Thursday, March 14, 2024

Series Preview: Omaha at Colorado College, NCHC Quarterfinals (March 14-16, 2024)

It’s playoff hockey time for Omaha!

The #12 Mavericks missed out on home ice at Baxter Arena by one point and ended up in fifth place in the NCHC. They will face fourth place (#10) Colorado College Tigers. 

Omaha (20-10-4) swept #3 North Dakota for the first time in program history in the final home series of the season, winning 3-2 Friday and 4-1 Saturday. Omaha is unbeaten in 11 of their last 12 games (9-1-2).

Omaha leads the all-time series 27-14-6. When the two teams meet in Colorado Springs, Omaha leads the series 12-9-1. However, the Tigers are 11-6-2 at Ed Robson Arena this year. This is the first time Colorado College has secured home ice for the NCHC playoffs since the NCHC began. 

Colorado College (20-11-3) split their final series of the NCHC regular season, winning 4-3 Friday night in Colorado Springs and losing Saturday night 4-3 in Denver. Colorado College is 17-2 this season when scoring three or more goals.

The two teams last played three weeks ago in Omaha. The Mavericks shut out the Tigers 3-0 on Friday night. Saturday night, the game officially was recorded as a 1-1 tie. Omaha got the extra NCHC point, winning the shootout. Colorado College held Denver without a power play goal on Saturday night, the sixth straight game the Tigers have not allowed a power play goal.

Omaha is 15-1-0 in one-goal games this year.  

Graduate forward Jack Randl met with the media Tuesday.

“That was really special last weekend, getting those two big wins at home. I think we’re just continuing to (look) to get better every weekend and every game,” Randl said. “I think we can definitely build off those wins and that momentum we have. (We’ve) got a lot of confidence in our group right now so I think that’s really key going into this weekend.”

“I think we have kept that belief all year that we’re a good team and you know, when we’re playing our best, we can beat anyone in the country,” Randl added.

Speaking about his own personal evolution as a player, he said, “I’ve always tried to put the work first and be a good 200-foot player and pay attention to the details out there. As I’ve gotten more confidence in my abilities, just looking to continue building my skills and keep working on that.” 

Reflecting on the impact the current leadership group has taught the younger players, Randl said, “If you ask any guy, the most fun is just being around the guys and just enjoying each other’s company and just going out and working with each other. We’re such a close group that it’s been a lot of fun and I think the younger guys really learned that as well.”

When asked about what the Mavericks learned from facing the Tigers a few weeks after playing them at Baxter Arena, Randl noted, “I think just stick to our game plan and being all right with nothing (happening) at times if they want to try and play (a) slower game. I think just managing the puck and not feeding their transition and just getting pucks behind them” will be keys. “I thought we did that really well when they were here.”

Coach Mike Gabinet said the team is ready for the weekend. “Playoff hockey is always an exciting time, and I know the guys are looking forward to it. We’re excited to get on the road and get ready for Friday night.” 

“We have some great individuals on the team, but we’re also — most importantly — a great team. I think that really drives that when guys are cheering for each other, guys are supporting each other, guys are playing to a certain identity, a game plan. That’s what’s made us successful,” Gabinet said. “I think when you look back at the last eight weekends, I think the guys have really seen that (to) be successful, they know when we do things a certain way that we’re being successful, so that’s been reinforced. When that happens, good things usually tend to happen.”

Series preview articles:

Colorado College Hockey: ($)
> Friday, 8:07 p.m. CT at Ed Robson Arena (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
> Saturday, 7:07 p.m. CT at Ed Robson Arena (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
> (If necessary), Sunday, 7:07 p.m. CT at Ed Robson Arena (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

Both games will be broadcast live on 1290 AM and on The Varsity Network app. Pre-game coverage begins 30 minutes prior to face-off with the FNBO Pre-Game Show. “Voice of the Mavs” Mike Vaillancourt will have the play-by-play, with color commentary provided by Terry Leahy.

Both games will be streamed on ($) 

Watch Party:
UNO Spirit, Tradition, and Signature Events has put together a watch party on Friday night at Hurrdat Sports Bar & Grill.

Live Stats:
Live stats can be found here

See what you missed last weekend by watching the 19th episode of the sixth season of the MavPuckCast.  In the 38-minute episode, Jon and Bridget recap the sweep of North Dakota, look at “Things You Missed at Baxter Arena” (including honoring the seniors and graduate students), and preview the NCHC quarterfinal matchup with Colorado College.

Next up: A trip to the Frozen Faceoff is on the line for Omaha. Win and they’re in. Lose, and the Mavericks wait to see if they’ve made the NCAA tournament as an at-large team.

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