Friday, October 19, 2018

Series Preview: Omaha vs. Notre Dame, Oct. 19-20 at Baxter Arena

The Mavs started the season last weekend with a tie and a loss to Union College. This weekend isn't going to be an easy one, with #2/#3-ranked Notre Dame coming to town. Notre Dame is 1-0-1 on the season after winning the Icebreaker tournament last weekend. Notre Dame tied Mercyhurst (winning in a shootout) and beat Providence College to win the tournament championship.

It will be interesting to see if freshman forward Tyler Weiss returns to the lineup. He did not travel to Schenectady, New York last weekend due to an upper body injury. (Weiss is also part of The NCHC's Snapchat Takeover weekend crew, which leads me to think he won't be playing.)

Add The NCHC on Snapchat:

Also check out this tweet from the @OmahaHKY account:

You can read the notes from this week's news conference here.

There is a tailgate before Saturday night's game. There will be food available for purchase.

Series preview articles: article:

Omaha World-Herald series preview:

And this is interesting. ABC57 has a story about the Irish season, but NO mention of this weekend's series at all:

Notre Dame hockey preview article:

Friday, 6:38 p.m. Central (NOTE: EARLY GAME TIME DUE TO TV)
Saturday, 7:07 p.m. Central

Radio/TV Coverage:
Both games will be broadcast live on 1180 AM (The Zone 2). Dave Ahlers will provide play-by-play and Terry Leahy will give color commentary. Coverage begins at 6:18 p.m. on Friday night and 6:37 p.m. Saturday night with the First National Bank Pre-Game Show.

Friday night's game is on CBS Sports Network (and NOT on as a result. CBS Sports Network has exclusive access to games they carry).

Saturday night's game will be on ($) and NET Nebraska, channel 12/26 and streaming online for free here.

Live Audio and Stats:
Live stats link here.
Live audio link here.

Also be sure to check out the third episode of the MavPuckCast with Jason & Jon, recorded after Saturday night's loss to Union.

Next Weekend:
The Mavs will travel to Arizona to take on second-year program Arizona State hockey for the first series of four games against the Sun Devils this season. Both games are listed for a 9:05 p.m. Central time start.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

UNO Hockey Press Conference Notes - Oct. 16, 2018

Coach Mike Gabinet, junior forward Zach Jordan, and senior forward Fredrick Olofsson answered media questions as part of “Omaha Athletics Weekly Media Availability” on Oct. 9, 2018. 

Gabinet fielded questions regarding UNO Hockey's Oct. 12 & 13 series at Union College, and the upcoming series on Oct. 19 & 20 vs. Notre Dame at Baxter Arena. 


Gabinet: “I think that’s what a lot of the games are going to look like this year. In my opinion, I think we’re going to be in a lot of close games. I think we knew that going into the season that it is gonna be really tight fought games, week in and week out for our club. I think the biggest takeaway is that we need to be a little bit smarter. I think we need to play a certain style of game where we’re giving ourselves a chance at success."

Gabinet: “I thought we were really good for four of the six periods. Both second periods weren’t our best hockey and they made us pay for it during those times.”

Gabinet: “We’ve got to make sure we buy in as a team to be smart. There are certain things we’re going to have to do as a team to be successful.”

Gabinet: “We can’t just show up and play any way we want to play and hope it’s gonna work out for us.”


Gabinet: “We had some power play success early on and our penalty kill was really good on Friday night, then it struggled a little bit on Saturday night — but when you break it down, it wasn’t a structural breakdown, just some individual plays that weren’t the best plays at the time.”

Gabinet: “I don’t get too excited about the power play or too worried about the penalty kill, because that stuff has a tendency to even itself out over the long haul.”


Gabinet: “There’s a few guys that I think have some potential, like Kevin Conley being a sophomore transfer. It’s nice, he’s got a little bit of that game experience at the college level already. So I think he’s a guy we’re going to keep relying on to contribute.”

Gabinet: “We had an all-freshman fourth line there, and I thought they did some good things, but did some things they’ve got to get better at as well.”


