Saturday, December 21, 2019

Series Preview: Omaha vs. Arizona State, Dec. 21-22, 2019

Home ice has been more “naughty” than “nice” to the Mavs over the past few weeks (the team is 3-4-1 at Baxter Arena this season), but the team and fans are hoping Santa won’t be leaving coal in their stockings heading into the holiday break as the Mavs play a rare Saturday night/Sunday afternoon series.

There’s reason to be optimistic: UNO finally broke through with a win against St. Cloud last weekend, earning a split against SCSU. The Mavs lost 4-1 on Friday night before eeking out a hard-fought 4-3 overtime victory on Saturday — the first Mav win against the Huskies in 11 tries.

UNO is 7-7-2 overall and 2-5-1-0 in the NCHC — currently in a tie for seventh place with Colorado College.

#14/16 Arizona State is also coming off a split last weekend with Michigan State. The Sun Devils beat the Spartans 4-3 Friday and lost 1-0 in OT on Saturday. The Sun Devils are 9-5-2 this season, including 6-2-2 in the last 10 games.

Omaha is 5-2-1 all-time against Arizona State, including 5-0-1 at Baxter Arena. Last year, the Mavs beat the Sun Devils 6-4 and 4-0 at Baxter Arena. But ASU is solid in regulation play — the Sun Devils have not trailed in regulation since a game vs. Alaska on Nov. 8.

Freshman goaltender Isaiah Saville will be absent for the Mavs this weekend as he is currently at camp with prospects for the Team USA U-20 team for World Juniors. Fans can expect to see freshman Austin Roden in net for the Mavs for one or both games this weekend. 

Fun fact: Expected ASU goaltender Evan DeBrouwer split time in net with Roden when they both played for the Nanaimo Clippers during the 2016-17 season.

Series preview articles:

Arizona State hockey:
> Saturday, 7:07 p.m. CT
> Sunday, 4:07 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. 

> Saturday and Sunday’s games will be streamed on ($)

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

Also check out episode 10 of the second season of the “MavPuckCast with Jason & Jon.” This episode features Jon and Jason talking about the series with St. Cloud and their predictions about Mavericks vs. the Sun Devils.

Next up: 
The Mavs are off briefly before traveling to Maine on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 3-4, 2020. Friday's game start at 5:07 p.m. CT and will be played at Alfond Arena in Orono, Maine. Saturday's game begins at 11 a.m. CT and will be played at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Series Preview: Omaha at St. Cloud, Dec. 13-14, 2019

Home ice was not kind to the UNO Mavericks as the Mavs tied one game and lost three others during a two-week homestand. 

The Mavs were swept by two-time defending national champions Minnesota Duluth and are now at the bottom of the NCHC conference standings, with 4 points.

However, this weekend’s opponent, St. Cloud State, is just ahead of them in the standings (in a tie for 6th place with Denver), so this weekend is a huge opportunity to capture conference points as well as move up in the standings.

While we’ve made the trip to St. Cloud the past few seasons, family obligations keep us in town this weekend. We’ll be tuning in on and live tweeting the action on our Twitter account (@Mavpuck).

The Mavs are currently 6-6-2 overall (1-4-1-0 in the NCHC). The Huskies are 4-6-4 overall and 2-4-0-0 in the NCHC. The Huskies swept Miami last weekend in Oxford.

UNO hasn’t had much luck in recent years against St. Cloud. In the 2018-19 season, the Mavs went 0-4-0 against the Huskies. They are 10-24-2 all-time, including 4-15-1 at the Herb Brooks arena at SCSU. (We’ve seen a bunch of those losses in person, TBH, including losses of 2-0 and 7-1 in “the Cloud.”)

This is likely the last series of the 2019 calendar year to see Isaiah Saville in net, as he has been selected to the U.S. National Team preliminary roster for World Juniors. (If he makes the final 24-man roster, he’ll be the first Mav on the team since Josh Archibald in 2012, according to the UNO news release.) 

Saville will head to Plymouth, Michigan, for the USA Hockey camp after this weekend’s series.

> Friday, 7:37 p.m. CT
> Saturday, 6:07 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. 

> Friday and Saturday’s games are available on ($). 

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

Friday TV($): Click here.
Saturday TV ($): Click here.

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

Next up: The Mavs are back at home for a non-conference series against Arizona State (an odd Saturday/Sunday tilt) — the last series of 2019 on Dec. 21-22, 2019. Saturday’s game against the Sun Devils is at 7:07 p.m.; Sunday’s game is at 4:07 p.m.

Terry Leahy: The Voice of the Mavs (23 Years of Passion, Joy, and Heartbreak for the Man Behind the Mic)

An excerpted version of this story ran in The Gateway on Dec. 5, 2019. The full version of the article is reprinted here, with the permission of the author.

