Thursday, October 31, 2019

Series Preview: Omaha at Alaska Anchorage, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2019

#HockeyHalloween! Following a bye week, the Mavericks made the long trek to Alaska on Tuesday to prepare for their unusual Thursday/Friday series versus Alaska Anchorage. Both games begin at 10:07 p.m. Omaha time.

The Mavs last played Ohio State University Oct. 18-19, splitting the series with the 12/13 OSU. The Mavs lost in a close Friday game 3-2 but won Saturday night’s game 2-1. Isaiah Saville had a stellar weekend, making 24 saves Friday and 37 saves Saturday. 

Omaha is 3-1-0 on the season so far, while Alaska Anchorage is 1-3-0. Last weekend, the Seawolves split a series with in-state rival Alaska. The Mavs have a long history with Alaska Anchorage — UNO is 8-2-1 all-time against the team. UNO swept Alaska Anchorage last December in a series in Omaha. The team is 3-1-1 in Anchorage.

Two Mavs will be returning to play in their home state: Saville is from Anchorage and freshman forward Josh Boyer is from Wasilla, Alaska.

There was no Weekly Media Availability posted again this week. 

> Thursday, 10:07 p.m. CT
> Friday, 10:07 p.m. CT

Both games will be broadcast live on 1180 AM (Zone 2). Donny Baarns will provide play-by-play and Terry Leahy will provide analysis. Pre-game coverage begins 30 minutes prior to face off. 

> Thursday and Friday's games are available on subscription ($). (Just be sure to cancel the subscription after the series to avoid ongoing charges.)

Live Audio and Stats:
Live Audio: Click here
Live Stats: Click here
Thursday TV($): Click here
Friday TV ($): Click here

Check out the third episode of the second season of the “MavPuckCast with Jason & Jon.” 

Because of the bye week, you can also enjoy an interview with a former Air Force hockey player who played in the opening series at Baxter Arena. (S2, Ep. 4)

Next up: The Mavs are back at home at Baxter vs. Wisconsin Nov. 8-9, 2019. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

