Despite coming up winless last weekend, UNO coach Mike Gabinet said his team remains upbeat.
“We’re optimistic and positive,” he said. “Denver was a very good opponent, and to come away with two ties is a good thing, though you always want more.”
The Mavericks, who have faced highly ranked foes North Dakota and Denver the past two weeks, will play a pair of games at unranked Colorado College this weekend. Game time Friday is 8:37 p.m. and Saturday is 5:07.
UNO sits in a tie for sixth with Miami in the eight-team NCHC with 12 points. Colorado College is last with 10 points.
The Mavs are coming off two ties with the fifth-ranked Pioneers, including a 2-2 game Saturday when Denver scored with 13 seconds left in regulation.
Gabinet said it’s getting to the point in the season when the Mavs need to make a move in the standings. They hope to finish in the top four in the league to host a playoff series.
“You see the importance of these games on our schedule with the standings being so tight,” he said. “Obviously, these are very important games coming up.”
The Mavs practiced at Moylan Ice Arena this week in preparation for its games against the Tigers. Moylan’s rink has an Olympic-size sheet of ice, similar to the one at Colorado College.
Standard rinks are 200 feet by 85 feet while an Olympic-size rink is 200 by 100. The Mavs played on the bigger rink at St. Cloud State in mid-December, splitting a pair of games.
“Colorado College actually plays a little similar to St. Cloud,” Gabinet said. “They’re small and quick and they use that big ice to their advantage.”
The coach added that he’s hopeful practicing at Moylan will give his team an edge.
“Our goal is to use the angles,” he said. “It should help us prepare properly for this weekend.”
Gabinet said he also can see a day when all collegiate ice surfaces are the same size, as they are in the NHL.
“I think it’s going to get there eventually,” he said. “With all of the players moving from the NCAA to the professional ranks, it would be a positive to prepare those guys.”
The Mavs will be riding a hot goalie this weekend. Freshman Isaiah Saville made 72 saves in two games against Denver — 45 Saturday night — to help the team secure those ties.
“I thought last weekend was one of his best performances of the season,” Gabinet said. “To make timely saves like that is what you want your goaltender to do.”
Colorado College is led by Mike Haviland, in his sixth season as coach … The Mavs enter this weekend 9-10-5 overall while the Tigers are 8-11-1 … Two UNO defensemen — sophomore Jason Smallidge and freshman Alex Roy — are still sidelined by injury. They were both hurt in the North Dakota series Jan. 10-11 … Taylor Ward continues to lead the Mavs in scoring with 13 goals and seven assists for 20 points. Zach Jordan is second on the team in goals with 10 … The Tigers are coming off a pair of losses at Western Michigan … UNO leads the all-time series 15-9-5 and is 7-6-1 in games at Colorado Springs.