UNO coach Mike Gabinet decided to honor his five seniors on Senior Night by starting all of them.
But the emotion of that moment didn’t translate into success the rest of the night as the Mavericks suffered their third shutout in the past four games with a 5-0 loss to No. 2 North Dakota in front of 6,752 at Baxter Arena.
Defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker led the Fighting Hawks with two goals and an assist as North Dakota salvaged a series and season split with the Mavericks after Friday’s 4-1 loss.
UNO was penalized nine times for 18 minutes and allowed two power-play goals in the third period.
Gabinet said he didn’t blame his players for some of the physical play that resulted in penalties.
“I didn’t like a couple of our penalties we took there at the end of the game, but I also have some empathy for our players. We’ve (previously) played these guys three times, we’ve got three concussions,” Gabinet said. “At the end of the day, these guys are a very, very tight-knit group, and they really care about each other. It’s hard when you see teammates constantly go down.”
Defenseman Ryan Jones said the team needs to know when to be smart physically.
“I think toward the end of the game, we kind of got away from that with taking, in my opinion, penalties that we didn’t need to be taking. It kills momentum for us. We’ll clean it up. We’ve just got to be smarter, and we’ve got to have emotional control,” Jones said.
Jones, along with fellow seniors Teemu Pulkkinen, Dean Stewart, Tristan Keck and Zach Jordan, were surprised to see they were all in the starting lineup.
Gabinet said they earned it.
“I think there’s some things bigger than having that perfect start with your matchup or whatever it is. I mean, these are five guys that have given a lot to the program,” he said. “When you have guys that take it upon themselves to show what it takes to belong to the program, and that’s what those five guys do, and they deserved to all start on their last game in our building.”
Stewart said Gabinet didn’t run that idea by any of the players beforehand.
“I think that’s pretty cool. Obviously a bit of an emotional night for us. I think it’s more in the lead-up than anything. Once the puck dropped, I don’t think anyone was worried about (the matchups) too much,” Stewart said. “But it’s still crazy to think that that was our last game at Baxter Arena. I’m not a real emotional person, but I was pretty sad coming off the ice for that last time, for sure.”
It didn’t take long for North Dakota to get on the scoreboard as Westin Michaud scored his 16th of the season on a wrist shot from the left wing 63 seconds into the game.
UNO (15-17-5, 8-13-3-0 NCHC) had a chance to even things when Jonny Tychonik was sent off for roughing with 2:46 left in the first.
Instead, Colton Poolman buried a short-handed goal with 48 seconds left in the period for a 2-0 lead as UND took command.
UNO will be on the road as the No. 6 seed in the NCHC quarterfinals beginning Friday.
North Dakota (26-5-4, 17-4-3-2)....2 1 2—5
At UNO (14-17-5, 8-13-3-0)............0 0 0—0
First period: 1, UND, Westin Michaud (Jasper Weatherby) 1:03. 2, UND, Colton Poolman shg (Cole Smith, Dixon Bowen) 19:12.
Second period: 3, UND, Jacob Bernard-Docker (Harrison Blaisdell, Gabe Bast) 2:48.
Third period: 4, UND, Smith ppg (Grant Mismash, Bernard-Docker) 13:23. 5, UND, Bernard-Docker ppg (Mark Senden, Bowen) 16:25.
Shots on goal
North Dakota.........9 10 9—28
UNO.....................6 5 6—17
Power plays: North Dakota 2 of 8; UNO 0 of 4.
Penalties-minutes: North Dakota 5-10; UNO 9-18.
Goaltenders: North Dakota: Peter Thome (17 shots, 17 saves, 60:00); UNO: Austin Roden (28 shots, 23 saves, 60:00),
Three stars: 1, UND, Thome. 2, UND, Bernard-Docker. 3, UND, Smith.