UNO AD Alberts Talks Opportunities and Challenges at Omaha Press Club

University of Nebraska at Omaha Vice Chancellor for Athletic Leadership and Management and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Trev Alberts analyzed his first decade at the helm of the UNO Athletic Department — and talked about challenges and opportunities ahead — during his presentation at the Omaha Press Club’s Noon Forum on Thursday, Oct. 17.
Bridget and I were tasked with covering the event for the Omaha Press Club newsletter (Bridget is a past president, current board member, and chair of the marketing/membership committee). 
When you look back at the last 10 years of athletics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, you’ll see a decade of seismic changes impacting the image of the university as a whole. 
In that time, athletics underwent a reclassification from Division II to Division I. The university undertook a major rebranding effort, which involved new logos, emphasis on the “Omaha” part of the school’s moniker, and an evolution of the official color scheme. 
“We are the brand investment of the institution,” Alberts said of athletics. 
That investment is most evident in Baxter Arena — a $90 million facility built to showcase the university’s athletic programs. The arena opened in October 2015.
“Baxter Arena continues to be a game-changer for us,” said Alberts.
When Alberts was hired at UNO in 2009, he started working (without compensation) two months before his contract was officially set to start. 
He felt building the school’s brand was important in a community like Omaha with an established “level of excellence.” 
The pursuit of Baxter Arena and the move to D1 were developments predicated on high-profile institutions like Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and the CHI Health Center that set a high standard within the community. Alberts says you either join that level of excellence or you struggle with relevancy. 
Baxter Arena has become a gleaming front door for the University of Nebraska at Omaha. 
In addition to athletics, the facility hosts concerts and other community events. The money earned from these events has augmented revenue streams at the facility (which are subject to the vagaries of athletic success). 
“Ticket revenue is under a lot of pressure [nationally],” said Alberts. It doesn’t matter if you are a Power 5 football school or not, the challenges in 2019 impact nearly every collegiate athletic department, he added.
At the time of Alberts’s talk, Baxter Arena was set to host musician Nelly in concert — an event that would net the university $40,000 to $50,000 in revenue. 
According to Alberts, the university nets somewhere between $400,000 to $500,000 annually from events “not associated with athletics.” The size and structure of the facility was designed to complement the CHI Health Center downtown — and not compete with the larger acts that facility books annually. 
Competitive success continues to be the motivating goal for athletics (along with the student-athlete experience). Alberts had high praise for the university’s stable of coaches, and was pleased to see many of the school’s D2 coaches (like UNO Men’s Basketball Coach Derrin Hansen) embrace the move to D1.
Hockey is ultimately the engine that drives the train, he said.
“We are a hockey school,” said Alberts. He said the university generates slightly over $2 million annually in ticket revenue as a department — $1.9 million of that is hockey. 
The athletic department has different “tiers” for its athletic programs. Unlike Power 5 schools that are able to fully fund a full slate of sports, schools like UNO have to prioritize resources. 
The “Tier 1” sports are men’s hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, and women’s volleyball.  The “Tier 2” sports are men’s and women’s soccer, baseball, and softball. “Tier 3” sports are swimming, golf, and tennis.
Alberts said he is “really proud of Coach Gabinet, David Noel-Bernier, and Paul Jerrard.” He added he’s not sure of any college hockey coaching staff that is “grinding harder” or more invested in getting the UNO Hockey program to an elite level. 
The university takes considerable pride in its membership in the elite National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC). Alberts said the conference is operating with a $1.8 million surplus — and member schools receive a distribution from that revenue. 
Despite a string of high-profile successes, Alberts noted that the UNO Athletic Department still faces challenges.
For example, when Mike Kemp started the UNO Hockey program in 1996, the recruiting budget for hockey was $75,000. When Mike Gabinet took over as head coach in 2017, the budget for recruiting was still $75,000. 
Alberts said that donors put on an event to raise money for a “Hockey Excellence Fund” (via the NU Foundation) that raised $400,000 for recruiting expenses. Last year, an extra $40,000 was put toward the recruiting budget for hockey. 
(Coach Gabinet told us earlier this month at “Dinner With The Mavs” that Coach Noel-Bernier and Coach Jerrard have been criss-crossing the U.S. and Canada in search of the next generation of recruits — and eagle-eyed fans have noticed a number of prospects verbally committing from north of the border the past few months.)
Alberts also said the university is “profoundly grateful” for the accomplishments of Coach Dean Blais (one of the first hires Alberts made when he took the helm in 2009). He talked about the credibility and momentum Blais brought to the program. 
The biggest threat facing UNO Athletics is “complacency,” suggested Alberts. While things are going well for athletics (Baxter Arena and the athletic department have operated with surpluses the last four years), the university is planning for the future (and Albert said money is being put aside for improvements to Baxter Arena). 
Looking at accomplishments in the arena of competition, Alberts said UNO can’t merely be satisfied with appearing “in the championship game” of this or that tournament. 
“Creighton isn’t just happy to be in the Big East,” he said. “They expect to win it.” 
Alberts believes “unity of purpose” is important when it comes to having success in athletics. He says there isn’t a lot of drama within the athletic department. He believes unified leadership in all facets of the organizational chart is critical. 
When he started at UNO in 2009, 60 percent of the athletic budget was subsidized (while 40 percent was funded via revenue raised by the athletic department). Today, the script is flipped, with 60 percent of the budget being self-generated. 
The NCAA has also negotiated incentive programs alongside some of its TV deals that distributes revenue to schools based on “academic progress reports.” 
In that effort, the UNO Athletic Department has been working to improve graduation rates among student athletes. In 2011, the graduation success rate was 70 percent. This year, the graduation rate is 88 percent (11 percent higher than the rest of the student population at the university). 
That incentive has spurred schools like UNO to make sure academic support is in place for student-athletes. 
Alberts touched on UNO’s $22 million baseball/softball complex under construction (on the former Chili Greens property), and was pleased the university will once again host the U.S. Olympic Curling Trials at Baxter Arena.
He also discussed the place of UNO Athletics in the Omaha sports media landscape. Alberts says he’s not an “excuse guy” and that if UNO wants more coverage, they need to “go earn it.” 
To that point, he mentioned the athletic department had no problem getting coverage when the hockey team made the NCAA Frozen Four in 2015, or when the baseball team made the NCAA tournament earlier this year.
He said the development of the new Maverick Digital Network is designed to advance the university’s brand. 
Alberts shows no signs of slowing down or coasting on his greatest hits of the past decade. The former NFL linebacker and media commentator seems to have found his groove leading UNO Athletics. 
“Omaha is a really remarkable place,” he says. “It is an honor and privilege to be here.”