Gabinet: “It’s just like a big-time football opponent coming into your building. Everybody gets excited, and its a special time.”


Gabinet: “I don’t like to talk about another team too positively. With our guys, we’ve got to keep them focused on what we’re doing well. I think sometimes coaches can make a mistake about speaking too highly of their competition."

Gabinet: “First off, their personnel. They’ve got a lot of highly talented players on their team. They play an extremely sound defensive game. They’re a very structured team. Not a lot of improvising out there. [Jeff Jackson] plays a very structured team — where they’re very robotic in the way they play out there. They don’t give up a lot.”

Gabinet: “Once they step in their d-zone structure, there’s not a lot available. Very good in their forecheck. Extremely well coached.” 


Jordan: “We really would have loved a win Friday night. And then Saturday night, we just came out and I thought it was a little bit of a special teams game...we obviously lost the battle.”

Olofsson: “I’d say I’m a little disappointed with the weekend, but a lot of stuff we’re going to work on this week.” 

Jordan: “I think it’s just going to keep getting better from here on out.” 


Jordan: “The main thing I took to build on was our second periods...both nights our second periods weren’t the best. Especially Friday night, probably cost us the win.”

Olofsson: “Playing 60 minutes is so crucial. We were even talking about how one faceoff or one little play can be the difference in these games. The margins are so small.”


Jordan: “We’re all really excited for them to be coming to us. It’s a big-time opponent to be playing. Last year, we split with them. They ended up making it to the Frozen Four, and we didn’t. But it goes to show we’re right there...”

2019 UNO Hockey Media Guide

Want to know more about the 2018-19 UNO Mavericks Hockey team?

Check out this year's media guide:

Coaches and Staff
The Mavericks
2017-18 Year in Review
History and Records

Monday, October 15, 2018

Wrapping Up the Weekend: Union Series (Oct. 12-13, 2018)

The Mavs had a disappointing weekend in Schenectady, New York, tying Union College 3-3 on Friday, and losing 5-4 on Saturday.

One thing we noticed this past weekend is that the rumor that the Omaha World-Herald is cutting back on their away game coverage for UNO Hockey is true. The newspaper published recaps from "staff reports" instead of sending a reporter to live tweet and cover the games. (So if you're looking for UNO Hockey coverage, follow @Mavpuck on Twitter).

The media recaps are linked below.

The Mavs are now 0-1-1 after the first weekend of play. The team takes on #2/#3 Notre Dame this weekend at Baxter Arena.

Note: Friday's game has an earlier start time – 6:38 p.m. Central – to accomodate CBS Sports Network's coverage of the game. (Note: This game is NOT available on because CBS Sports Network has exclusive access to the games they air.)

Jason and Jon analyze the Union series and preview Notre dame in the third episode of the MavPuckCast here:

Poll Results:

The Mavs were not featured in last week's USCHO weekly poll (they "received votes" but were not in the top 20). This week, they didn't even receive votes.

For the second week, the Mavs didn't even receive votes in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine weekly poll:

Media Roundup:
Here's the Omavs story about Friday night's tie:

The Omaha World-Herald story from Friday:

Here's the Omavs story from Saturday night:

Here's the "staff reports" article in the Omaha World-Herald about Saturday night's loss:

Friday, October 12, 2018

MavPuckCast with Jason & Jon: Season One

Jason & Jon talk UNO Maverick Hockey. Listen to the podcast episodes on YouTube. Season one episodes are linked below.

Episode 1 — Sept. 29, 2018:

In the inaugural edition of the Mavpuckcast, Jason and Jon discuss their expectations for the upcoming season and some recent rule changes in NCAA Men's Hockey.

Episode 2 — Oct. 8, 2018:

In episode 2 of the Mavpuckcast,Jason and Jon discuss Nebraska-Omaha's exhibition game against Manitoba as well as the commitment of two new players and what each expects from the upcoming season.

