Friday, March 8, 2024

Series Preview: Omaha vs. North Dakota, March 8-9, 2024

We’ve said it before … we’ll say it again: “It’s another Top 20 matchup at Baxter Arena this weekend” as the #16 Omaha Mavericks welcome the #3 North Dakota Fighting Hawks to Baxter Arena for a pair of games. 

This is the final series of the 2023-24 regular season. North Dakota claimed the Penrose Cup (NCHC regular season champion) in Grand Forks last weekend and is locked into home ice as the #1 seed for the first round of the NCHC playoffs. They will face last-place Miami (OH) next week (which Omaha swept last weekend in Oxford, Ohio). 

North Dakota is 24-8-2 overall (15-6-1 in the NCHC). The team is currently on a four-game win streak, sweeping Minnesota Duluth and Western Michigan on successive weekends in Grand Forks. Final scores were 5-3 over WMU on Friday and 3-0 over the Broncos on Saturday. But the Fighting Hawks are 7-4-1 on the road, and Colorado College did manage a sweep of North Dakota in Colorado Springs two weeks ago. 

Omaha has never swept North Dakota (during both our time in the WCHA and the NCHC).

Omaha is 18-10-4 overall (11-8-3 in the NCHC). The Mavericks are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games, and are 14-1 in one-goal games. The two teams met in January in Grand Forks. Omaha won Friday night’s game 5-4 in overtime, but North Dakota got the win on Saturday night, 3-1.

North Dakota leads all-time series between the two teams 36-19-2. The record is 16-9-12 in favor of North Dakota for games played in Omaha. 

Coach Mike Gabinet said the team is ready for another tough matchup. 

“I feel like it’s been a big weekend every weekend for the last — how many weekends? So just ‘business as usual’ and making sure we’re doing everything we can to prepare here and get ready for North Dakota on Friday night,” Gabinet said.

“I can’t think back to a weekend that hasn’t been a big weekend that people aren’t like – ‘Oh, this is the weekend that is important’ — so it almost gets to be almost humorous after a while because you’re just so used to it,” he added.

“You know what? You’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some. Do I know what’s going to happen? No, but you know what I know? That group in there (the players), man, they get after it. I know that coaching staff gets after it. I know nobody’s going to outwork us and out-prepare us, and that’s what we can control, and that’s what we want to build our confidence with is by the work we put in there. And the results will be the results,” Gabinet said.

Saturday night, the Maverick seniors will be honored. Gabinet reflected on the seniors and their impact.

“I'm just really happy for the seniors where they’re at — both on the ice and off the ice — and what they’ve contributed to the team and the university and the community,” he said. “So that's special to me, and I think that’s just what motivates you — to want to have success so they can experience success — because you want it so bad for them. And they deserve it.”

Senior forward Matt Miller said the team is ready for the series. 

“Every team in our conference is going to give us a great battle. We know that going into each week, so we obviously don’t take anybody in our conference lightly,” Miller said. “We know North Dakota is a great team and plays similar to how we do in some ways. So we know that … we’re ready for that week in and week out.”

“I think this week is just another test for us to see how well we can buy into our team’s game plan. If we can do that, then I think they’re going to be two really good games this weekend,” he added.

NCHC Playoff Implications

Omaha still has a chance to secure home ice. Realistically, Omaha needs at least five points (and help from Denver) to secure home ice. In addition to North Dakota, St. Cloud and Denver have both secured home ice. 

Colorado College has 38 points and is currently in fourth place. Omaha has 34 points and is in fifth place, 3 points ahead of Western Michigan. WMU plays Miami to end the season. Omaha can finish anywhere from fourth to six place. Western doesn’t have a chance for home ice for the playoffs, but could still finish ahead of UNO.

Here’s the NCHC summary:

NoDak 49 to 55 points (secured 1st place and home ice)
Denver 42 to 48 points (home ice guaranteed)
SCSU 40 to 46 points (home ice guaranteed)
CC 38 to 44 points
Omaha 34 to 40 points
Western 31 to 37 points (no chance for 4th place)
Duluth 23 to 29 points (locked into 7th)
Miami 7 to 13 points (locked into 8th)

For Fans Attending the Games in Person:

The west lot outside Baxter, Lot 25, is now open to donors only and parking passes are required to park in that lot. The north lot, Lot 27, offers free parking on a first-come, first-served basis, as is Lot 26 (west of the arena, across the creek). Omaha Athletics is also encouraging fans to park in one of the public garages at Aksarben Village.

Sellout crowds are expected this weekend. Fans should arrive early, especially if entering via the west entrance. Have digital tickets ready to scan in the Omaha Mavericks app (or add them from your MyMavs account to your phone’s wallet app). If you have questions, stop by the box office at Baxter Arena before the game or call 402-554-MAVS.

The clear bag policy remains in effect at Baxter Arena, and metal detectors are now at all entrances. All concession stands are card only (no cash).


Friday night is Leap-For-A-Cure night. There will be a table in the concourse where LFAC representatives will be collecting donations. In addition, the game-worn jersey auctions starts online Friday (ending Thursday, March 14). The Saturday night “grays” will be auctioned and the proceeds donated to Leap-For-A-Cure.

Saturday night is Senior Night and a White Out. (No shorts will be distributed; fans are encouraged to wear white.)

The seniors being honored are Brock Bremer, Jimmy Glynn, Nolan Krenzen, Matt Miller, Kirby Proctor (GR) Jack Randl (GR), and Nolan Sullivan (GR). 

Transfers Seth Eisele, Jesse Lansdell and Dom Vidoli are closing out their Maverick careers but will not be honored on ice as they were honored as seniors by their previous teams.

* GR – Graduate student

Series preview articles:

North Dakota Fighting Hawks: ($):

Tom Shatel asks if there is a college sport with a thinner margin for error than hockey ($):

> Friday, 7:07 p.m. CT at Baxter Arena (Omaha, NE) 
> Saturday, 7:07 p.m. CT at Baxter Arena (Omaha, NE)

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.

Friday and Saturday night’s games will be streamed on ($) 

Live Stats:
Friday and Saturday night stats will be available here.

Catch up on Mav hockey by watching Episode 18 of the sixth season of the MavPuckCast, with Jon and Bridget. In the 38-minute episode, they recap the Miami University series and preview the North Dakota series. Plus, catch Bridget’s interview with the event manager of the 2024 Ice Breaker tournament.

Next up: Omaha awaits the results of the final weekend of NCHC play to see where (and what time) next weekend’s games will be.

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