KALAMAZOO, Mich. — UNO jumped to a 2-0 lead, Josh Archibald turned in yet another third-period goal, and Ryan Massa was sharp in his first action in goal in more than a month Friday night, as UNO beat Western Michigan 5-1 for a key National Collegiate Hockey Conference road victory.
The Mavericks strengthened their grip on a potential upper-division finish with the win in front of 3,133 at Lawson Ice Arena.
Senior Zahn Raubenheimer got the Mavericks on the board with his sixth goal of the season at the 9:53 mark of the opening period, taking a pass from Tanner Lane and shooting over the left shoulder of goalie Lukas Hafner.
The Mavs then converted on a second-period, 4-on-3 power play, with Dominic Zombo getting his 14th goal of the season at the 15:11 mark, tapping in the rebound of a shot by Ryan Walters from the right faceoff circle.
Western Michigan cut its deficit to 2-1 just over 2½ minutes later on Chase Balisy's back-hander, but Archibald's NCHC-leading 24th goal of the season — and his nation-leading 12th third-period goal — gave UNO a 3-1 lead 3:09 into the final period.
That was more than enough for Massa, who had last played Jan. 18 before suffering a groin injury during a bye-weekend scrimmage the next week. The junior from Littleton, Colo., turned aside 32 of 33 shots to improve to 7-5-1.
Freshmen Austin Ortega and Jake Guentzel tacked on goals — Ortega's eighth came at the 9:22 mark of the final period, while Guentzel got his fourth on an empty-netter with 1:15 left.
Guentzel, Archibald and Walters all had two-point nights for the Mavs — Guentzel and Walters now share the team lead with 21 assists.
UNO continued its strong performance on the penalty kill, denying Western Michigan on all seven of its man advantages. UNO has now successfully killed off 47 of the last 48 power plays it has faced.
The Mavs scored four goals against Hafner (6-5-2) who had been ranked second in the NCHC in goals-against average (2.08) and save percentage (.923). Hafner had been 11th nationally in GAA.
Meanwhile Friday, last-place Miami (Ohio) knocked off first-place St. Cloud State to tighten things up at the top of the standings. The Huskies stayed at 36 points, while North Dakota beat Minnesota-Duluth to move into a tie for first.
UNO, with 33 points, is three points behind the leaders in third place and has opened a five-point lead over Minnesota-Duluth and Western Michigan, who are tied for fifth at 28 points. The top four teams at season's end earn home ice for the first round of the playoffs.
UNO wraps up its series with the Broncos in a 6 p.m. CST game Saturday.
UNO (13-14-2, 10-7-2-1) .......................................... 1 1 3—5
At Western Michigan (14-12-5, 8-9-2-2) .................. 0 1 0—1
First period: 1, UNO, Raubenheimer 6 (Lane), 9:53.
Second period: 2, UNO, Zombo 14 (Walters, Young), 15:11 (pp). 3, WM, Balisy 7 (Morrison, Fleming), 17:49.
Third period: 4, UNO, Archibald 24 (Walters), 3:09. 4, UNO, Ortega 8 (Montpetit, Guentzel), 9:22. 5, UNO, Guentzel 4 (Archibald), 18:45 (en).
Shots on goal
UNO ............................................................... 8 7 11—26
Western Michigan .......................................... 11 11 11—33
Power plays: UNO 1-6, WM 0-7.
Penalties-minutes: UNO 8-16, M 8-16.
Goalies: UNO, Massa 7-5-1 (33 shots-32 saves), 60:00. WM, Hafner 6-5-2 (25-21), 57:57.