Episode 3 – Oct. 15, 2018:

In this episode of the Mavpuckcast Jason and Jon discuss the Mavericks performance at Union, some new additions to the team and the upcoming series against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Series Preview: UNO Hockey at Union -- Oct. 12-13, 2018

UNO Hockey prevailed in its exhibition against the University of Manitoba on Sunday, winning 6-1. Next up is a regular season series against a non-conference foe, Union College.

The Mavericks will face the Dutchmen at the Frank L. Messa Rink at Achilles Center in Schenectady, New York on Friday, Oct. 12 and Saturday, Oct. 13. Both games begin at 6 p.m. Central.

Union beat Army 4-1 last Saturday at home. They have been picked to finish fourth in the ECAC this season.

You can read the notes from this week's news conference here.

We haven't heard officially, but we believe freshman phenom Tyler Weiss may be out of this weekend's series with an upper body injury. Weiss' goal in the exhibition was the NCHC's #2 Play of the Week:

Series preview articles: article:

Omaha World-Herald series preview:

The Daily Gazette (Schenectady newspaper):

Friday, 6 p.m. Central
Saturday, 6 p.m. Central

Radio/TV Coverage:
Both games will be broadcast live on 1180 AM (The Zone 2). Dave Ahlers will provide play-by-play and Terry Leahy will give color commentary. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. on Friday night and 5:30 p.m. Saturday night with the First National Bank Pre-Game Show.

Both games will be available on ESPN+ ($$); a free 7-day trial is available for those who do not subscribe to the service. (NOTE: The games will NOT be airing on ESPN cable channels; ESPN+ is a streaming service like

Live Audio and Stats:
Live audio link here.

Live stats link here.

Also be sure to check out the second episode of the MavPuckCast with Jason & Jon, recorded after Sunday night's exhibition win.

Next Weekend:
The Mavs take on national champion runner-up Notre Dame in a non-conference series next weekend at Baxter Arena. Friday's game against Notre Dame, which begins at 6:38 p.m. Central, can be seen on CBS Sports Network. Saturday's game begins at 7:07 p.m. and can be seen on NET (and on their streaming platform). We'll provide a link to that in next week's series preview. 
There will be a tailgate in Baxter Arena's Lot 27 before the Saturday night game. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

UNO Hockey Press Conference Notes - Oct. 9, 2018

Coach Gabinet, senior forward Steven Spinner, and senior defenseman Dean Stewart answered media questions as part of the “Omaha Athletics Weekly Media Availability” on Oct. 9, 2018. 

Gabinet fielded questions regarding the Oct. 7 exhibition at Baxter Arena agains Manitoba, and the upcoming series on Oct. 12 & 13 at Union College: 


Gabinet: “Looking forward to getting on the road to Union. I’m always a fan of road trips early in the season where we have a chance to bond — not only as a team but as a staff.”


Gabinet: “Make sure we’re improving quicker than other teams. And sometimes that’s some honest feedback and some quick assessment and everybody’s got to be ready to go and take that feedback in a positive way.”


Gabinet: “Everybody will travel, especially for non-conference. Especially early in the season. I think it’s important... all the healthy guys will travel.”

Gabinet: “We have so many players that are very similar, and even watching the game in detail, it’s hard to differentiate different things. If I’m a player right now, I’m dialed in on my compete level.”

Gabinet: “As far as today, there are still jobs to be won.” 


Gabinet on Union: “It was nice to see Union get so many votes in the poll... we already knew they were a strong team and they’ve historically been a good program here the last number of years. It’s a tough building to play in.” 

Gabinet: “[Noel-Bernier] says you usually don’t leave there without a few ice bags on your body.” 

Gabinet: “They are hard to play against.”


Gabinet: “I sometimes don’t think these guys realize how important practice is.” 

(He added that he wants players to keep investing in themselves — the coaches take note of those things on a day-to-day basis. Some guys might play Friday... others Saturday. Some rotation will happen in the lineup early in the season to get guys experience.)


Gabinet: “In my young coaching career, I think one of the best things is to not overanalyze things and let things come to you a little bit, too. Just like today, we’re going to watch who practices well and who is ready to go and evaluate yesterday’s practice. Then, the same thing on the weekend. We’ll see how Friday night goes.”


