MINNEAPOLIS — Ryan Walters collected a turnover and set up Josh Archibald for the third-period game-winner as Nos. 13 and 14 UNO knocked off No. 3 Minnesota 3-2 on Friday night in the opener of a key WCHA series.
After collecting a turnover by Zach Budish, Walters drove toward the right post, but rather than shoot, he dropped a pass back to Archibald — who was skating across the slot from right to left. Archibald beat goalie Adam Wilcox for his seventh goal of the season.
The goal came with 15:17 left, and the Mavericks held off the Gophers the rest of the way.
The University of Nebraska at Omaha (9-3-1, 5-1-1 WCHA) won its seventh straight game — one short of the school record — while ending the Gophers’ six-game unbeaten streak (4-0-2) in front of a stunned 9,997 at Mariucci Arena.
Archibald, from Brainerd, Minn., also added two assists and Walters — a one-time Gophers commit from Rosemount, Minn. — had two assists.
UNO goalie John Faulkner had 19 saves and improved to a national-best 8-0-1. The senior moved into second place on the Mavs’ all-time wins list with 46.
UNO jumped past Minnesota in the WCHA standings. The Gophers had been tied for second with St. Cloud State, which played late Friday at Alaska-Anchorage, while UNO had been one point behind.
UNO and Minnesota meet again Saturday at 7:07 p.m.
UNO’s line of Walters, Archibald and Dominic Zombo stayed red-hot, combining for six of the Mavs’ seven points. Defenseman Jaycob Megna added a goal.
UNO scored 4:17 into the game as Zombo made a key play in the defensive zone, and then tipped in a goal after Archibald rushed up the ice and centered. It was the fifth goal of the season for Zombo, all in the last four games, and the sophomore has a six-game point streak (5 goals, 6 assists).
Archibald leads the Mavs in goals with seven. Walters saw his five-game goal streak end, but he has six goals and nine assists in the last six games.
The Gophers (9-3-2, 4-3-2) weren’t down for long — they tied it 1:23 later as Budish capitalized after a Mav turnover.
Minnesota took a 2-1 lead with 4:48 left in the opening period, as Nick Bjugstad set up Christian Isackson for the go-ahead goal.
But the Mavs tied it at 2 with one second left on a second-period power play, as Walters delivered a pass from the right faceoff circle to Megna, who was creeping into the slot. The sophomore beat Wilcox over the goalie’s left shoulder for his first goal of the season.
Minnesota’s penalty kill entered the weekend as the best in the WCHA and fifth nationally at 90.5 percent with four goals allowed in 42 chances. The Mavs also shut down the Gophers’ lethal power play, which went 0 for 4. They had been third in the WCHA and ninth in the country with 23-percent success with the man advantage.
UNO, which had been 10th nationally on the power play at 22 percent, recorded a power-play goal in a sixth straight game. The Mavs’ penalty kill, second in the WCHA and 15th in the country before Friday, has been successful on 50 of 57 tries (87.7 percent).
UNO played without a pair of injured freshman defensemen, as neither Nick Seeler nor Brian Cooper made the trip. Cooper has missed the past five games.