By Jordan McAlpine

From the opening faceoff in October of 1997, to an NCAA tournament berth in 2006, the 2015 Frozen Four, and every moment in between, one thing has remained constant over the years for UNO Mavericks hockey, and that’s the voice of Terry Leahy.

“Terry’s voice is as synonymous with UNO Hockey as the logo of the bull,” said ten-year play-by-play voice of the Mavericks Dave Ahlers.

Three home arenas. Three conferences. Three head coaches. Zanon, Parse, Ellis, Archibald, Guentzel, the names keep going. A special Tuesday night in March of 2000, Alex Nikiforuk’s winning goal against Michigan, a banner raising to open Baxter Arena, you name it, Leahy has seen it all unfold since the inception of this program.

An Omaha native, Leahy graduated from Creighton Preparatory high school as part of the class of 1977, and like most boys growing up, he too took a liking to sports at a young age. However, it didn’t take long for hockey to catch on, and Leahy was hooked right away.

“As a kid, I was into all sports. I wasn’t a very good athlete, but I played youth hockey in Omaha in the late 1960s, up until high school in the mid 1970s, but I was just a terrible player,” said Leahy.

“Growing up not far from here the Ak-sar-ben coliseum, where the Knights played, I was certainly into hockey. In the late 1960s, my dad took me to a game when I was about ten years old and saw the Omaha Knights play in the old Central Professional Hockey League. The red pants, those Ranger style uniforms, and I’ll never forget hearing the sounds of that rink for the first time, Leahy said. “When they started that game and dropped that puck for the first time, it was amazing to see that thing move around the ice, and that’s how it all started for me.”

“I think it’s a tradition, and that’s the way it started for generations of kids in Omaha. That’s why there’s a base of fans here that we see coming here to Baxter Arena, and it’s right across the street from where it all began. Where that original arena once was and where this game was first introduced to this great hockey community, there’s a base going back to the first pro team in 1939-1940, which is what’s really set the base for the success of hockey in Omaha.”

From there, the wheels started to turn and an interest for the news business, and eventually the broadcast booth started to grow, with a self-proclaimed “face made for radio”. At the time, Leahy was a college student majoring in journalism/mass communications, and political science, but was still waiting for a chance. Soon thereafter, his opportunities would start to come.

“I started doing some cable television here in Omaha, and I started working at the College World Series a lot for the NCAA in the mid-1980s, which really exploded things for me. I started meeting these guys, some legendary college announcers, and suddenly I got started with KFAB and that’s where I’ve been ever since,” Leahy said.

“That led to a gig for a while as a sideline reporter for Nebraska Football, which was cool, and then those rights went away, which opened the door for this program (UNO Hockey). It was pretty much, hey we know you like hockey, so you’re doing it, you’re on the broadcast. That’s how the whole thing started, and that’s how it is in this business. It’s total right place at the right time, and here we are 23 years later,” Leahy said.

Sure, 23 years in one spot is an accomplishment in any field, but in his case, it’s a little extra special. He’s been with this program from the start, giving him a unique perspective and ability to connect with generations of fans, as he saw Maverick hockey get up and running first-hand.

“It was amazing, and it was exciting,” Leahy said. “Coach (Mike) Kemp was a master in rolling out this program with the administration and the work of Don Leahy (athletic director at the time), and they did a great job rolling things out. Again, a lot of those generations of fans were really brought into this thing, and when this program was announced on June 1, 1996 and when those tickets started going on sale, the excitement was unbelievable, and it reached a fever pitch leading up to that first game.”

Leahy still says those last couple weeks leading up to game one are a blur of memory, but there is one moment that sticks out, as Maverick hockey was introduced to the city of Omaha and it was the birth of something special all these years later.

“I remember they had a big reception where they handed out the season tickets and the team really met the public for the first time on a Sunday night, maybe a week or two ahead of the first game, and everyone got to see the job they’d done getting the building ready for hockey. At the time the Civic needed a huge upgrade, and it got it, and it really opened eyes that this was for real. People were talking about it, then they started buying Maverick gear, it started showing up around town, and the rest is history. It was an exciting time for this program.”

From there the early success would only continue to grow. Through his eyes, Leahy saw a lot of progress for this program, and he still says some of his favorite moments come from those early 2000s Maverick teams.

“In that first year Omaha was in the conference, a lot of great things were starting to happen. Even though they had a losing record, they were making their presence felt their first year in the CCHA, and it would culminate with a trip to Joe Louis Arena. That year, current Mavericks assistant coach Dave Noel-Bernier scored a game-winner at Michigan State, which was a momentum builder. That game happened to be a national broadcast and it was a Thursday night, which started to put us on the map,” Leahy said.