Stewart: “I think having Paul [Jerrard] here has been really good so far, implementing some systems and things like that.”


Spinner: “Forwards are totally different. You look at any level... NHL, anything. You can get changed up in the middle of the game. You’ve got to be ready to play with whoever... I’ve been playing with Teemu [Pulkinnen] and Mas (Mason Morelli) for a long time. Played with Freddy [Olofsson] a ton. It doesn’t really matter, but my line looks good. Teemu had three goals so it was obviously a good night.”

Spinner: “Through the four years I’ve been here, we’ve never had a problem offensively.”

Friday, October 5, 2018

Review: NCHC.TV's "The Season '18" - Episode 1: "New Beginnings"

Something I yearn for is more coverage of the inner workings of the UNO Hockey program — or any collegiate hockey program, for that matter. 

Sure, I’ve attended all the home games, made a number of trips to see the Mavs on the road, and filled in the gaps watching the team on TV and online. 

Watching the games — however you may do it — is merely one gear in the clockwork that makes a sports program tick. 

Because collegiate hockey is a fairly niche sport in the United States, there is scant coverage available that delves into the nitty gritty as it regards training, recruiting, and the administration of the programs we loyally follow each season. 

As a result, I’m always pleased to have the opportunity to watch any available “behind-the-scenes” content. I’ve mentioned before what a big fan I am of the online series “The Penn State Hockey Story” (produced by that school’s athletic department). Even though I have no connection to that program, I feel like I have a better understanding of that program. 

I am pleased that NCHC.TV and STX are presenting a new offering this year called “The Season ‘18” — a 6-chapter web series that goes inside the Miami RedHawk Hockey program. 

The first episode is titled “New Beginnings.” As the opening frames roll, we see Coach Enrico Blasi driving to work on Aug. 28. He mentions that he is starting his 20th season at the helm of the Miami program. 

Bridget and I met Coach Blasi in 1999 at the Badger Showdown in Milwaukee. 

We were standing in the elevator of our hotel with a guy wearing a RedHawk jacket, who looked to be our age (I was 27 at the time). He noticed our UNO gear, struck up a conversation with us, and asked if we also followed the Omaha Lancers organization. 

Never in a million years would I have assumed we were talking to the coach of one of our CCHA foes — young, short in stature, he looked more like a player than the head honcho.

A couple days later — on the morning after the tournament ended — we were eating breakfast at the Holiday Inn. Coach Blasi and his assistants were at an adjacent table. 

As they went to leave, Coach Blasi tapped Bridget on the shoulder and said, “See you guys in Omaha.” 

Sometimes fans get all wrapped up in the on-ice battles during the grind of the conference season. Be that as it may, I try to remind myself that these are programs like UNO, with good fans and good people working to present a top-notch product on the ice.

The first episode of “The Season ‘18” shows the coaches and players working to get ready for the coming season at Miami’s Goggin Ice Center. (We were treated to a “behind-the-scenes” tour when we visited Oxford, OH, with a group of UNO fans in 2006.)

During the course of the debut episode, we learn a bit about “The Brotherhood,” hear the team talk about some of the program’s recent disappointments, and watch the team as it participates in offseason training. 

Listening to Coach Blasi talk, you get the sense he has some of the same philosophical underpinnings guiding UNO Coach Mike Gabinet. 

“My expectation is that every day we come to the rink, every day we do anything — off the ice, on the ice, in the classroom — we do it to the best of our ability and we push ourselves to be better, and we hold ourselves accountable,” says Blasi. 

Fans new to the world of college hockey might not realize Blasi took the RedHawks to eight straight NCAA tournaments, two Frozen Fours, and one national championship game (losing in OT to Boston University in 2009) in the years leading up to the formation of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. 

Outside of the 2014-15 season (when the team made the NCAA tournament), the Miami program hasn’t been above .500 since they began play in the NCHC. 

It illustrates that premier programs — despite a history of success — can fall on hard times. Puck fans always hope it won’t happen to their team, but the “hockey gods” are fickle beings. 

