Just as its been doing for the past five years, Denver broke UNO’s heart once again Saturday night.
The Pioneers scored with 13 seconds left in regulation to salvage a 2-2 tie. The Mavericks remain winless in their past 18 games against Denver — 15 losses and three ties.
“Mixed emotions after the game tonight," UNO coach Mike Gabinet said. “I’m really proud of the effort from our guys, but it’s frustrating not to get three (standings) points."
After freshman Bobby Brink fired a shot past UNO goalie Isaiah Saville from the left faceoff circle to tie the game, the teams played a scoreless five-minute overtime. Michael Davies then scored on a breakaway in the second overtime to give Denver a bonus point in the NCHC standings.
UNO might have been considered fortunate to get any point out of the game, played in front of 6,200 at Baxter Arena. The Mavs were outshot 47-13, and only the strong goaltending of Saville kept UNO in the game.
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“Your goaltender is your most important player when you’re playing a high-powered offensive team," Gabinet said. “I thought he was composed all weekend."
The Mavs also tied Denver — ranked fourth nationally in both polls — on Friday night.
UNO, which last defeated the Pioneers in January 2015, appeared to be in great shape after the first period. Despite being outshot 12-4, the Mavs held a 2-0 lead.
Taylor Ward scored his team-leading 13th goal on the power play with 1:15 left in the period. He fired in a rebound of a Zach Jordan shot past Denver goalie Devin Cooley.
The Mavs made it 2-0 when Tristan Keck stole the puck from defenseman Ian Mitchell near the Denver net and ripped a high shot over Cooley’s glove.
“I put it upstairs and thankfully it went in," Keck said. “It was a huge gift."
But that momentum slipped away from UNO early in the second period when the Mavs were whistled for slashing. The Pioneers took advantage of the opportunity when Cole Guttman scored from the slot.
“I was disappointed in some of our decision-making out there, with regards to penalties," Gabinet said.
The score remained 2-1 throughout the rest of the period in large part because of Saville, who made his best sequence of saves in the final 30 seconds. He denied Tyson McClellan twice from point-blank range, saves that came shortly after McClellan had dinged one off the goal post.
UNO desperately tried to hang on in the third period as Denver ramped up the offensive pressure. The Pioneers, who outshot the Mavs 16-4 in the period, pulled their goalie with 1:30 left and finally got it tied on Brink’s goal.
“I’ll be honest, I don’t even remember the play," Saville said. “I know that Brink scored, but it’s kind of a blur now."
Saville made four tough saves in the first overtime but he couldn’t stop Davies’ breakaway goal in the opening minute of the second five-minute overtime.
“I appreciate the character and the effort," Gabinet said. “But it’s just so frustrating because we’re right there."
The second five-minute overtime is 3-on-3 and none of the statistics officially count. ... On the bright side for the Mavs, they have finished their regular-season series against Denver. ... The Pioneers, who hit the goalpost three times on Friday, hit it twice on Saturday night. ... The UNO baseball team, which won the Summit League title last season, was honored between the second and third periods. ... The Mavs return to action next weekend with a pair of games at Colorado College.
Denver (15-4-5, 5-3-4)......0 1 1 0 (1)—2
At UNO (9-10-5, 3-6-3)......2 0 0 0 (0)—2
First period: 1, UNO, Ward 13 (Jordan), power play, 18:45. 2, UNO, Keck 5 (unassisted), 19:36.
Second period: 3, DU, Guttman (Brink, Pettersen), power play, 1:25.
Third period: DU, Brink (Stapley, Mitchell), 19:46.
First overtime: No scoring.
Second overtime: DU, Davies, :40.
Shots on goal
Denver.....12 13 16 6 (1)—47
UNO..........4 5 4 0 (0)—13
Saves: Denver, Cooley (11). UNO, Saville (45).
Power-play conversions: DU, 1-5. UNO, 1-3.
Three stars: 1, DU, Bobby Brink. 2, UNO, Tristan Keck. 3, UNO, Taylor Ward.