Friday, March 1, 2024

Series Preview: Omaha at Miami University (Ohio), March 1-2, 2024

It’s the final road series of the 2023-24 regular season as No. 18 Omaha travels to Oxford, Ohio to take on the Miami University RedHawks. 

Omaha is currently in sixth place in the NCHC with 28 points, just three points behind fifth place Western Michigan, and six points out of fourth place (Colorado College has 34 points). The battle for home ice in the NCHC playoffs is at stake with only two series remaining in the season, and points are critical for the Mavericks.

The RedHawks (7-20-3 overall, 1-17-2 in the NCHC) have sealed their spot as the eighth place team in the conference, and are coming off a weekend in which they tied Denver 3-3 on Friday night (shootout loss) and lost Saturday 8-1.

Omaha took five of six conference points from Colorado College last weekend, earning a 3-0 win on Friday and tying CC 1-1 on Saturday (with Tanner Ludkte winning the shootout for Omaha).

Miami leads the all-time series with Omaha 29-25-7, but Omaha swept the series last year and is 6-4 in the last 10 games against Miami. The two teams have not faced each other previously during the 2023-24 season. 

Saturday night is senior night for the RedHawks. They will recognize seven seniors: Robby Drazner, PJ Fletcher, Matthew Barbolini, Albin Nilsson, Thomas Daskas, Hampus Rydqvist, and Dylan Moulton. Fletcher and Barbolini are tied for the team lead in goals with 11 each.

In the weekly press conference, UNO Hockey Coach Mike Gabinet said the team was working on keeping their momentum from last weekend. 

“Just (taking it) one day at a time and reflect(ing) on the good things we did on the weekend there and just keep building. I think that’s the message right now. Finding ways to keep finding little incremental growth opportunities throughout the week and on the weekends — and (it’s) no different here this weekend. We’re heading into an important weekend here and (we’ve) got to do everything in (our) power to prepare appropriately and be ready to go,” he said.

“You just have to stick with doing what you’ve been doing, but also understand the situation you’re going into,” Gabinet added. “When you have a real successful weekend, sometimes it's natural to take a deep breath and kind of allow yourself to just kind of catch your breath a little bit. It's important to do that (and) recover — but then also get onto the next task and the next thing in front of you. I think that’s where all our focus is now — is coming out ready to play on Friday night there.”

“I think, just talking to our players, they know that (Miami) got a win against Western, they were tied against NoDak, they were tied against Denver. It doesn’t (take) a rocket scientist to figure out they’re a good hockey team in a very tough conference, so I think everybody knows the challenge ahead of us here and we’ll be prepared Friday night,” Gabinet said.

They won’t overlook the RedHawks. “In this conference, everybody is good and you got to be careful just looking at a record,” he added.

Gabinet said goaltender Simon Latkoczy was a key component in both games. “I was so happy for him to have a really strong showing here this weekend. When you’re in this environment, you’re going to have highs and lows, and navigating that has been good growth for him — to face some tough situations and just continue to learn and grow and improve and then ultimately to see him get rewarded with an unbelievable weekend was pretty special.” 

Sophomore defenseman Griffin Ludtke talked about playing in front of Latkoczy. “Simon’s phenomenal and it really showed last weekend on Friday and Saturday and in the shootout and overtime as well — but I think you see it week to week in practice and in day to day — and he’s excellent every day and he challenges himself. He meets with (Coach) Pete (Aubry) and with (Coach Gabinet) — they've been working as a team to kind of just all be on the same page and figure out what’s going to work for (him).”

“I just know our room, we feel like we can beat anyone and Simon’s the driver of that when he’s hot because he gives us a chance every game. It’s critical and it’s coming at a great time. And he’s been great all year, but we love weekends like last weekend,” Ludtke added.

“Sweeping the number 10 team in the country is a big deal to us and it’s a big deal to our community, so it was awesome and you don’t take moments like that for granted,” he added.

“Points are critical and we’re still in the NCHC and every team’s great and every team can play. I mean, (Miami) took Denver to overtime and had a thriller there. Denver's a phenomenal team which means Miami’s a very capable and great team as well, so you can’t overlook anyone in college hockey as a whole, let alone our conference. It means something to be a part of the NCHC. So we know how important it is,” Ludtke said.

“We know what they're going to bring and I just think all we can do is continue to prepare and be ready to feel great Friday and Saturday and make the most of our opportunities,” he added.

Series preview articles:

Miami University Hockey: ($)
> Friday, 6:05 p.m. CT at Steve Cady Arena at Goggin Ice Center (Miami, Ohio)
> Saturday, 6:05 p.m. CT at Steve Cady Arena at Goggin Ice Center (Miami, Ohio)

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 ($) 

Live Stats:
Live stats can be found here

See what you missed last weekend by watching the 17th episode of the sixth season of the MavPuckCast.  In the 62-minute episode, Jon and Jason recap the Colorado College series, look at “Things You Missed at Baxter Arena,” and preview the Miami University series.

Next up: The Mavs wrap up the 2023-24 season with a home stand against North Dakota at Baxter Arena on March 8-9. Saturday night is Senior Night for Omaha.

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