I also know UNO fans feel chapped about former UNO assistant Peter Mannino leaving the program last spring — taking UNO recruits with him. 

The first episode has Blasi talking about the new assistant, and shows Mannino working with the Miami goaltenders. 

While “The Season ‘18” might not dive into all the pieces churning in the Miami program, it is nice to have this behind-the-scenes look at one of our conference foes. It’s also nice to have the opportunity to understand the teams we play a little bit better — and not just judge a program on stats and on-ice exploits. 

To learn more about "The Season ‘18", visit the website. 

The first episode of “The Season ‘18” runs 13 minutes and can be viewed below:

Game Preview: UNO vs. Manitoba 10/7/18

"There is no offseason, only preseason."

Well, Maverick Hockey fans, the preseason ends Sunday when UNO takes on the University of Manitoba in an exhibition at 5:07 p.m. at Baxter Arena.

New this year at Baxter Arena is the clear bag policy, so ladies, don't forget to take stuff out of your purse and transfer it over to your clear bag. (That's going to be fun to do twice each weekend. This is obviously a policy created by men, for men.) Anyway, I digress.

This is Coach Gabinet's second season as head coach and as Jon's blog post about recruiting talks about, he's starting to get some of his guys in place. But there are still a metric ton of Blais-recruited players, including 10 seniors, so this will be an interesting year. The Mavs were picked to finish seventh in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Preseason Poll.

I didn't realize that Manitoba had been out of the exhibition rotation since the 2008-09 season. As a result, this is the Bison's first trip to Baxter Arena. We're 11-2-0 all time against Manitoba.

But Manitoba has played two regular season games already (going 1-1-0), plus four exhibition games in the United Kingdom and three exhibition games against the University of Regina. Manitoba was 3-4-0 in the seven exhibition games. The Bison will play the University of North Dakota on Saturday. article about the exhibition: weekly news release:

The MavPuckCast podcast with Jason & Jon (preseason preview):

Sunday, 5:07 p.m. Central

Radio/TV Coverage:
The exhibition game will be broadcast live on 1180 The Zone 2. Dave Ahlers will provide play-by-play and Terry Leahy is back with color commentary. Lester St. James is the rinkside reporter. Coverage beghins at 4:37 p.m. with the First National Bank Pre-Game Show.

The game will also be available on ($)

Live audio and stats:
Live audio link here.

Live stats link here.

Next Weekend:
UNO begins NCAA play with a non-conference series at Union College on Friday, Oct. 12 and Saturday, Oct. 13. Both games start at 6 p.m. Central.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Where Will Gabinet & Co. Focus Recruiting in the Future?

Collegiate hockey programs mine talent from a variety of places. 

You’ll see players from U.S. and Canadian junior leagues, guys from target-rich high schools in hockey hotbeds, and players plucked from Europe. 

The mix and concentration ultimately depends on the particular program. 

Let me give you some examples.

In the 1999-00 season, UNO’s roster was comprised of 12 players from the United States, 14 players from Canada, and 1 player from Sweden. 

In the 2014-15 season, UNO’s roster featured 19 players from the United States and 7 players from Canada. 

You’ll have a heavy concentration of recruits coming out of junior leagues like the USHL, NAHL, BCHL, AJHL, OPJHL, and the SJHL. You’ll also see players direct from high schools like Shattuck St. Mary’s and Hill-Murray in Minnesota. 

When Mike Gabinet became UNO Hockey’s third head coach in 2017, fans were curious to see the direction recruiting might take during his tenure. 

First off, Gabinet hasn’t been at the helm long enough to get a definitive picture of what his prototype is for a competitive hockey team. A couple of the recruits slated to join the Mavs jumped ship when UNO assistant Peter Mannino left for Miami (OH) this past spring. 

Thus far, if you look at UNO’s targets listed on recruiting websites, you’ll see a fairly familiar mix of player types — recruits who are the property of junior clubs, and high school hockey players from around the United States. 

For better or worse, these recruits aren’t a “sure thing” until they sign National Letters of Intent (NLIs). 

