the wrong impression when my first post was the definitive guide to seating at the new arena, and the most recent one was about the really epic #TacoCannon.

That wasn't my intention when I started this blog. When I gave the link to my first post in the "closed" Mavpuck.com Group on Facebook (yes, you can apply for membership; we share information in that group that we don't share publicly on our Twitter, Facebook page, or the Mavpuck message board forum), this is how I described it:

It's my hope to aggregate information, curate content from other sources (so it's easy to search/locate later on) and share memories from the first 18 years of UNO Hockey history. We want to tell the story of UNO hockey through blog posts, video, audio, pictures, memories, and more! I also want to do more of the "Where Are They Now" features of former players.

And this post really isn't about me (or Jon)... it's about what I saw on Thursday night at the Omaha Storm Chasers game (the "Salute to UNO Hockey") and how it ties into the early days of Maverick hockey.

Jon and I arrived a little later than we wanted to at Werner Park. I had actually left a meeting (with Sheila and Terry Leahy's family about their "Fundraiser for Sheila" efforts) early to try to get there before the game started, and I was under the impression that they were going to have Ryan Massa throw out the first pitch, and Dominic Zombo drop a "ceremonial puck" at home plate AFTER they did autographs. I was wrong.



Jon and I got into the stadium after Massa threw out the pitch -- pretty much right as Coach Blais dropped the puck (Zombo was recovering from surgery and couldn't make it).

Brad Williams, of Brad Williams Photography, captured that moment:

First Puck Drop - Omaha Storm Chasers VS Redbirds 2015-04-23
Posted by Brad Williams Photography on Thursday, April 23, 2015


I hustled over to try and get a picture from behind home plate ... and arrived just as the team was leaving the field.

Here was the Storm Chasers photo of the guys on the field:



Here were mine:



These are horrible pictures. I didn't even have a chance to zoom in. So you can't see the smiles on their faces as they left the field.

They sat down at a long table and started signing ... first baseballs, then schedule posters, but also t-shirts, hats, and hockey jerseys. The fans were smiling ... and so were the guys.



And I realized I recognized those smiles.

You see, in the early days of the program, before there were Frozen Four appearances (heck, before there were NCAA Regional appearances) … before there was even a conference affiliation … before the team even had a place to play, the early players were ambassadors to the community.

As one of those pioneering #OldBulls told me when I saw him (on the Road to the Frozen Four, these guys came out of the woodwork to celebrate the milestone of the program they had built with their sweat and tears), they sent the players out on a "goodwill" tour of sorts. They met with business people, sponsors, fans ... almost anyone who would agree to see them.

I remember those early days. There were "Hockey 101s" where various players demonstrated their equipment (goalies were a fan favorite) and Jon and I shared the "booster compliance guidelines" publicly. There were pre-season picnics, a fan get-together before the Maverick Stampede in the bowels of the Civic Auditorium, and pre-season Red/White Scrimmages that were open to donors first (and later the general public). There were "Skate with the Mavs" events held on a weekend afternoon, and everyone from little babies to grandparents were out on the ice with the guys.

As an aside:
Here's my niece Emily at age 3 with one of those Skate with the Mavs events with #OldBull and fan favorites, Jeff Hoggan. This would have probably been during the 1999-2000 season:

Emily Weide and Jeff Hoggan in 1999 or 2000.
Emily is now 18, and Hoggan is 38.

Throughout those events, I remember the smiles. The smiles on the faces of the players as they met their fans were genuine. I met Christian Graham the afternoon of the first-ever game. A client happened to be doing some consulting work for UNO Athletics on athlete nutrition, and we were assessing the need for table tents in the UNO "Training Table" -- basically, a private room in the Milo Bail Student Center where the athletes ate. My client introduced me to him, and while I don't remember what he said exactly, what still sticks with me 18 years later was how genuinely thrilled he was that the community was behind the team. (Remember, the announcement of the new team was made and season tickets sold out in just weeks, even though they had no place to play yet.)

Over all the years since, I have to say that I haven't really seen that smile again. I caught glimpses of it here and there. "Tuesday night." The magical trip to the Joe. The first Regional appearance, in Worchester (pronounced "Wooster," I learned while there). But I hadn't ever seen it again out in the "real world." When the players were wearing street gear, not their jerseys.

I saw it on Thursday night. The guys were wearing street gear -- logoed with "Frozen Four," of course.


But this wasn't just another obligatory post-game autograph session (those have largely disappeared too). This wasn't a First National Bank-sponsored Sunday afternoon event for kids to learn from their hockey heroes (forgive me, I can't remember what the name of this event is, and they didn't have one this past year).

In those events, the smiles are a little forced. Sure, every once in a while you get a genuine kid/player interaction where the smile is real. And sometimes, if you stick around long enough afterwards, you get to see goalie Dayn Belfor joyously skate to "Take Me Home Tonight" in epic ice dancing form (with a special appearance by NHL'er Andrej Sustr):



(It helps if they don't think that anyone is watching ... much less videotaping ...)

But on Thursday, these were real smiles.

Here's what Ryan Massa had to say in the Omaha World-Herald article about the event:


Even Coach Blais acknowledged that this public appearance wasn't a chore for the players:


Those smiles were genuine. The fans needed this chance to say "Thank you for an amazing season" one more time ... and these guys needed to hear it.

Even if that meant an April sunburn for the blondes/redheads. As my younger brother said as we watched the autograph session, "Why'd they put the ginger in the sun?"