“Also, later that year, Omaha beat a really good Northern Michigan team in the playoffs in a best of three, which led to an all-time great moment. The famed Tuesday night against Bowling Green (3/14/2000, 3-1 Omaha win), the play-in game of that format, and what happened at the Civic Auditorium that night was incredible. That place was shaking and put the program well on its way to that run in the conference final four, but those are just some of the many great memories from those early years,” Leahy said.

Over twenty years later, the Mavericks have compiled 372 all-time wins, find themselves in the best conference in college hockey, are in year four of a seemingly brand new beautiful on-campus arena, with a banner hanging from the rafters. 

As if that isn’t enough, the Mavericks found themselves ranked for the first time since March of 2018 early this season, and under the leadership of third-year head coach Mike Gabinet, Leahy sees all things point in the positive direction for the crimson and black.

“I think we’ve got the right guy and staff. This guy is becoming more impressive the more I watch him and the education philosophies this guy is using, the concepts, and borrowing from a lot of great coaching minds, it’s unbelievable. His father was a high school football coach, and his grandfather (Clare Drake) was a coaching legend in Canada, so Mike’s got all of that wrapped up in him and he continues to add to it. I’m excited for his future here. and I’m just being wowed on a daily basis by the work Gabinet has done.”

Could anyone imagine that when that initial announcement was made in June of 1996 this program would turn into what it is today? Probably not. Leahy admits that himself, but he also doesn’t shy away from the fact he’s excited for the future of Omaha hockey.

“The games are big here in Omaha,” Leahy said. “It’s not the NHL and even though it’s at the collegiate level, the feel for NCAA hockey is special, especially in this place. The team is really exciting and it’s exciting what we have going on with this campus. It’s been a blast to watch the fans and players come together over the years, and this program just continues to develop, so I’m excited for our fans going forward.”

Sure this program has seen its fair share of success and good times over the years, but you’ve got to take the good with the bad. As with anything in life, there are going to be some ups and downs along the way, and that really hit home in the spring of 2015. On the ice, everything seemed to be firing on all cylinders, eventually ending the season in Boston, one win short of a shot at the national championship.

However, back at home, there was something much more important on the line than a chance at a title, and that was the deteriorating health of his loving wife of 24 years, Sheila. An avid fan and supporter of UNO hockey, Sheila was a fixture within the Omaha hockey community.

For nearly two decades, Leahy had brought a passion and energy about UNO hockey to the broadcast that was unmatched. However, during one of the most celebrated times in program history, Leahy would stay behind. For Ahlers, something was missing during that stretch, and that was the voice he had grown accustomed to sharing the airwaves with.

“I would say the games I remember the most were the weekends that Terry wasn’t there. When we went to the NCAA playoffs in 2015, Terry’s wife was very sick at the time, and he stayed back for our trip to the regionals at Notre Dame and for the Frozen Four in Boston. He joined us from the studio for that frozen four, and was part of the broadcast as an analyst, but for as much fun as I had on that trip, it would’ve been a lot more fun to have Terry along with me.

“It was just a tough bit of timing personally for him, for his wife to be sick at that time. I think for us and the relationship that we have, It’s the small moments, and it’s not just the moments you spend in the broadcast booth that mean the most and that really showed it.”

In the ten years they spent together calling Maverick hockey, the two were able to form a special bond, and it’s one Leahy is very thankful for. “We were two incredibly different people came together and became incredibly good friends. He’s a New Englander and I’m from out here in the cornfields, but we just had a blast. I still love walking off the elevator, seeing him and talking before a game, but I really do miss that part of it on the road.”

However, as tough as it may have been for Leahy to not be alongside Ahlers doing what he loved, the choice was obvious—it was the right thing to stay back home with his wife.

“When they had that run in South Bend, I was listening to Dave and Lester (St. James) and turned it on TV, so it was an interesting and different perspective. My wife was fading and not in good shape at the time, and she was at home with me, so we got a chance to watch those games together,” Leahy said. “I remember the days were getting longer, and the sun was shining bright through our bedroom window when we had those games on, and I will forever cherish those moments with her. But, I had no business being there and needed to be at my wife’s side. I certainly wanted to be there, and that was tough timing, but bigger things were going on.”

After the miraculous run to the Frozen Four, the Mavericks returned back to Omaha with a lot to be proud of, and from there, it was not only a team, but a community that stepped up to help in a time of need for the Leahy family. In late April of 2015, a fundraiser was started and a few weeks later an event was held at their church.