When you consider that college hockey programs are already getting commitments for 2021 and 2022, the entire enterprise takes on even more doubt. There is a lot of time for those recruits to change their mind. 

NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton addressed future NCAA legislation regarding hockey recruiting practices in his “state of the conference” address last week — in particular, how NLIs should be handled with delayed enrollment (since many hockey players participate in junior hockey prior to joining a collegiate program).

Fenton believes (and many coaches agree) that the process needs to be tweaked by the NCAA. 

The UNO Hockey program is in a constant “tug of war” with programs in geographic areas with rich recruiting bases. 

The UNO program had success in its early years with rosters heavy on talent from the junior leagues in Canada. 

Former players like Jeff Hoggan, Kendall Sidoruk, David Brisson, Dave Noel-Bernier, and Allan Carr are among my favorite former Mavericks. All hail from Canada, and all currently reside in Omaha. 

It is interesting to note that Gabinet and his two assistants — Dave Noel-Bernier and Paul Jerrard — are natives of Canada.

While each has coached with various clubs around North America, you wonder if they’ll put together a pipeline from the Canadian junior ranks — targeting more players north of the border. 

That strategy would offer certain advantages for the program. Geographic loyalties are less a factor when a program recruits players out of Canada — something that is beneficial for a program like Omaha. 

(That said, I do recall losing a particular Canadian recruit because the competing school’s locale was a direct flight for the athlete’s parents). 

Years ago, when Jeff Hoggan (who was from Hope, British Columbia) was playing for Omaha, I asked if there were any teams he was excited to play. 

He said, “I don’t know half of them... I just want to beat them all.” 

Hoggan has become a friend in the intervening years. It’s fantastic that he has planted roots in Omaha — something common among his Canadian compatriots from those early years.

Coach Gabinet is one of the Canadian players who landed in Omaha during the program’s early years. It’s good to have a former player at the helm. 

As he tries to write a recipe for success at UNO, you have to wonder if his plan involves recruiting more players out of the Canadian ranks. 

Within the last few days, defenseman Brandon Scanlin from the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) committed to UNO. (He looks to be a terrific “offensive defenseman” in the Alberta league.)

At the UNO ticket pickup event at Baxter Arena last week, we had the opportunity to meet a forward named Zach Goberis — a new recruit from Arvada, Colo., who played two games in the WHL (major junior hockey in Canada, which is something akin to minor league hockey). UNO is appealing to the NCAA to reinstate his eligibility (according to sources, he’ll sit out this season and two games next season). 

This isn’t the first time UNO has had “major junior” players on the roster. Forward Allan Carr and goalie Kendall Sidoruk both played “major junior” hockey in Canada, regained NCAA eligibility, and became key cogs in UNO’s run to the CCHA Championship game in 2000. 

Goberis was very successful in the 2017-18 campaign with the Estevan Bruins of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) — amassing 34 goals and 44 assists last season. 

It’s important to keep making inroads into the talent-rich Minnesota high school hockey ranks. Some have argued that UNO can’t be successful in a conference like the NCHC without top talent from the Minnesota high school hockey pool. 

If you look at UNO during the Dean Blais era, Minnesota standouts became the “marquee players” for the team, played key roles on special teams, and led the program to its first Frozen Four in 2015. 

When you look at the UNO roster this season, you don’t see as many high-round draft picks as you did in recent years. Gabinet’s success the next few seasons will be on the shoulders of “lunch pail” players who buy into his philosophy. 

In order to compete in the NCHC, UNO will need production from all four lines.

At today’s pre-season media day at Baxter Arena, UNO senior Ryan Galt said, “We don’t have the superstars. We don’t have the one-timer from Pope on the power play, but coach has done a good job of reiterating that we have a different mentality this year, and we’ll utilize that.” 

It sounds like “role players” will be the name of the game the next couple of seasons for the Mavericks. 

Time will tell what direction Mike Gabinet takes the program as it regards recruiting. 

But it’s possible key role players in the future will be plucked out of those Canadian junior ranks — potentially giving the team a different flavor in the future.