For all the latest news and updates, visit

Friday, October 18, 2019

Series Preview: Omaha at (The) Ohio State University, Oct. 18-19, 2019

After starting the hockey season with a home series at Baxter Arena (for the first time), the Mavericks travel to Columbus, Ohio to take on (The) Ohio State University. The Mavs are 2-0-0 to start the season, sweeping Alabama Huntsville. The Mavs beat the Chargers 6-1 on Friday behind Isaiah Saville and 5-0 on Saturday with Austin Roden posting the shutout. OSU is 1-0-1, winning the Icebreaker tournament. The Buckeyes tied Western Michigan 2-2 and won a shootout to play RIT in the championship game. OSU beat RIT by a score of 3-1.

Buckeyes head coach Steve Rohlik was one of Coach Mike Kemp’s original assistants when he started the program in 1996. Rohlik would have still been on the staff when Coach Mike Gabinet was recruited as a player, but Rohlik moved on to the University of Minnesota-Duluth the year Gabinet first laced up his skates as a Maverick in the 2000-2001 season.

UNO is 17-13-5 all time in games versus the Buckeyes, and the Mavs have won their last five games against OSU. However, OSU is currently ranked #12/13 nationally. Last year, the Buckeyes won the Big Ten regular season and advanced to the NCAA tournament, where they lost to Denver.

There was no Weekly Media Availability posted this week. We’re not sure if it will return this season. (We asked @OmahaVID on Twitter but didn’t receive a response.) Stay tuned.

Series preview articles:

> Friday, 6:00 p.m. CT
> Saturday, 4:00 p.m. CT

Both games will be broadcast live on 1180 AM (Zone 2). Donny Baarns will provide play-by-play and Terry Leahy will provide analysis. Pre-game coverage begins 30 minutes prior to face off. 

> Friday and Saturday's games are available on BTN+ ($). If you are planning on subscribing to watch the OSU series AND the Alaska Anchorage series at the end of the month, consider a subscription ($). (Just be sure to cancel the subscription after that series to avoid ongoing charges.)

Live Audio and Stats:
Live Audio: Click here
Live Stats: Click here

Check out the second episode of the second season of the “MavPuckCast with Jason & Jon.” 

Next up: The Mavs have a bye week before traveling to Alaska Anchorage.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Series Preview: Alabama Huntsville vs. Omaha, Oct. 11-12, 2019

By Connor Willingham

This weekend, Alabama Huntsville comes to town to face the Mavericks for UNO’s regular season debut. This is the first time in Baxter Arena history that the Mavs have opened the season at home.

The Chargers have already been in action this year, dropping their opening series against UMass Lowell 1-5 and 1-3. This is the first time the Chargers and Mavericks have faced-off since 2014-15.

Because of the exhibition game on Monday, there was no Weekly Media Availability.

Series preview articles:

> Friday, 7:07 p.m. CT
> Saturday, 7:07 p.m. CT

Both games will be broadcast live on 1180 AM (Zone 2). Donny Baarns will provide play-by-play and Terry Leahy will provide analysis and Lester St. James will report rinkside. Pre-game coverage begins 30 minutes prior to face off. 

You can also hear game coverage on 90.7 FM HD2 or (student broadcast) or on the TuneIn Radio app (Learfield broadcast and student broadcast are both available).

> Friday and Saturday's games will be streamed on ($)

Saturday night’s game will feature “enhanced coverage” by the new Maverick Digital Network (for viewers only).

Live Audio and Stats:
Live Audio: Click here
Live Stats: Click here

Also be sure to check out the first episode of the second season of the “MavPuckCast with Jason & Jon.” This episode features a season in preview.

Next up: The UNO Hockey team goes on the road to take on a Big Ten team, Ohio State, on Friday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 19. Friday night’s game starts at 6 p.m. Central time and Saturday's game starts at 4 p.m. Central time.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Game Preview: Manitoba Exhibition — Monday, Oct. 7, 2019

By Connor Willingham

Howdy folks! Omaha Hockey's season is finally here! This GAME WEEK features one exhibition game and our first regular-season series this weekend, all at Baxter Arena.


The first game is an exhibition against the University of Manitoba Bison. Last year, UNO made quick work of Manitoba and won 6-1. This game will offer a nice tune-up for Mike Gabinet's team heading in to the regular season.

Tickets are only $10 for upper bowl end zone seats! Game starts at 7:07 PM. The game will be streamed online at NCHC.TV and on the radio at 1180 AM (Learfield broadcast), 90.7 FM HD2 or (student broadcast), or on the TuneIn Radio app (both).


The Mavs take on the Alabama Huntsville Chargers as the regular season begins at Baxter Arena on Friday, Oct. 11 and Saturday, Oct. 12.