UNO coach Mike Gabinet said after Friday’s 5-2 loss to No. 12 Wisconsin that he thought his team played extremely well, but the bounces just didn’t go the Mavericks’ way.
They did Saturday.
Joey Abate and Martin Sundberg keyed two-goal rallies with a goal and an assist each to lead No. 20 UNO past the Badgers 5-2 in front of 6,411 at Baxter Arena to earn a weekend split in the series.
Gabinet said he was pleased with his team’s intensity coming off the loss.
“Big time win for the guys,” Gabinet said. “Last night I thought we did a lot of things really well and didn’t get rewarded. And to come back tonight with the same effort and even another step just speaks to the character that’s in that locker room.
“And the will and to have some adversity throughout the game, gosh, it was just great to see.”
The Mavs outshot Wisconsin 42-31 overall and 18-5 in the third period.
UNO opened the scoring 10:45 into the game on a Taylor Ward shot for his third goal of the season.
But the lead was short-lived.
Alex Turcotte answered just 27 seconds later on a wristshot from the left faceoff circle that beat UNO netminder Isaiah Saville.
The score was tied 1-1 after the first period with the Mavs outshooting Wisconsin 12-9.
UNO grabbed a 2-1 lead 1:57 into the second. An Abate shot trickled past Badger goaltender Daniel Lebedeff and into the crease, and Kevin Conley was there to poke it home for his second goal of the season.
Abate made it 3-1 with 12:18 left in the second period off a Tyler Weiss pass from behind the goal line. It was Abate’s fourth goal of the year.
Abate said he and his teammates were looking to make a statement early in the period and gain some momentum.
“It’s huge coming out of a 15-minute break pretty much, and I thought we were buzzing there at the end of the first,” he said. “Just coming out big and getting pucks behind their D, we knew from the beginning that we wanted to do that.
“Luckily we get a bounce off the wall, tip it, it goes in. Now we’re rolling.”
Josh Boyer was hit with a roughing penalty at 14:19 of the second period, and the Mavericks found themselves down two men after a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct to Noah Prokop for face-masking 14 seconds later.
Wisconsin capitalized when Turcotte fired a shot from the wing over Saville’s glove to pull the Badgers within 3-2 with 4:51 left in the second.
It was the only power-play goal allowed by the Mavs all weekend to go along with nine kills.
Gabinet said penalty killing was a team effort over the weekend.
“That’s a tough go, 5-on-3 for that long, and obviously with their potent power play, our penalty kill did a great job,” he said. “Saville was kicking, and everybody was pulling together and found a way to get it done.”
The Mavericks (5-2-1) led 3-2 after two periods, with the Badgers (5-5-0) holding a 26-24 shots on goal advantage.
The Mavs broke it open in the third with goals by Martin Sundberg at 2:28 and Josh Boyer at 5:17.
Sundberg’s goal was his first of the season, and he assisted on Boyer’s goal.
Sundberg, who was scratched Friday, said he’s always willing to contribute when asked.
“I take every opportunity I can to play, and when I go, I’m ready to go, and it paid out today,” he said.
The Mavs open NCHC play when they travel to Western Michigan for a two-game series beginning Friday.
Wisconsin (5-5-0)...1 1 0—2
At UNO (5-2-1).......1 2 2—5
First Period: 1, UNO, Taylor Ward (Teemu Pulkkinen, Kirby Proctor) 10:45. 2, UW, Alex Turcotte (Linus Weissbach) 11:12).
Second Period: 3, UNO, Kevin Conley (Joey Abate, Zach Jordan) 1:57. 4, UNO, Abate (Tyler Weiss) 7:42. 5, UW, Turcotte ppg (Cole Caufield, Dylan Holloway) 15:09.
Third Period: 6, UNO, Martin Sundberg (Nate Knoepke, Nolan Sullivan) 2:28. 7, UNO Josh Boyer (Sundberg, Sullivan) 5:17.
Shots on goal:
Wisconsin...9 17 5—31
UNO.........12 12 18—42
Power plays: Wisconsin 1 of 4; UNO 0 of 2.
Penalties-minutes: Wisconsin 4-8; UNO 7-25.
Goaltenders: Wisconsin: Daniel Lebedeff (32 shots, 27 saves, 45:17), Jack Berry (10 shots, 10 saves, 14:43).