Sadly, Sheila passed away on the morning of May 30, 2015, after a battle with cancer. Now, a little over four and a half years later, Leahy still can’t believe the support he received from those around him in the Omaha hockey community when he looks back.

“I had support from every which direction during that time. It was really three-pronged. I had my family, who were incredible. My brothers, sister-in law’s, and as I joke, eight million nieces and nephews, and friends, which was amazing to see how much they did for me. A lot of it also came from my faith community at my church here in town, Holy Cross Catholic Church,” Leahy said.

“Finally, this Omaha and UNO hockey community, which was unbelievable. They saved me in a big way when that was all happening with an incredible fundraiser, and I could never thank them enough,” Leahy said. “At the time, they really settled things down for me and it allowed us to get so much of that financial side – of her getting sick, taken care of, and not having to worry – so we could enjoy the time we had left, but it just really showed how special this place is.”

Born and raised right here in Omaha, this community is not only home to him, but it means everything, and the support he received is just one of many aspects that makes it so special.

“It’s where I’ve spent my whole life, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. It’s so comfortable, it’s in such a great part of the country, and it’s in the middle of everything. There are so many phenomenal people here and the incredible kindness of people, it’s incredible, and that’s why I love it here.”

That kindness that Leahy speaks of might just be part of the “Nebraska nice” reputation around here, but with him, it’s not a gimmick, and those people around him see it. It’s not just the man behind the mic every night, as overall he’s regarded as the same, genuine, good human being.

“With Terry, what you see is what you get,” said Ahlers. “He’s just a good human being who really doesn’t take for granted his involvement with this program over the years, and what he’s been able to do with it throughout the course of his life. Whether he’s meeting somebody in line at Hyvee, or somebody at his church, during the season he’s thinking about hockey, talking about hockey, and he’s just a tremendous ambassador for this program.”

For first year play-by-play man Donny Baarns, the same can be said, and it hasn’t taken long to notice that passion and personality. Like anybody else who’s gotten to work a game alongside Leahy, he’s enjoyed their time together in the booth so far.

“It’s been really fun. His passion for UNO hockey, the community, and for the growth of the sport is really infectious to be around. Terry’s just extremely genuine and very authentic. He cares about the people, cares about the job, the program, and it’s refreshing to be around. He’s just a very good guy, and I’ve developed a pretty fierce love for him after only working with him for a couple of months.

“When we’re in a hotel room the morning of a game, he’s so ready and can’t wait for the game to start, and I think that’s the best thing about him. “Drop the puck!” is a phrase I hear him use a lot, and he’s still excited for every game, as I’m sure he was twenty-some years ago when the program started and he started.”

Throughout the years, Leahy has obviously seen and called his share of hockey, but besides one small detail with prep work, after giving it some thought, he says there’s nothing he’d change.
“None … nothing … not at all—I don’t think I’d change anything at all,” Leahy said. “It’s not a full-time job, so sometimes I wish I had a little more prep time here and there, but beyond that, this job has such a ‘big-time feeling’ to it and I don’t take any of it for granted.”
How would Leahy describe his experiences with UNO hockey in one word?
“Incredible,” he said without hesitation. “That’s it, it’s just been an incredible experience behind the microphone and 23 years later, I still love every minute.”
It’s been an enjoyable 23 years at that, and Leahy is a voice – and a man – Maverick hockey fans are lucky to call their own.


Jordan McAlpine is a student at the University of Nebraska Omaha studying journalism. He is a contributor to The Gateway student newspaper.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Series Preview: Omaha vs. Minnesota Duluth, Dec. 6-7, 2019

The Mavs return to action versus the two-time defending national champion this weekend at Baxter Arena after a Thanksgiving week off.

When we last caught up with the team, they had suffered a tie and a loss to Miami of Ohio on Parent’s Weekend at home.

The Mavs are 6-4-2 overall and 1-2-1-0/0 in conference play, currently in seventh place in the NCHC. UNO is still in 18th place in the USCHO poll this week. Their opponent, Minnesota Duluth, is #14 in the USCHO poll and is 7-6-1 overall and 4-1-1-0 in the NCHC (second place). The Bulldogs were swept by the Mankato Mavericks last weekend.

Series preview articles:

Minnesota Duluth hockey:
> 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 check out episode eight of the second season of the “MavPuckCast with Jason & Jon.” This episode features Jon and Jason talking about the series with Miami, expectations for the rest of the season, and their predictions about Mavericks vs. Bulldogs.

Next up: 
The Mavs head to St. Cloud, Minnesota to take on the SCSU Huskies in the last conference matchup of the year. Friday night’s game will start at 7:37 p.m., and Saturday’s game will begin at 6:07 p.m.