Those gingers deserve their moment in the sun. I'm glad they got it.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Two Words: Taco Cannon

Who knew that #TacoCannon would be such a big thing?

I'm just minding my business yesterday and all of a sudden my Twitter feed explodes with news of the Voodoo Taco #TacoCannon.



It all started with this Tweet from @TacoVoodoo:
And it exploded (literally) from there.

At one point, #TacoCannon was the #1 trending topic on Twitter in Omaha:


It got coverage from @SBNation:
and @SInow (Sports Illustrated):


USA Today covered it:
http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/04/taco-cannon-university-of-nebraska-omaha-taco-cannon-hello-yes

The Omaha World-Herald food writer even weighed in:
http://www.omaha.com/go/omaha-now-has-a-cannon-that-shoots-tacos/article_3d9c56be-e93c-11e4-95bc-5b33ea5626dc.html

And this:
... and even "And Then There's Omaha" guy from @INCH weighed in:

And this (which made me laugh):

It also spawned at least one meme:
And KETV's Thor Tripp did a story on it:


We're six months (exactly!) from the opening of the new UNO arena. And it just keeps getting better and better!


Update (10:26 a.m. 4/23/15):
CNN is also covering this #breakingnews story, and even quoted us:
http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/23/living/feat-taco-cannon/index.html

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Salute to UNO Hockey Night at the Omaha Storm Chasers -- Thursday, April 23


The Omaha Storm Chasers are hosting their "SALUTE TO UNO HOCKEY NIGHT" tomorrow night -- Thursday, April 23.

The Mavs made it to the NCAA Frozen Four for the first time in program history, and this accomplishment will be recognized at the game. Fans can purchase tickets for just $5 each with the promo code "UNLEASHTHEFURY" online at www.omahastormchasers.com/tickets or by presenting a UNO student ID at the Werner Park Ticket Office.

UNO forward and co-captain Dominic Zombo and goaltender Ryan Massa will be on hand, with Zombo dropping a puck at the Werner Park home plate during an on-field recognition and Massa throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. The Storm Chasers will show highlights from the 2014-15 UNO men's hockey season throughout the game.

Player autographs will begin on the concourse promptly at 6:20 p.m. before the 6:35 p.m. game start, and will last for 20 minutes. Fans are encouraged to come early to increase their chance at autographs.

The game is also the first "Thirsty Thursday" of the season. Enjoy $2 Budweiser and Bud Light drafts as well as $1 Pepsi products all game long.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Seat Selection at the New UNO Community Arena

The selection process for seats in the new arena is well underway! The new UNO Community Arena, located in Aksarben Village, will host its first hockey game on October 23, 2015.

In 2010, UNO announced that it would use a "priority points" process to determine seat selection. Points would be awarded for consecutive season tickets (dating back to 1997) as well as donations to the One Fund.

Letters were sent out notifying individuals of their "priority" number, and people were given the opportunity to make corrections or improve their status by making additional donations.

UNO also sent out a brochure outlining the pricing options (click on the image to enlarge):








Pricing for UNO Hockey tickets for the 2015-16 season is:
Suites: $40,000 (corners) – $50,000 (center ice)
Club Seats: $1500 per season, per seat
Glass: $495 per seat
Lower Premier (basically, center ice in the lower bowl, goal line to goal line on the non-suite side): $495 per seat
Lower End Zone (lower bowl seats, shoot-once end): $455
Upper Premier (goal line to goal line in the upper bowl): $295 per seat
Upper End Zones (upper bowl seats, both ends of the ice): $265
UNO Students: Free

There are 17 suites available for purchase. Suites include 12 fixed seats, plus four additional "bar rail" seats and four standing room tickets. Suites also include four parking passes per suite in the private parking lot, plus access to the Club Lounge and Suite Concierge staff. Suite purchases include all arena events.

Club suites include tickets to all UNO athletics regular-season events (hockey, basketball, volleyball) and first right of refusal on all non-UNO Athletic events. It also includes access to a Club Lounge and premium parking (accounts with 1-4 tickets will receive one parking pass; 5-8 tickets will receive two passes, etc.). Club suite chairs are 22" seats and have the UNO logo on them.

Regular seats are 20" seats (non-logoed) and season ticket holders will have "exclusive pre-sale access to all non-UNO Athletic events."

Parking is free and is available on a first-come, first-served basis, with more than 2400 stalls available. Premier parking is available for Suite and Club Seat members.

The process was finalized in March and the higher level priority people were given the opportunity to select their seats "on paper" in mid-March because the software wasn't available yet.

In late March, the software was finalized and people were given the opportunity to select their seats using the iomedia software.

You can view the available seats here:
omavshockey.io-media.com

Current UNO season ticket holders finished selecting their seats in mid-April. Individuals who had called the UNO ticket office and asked to be put on the waiting list were given the opportunity to select next.

The general public is expected to be able to start selecting on or around April 24, 2015.

If you are interested in purchasing season tickets, call 402-554-MAVS.

You can read the Mavpuck.com threads about the new arena seat selection process here:
2015-16 Season Tickets
Purchased My Tickets Today


4/22/15 Update:
UNO Athletics has announced that season tickets for the 2015-16 hockey season will go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 27. At that time, tickets can be purchased online through OMavs.com/tix, in person at the Sapp Fieldhouse ticket office, or by calling 402-554-MAVS.