UNO is hoping to finish the 2019 portion of its schedule on a positive note.
The Mavericks host Arizona State in a pair of nonconference games Saturday and Sunday at Baxter Arena. Game time Saturday is 7:07 p.m. and Sunday is 4:07.
UNO will ride the momentum of a 4-3 overtime victory last Saturday at St. Cloud State into the series against the Sun Devils. Senior forward Zach Jordan scored the winner 11 seconds into overtime as the Mavs snapped a five-game winless streak.
“It’s a difficult place to play, so it was nice to get the overtime win,’’ UNO coach Mike Gabinet said. “We had lots of energy from the guys coming back and in practice this week.’’
The Mavs enter Saturday’s game 7-7-2 overall while Arizona State is 9-5-2 and ranked 14th and 16th in the national polls.
UNO will be without starting goalie Isaiah Saville for this series and perhaps the first one in 2020. The freshman is competing for a spot this week on the U.S. world junior championship team.
The tournament is Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 in the Czech Republic. If Saville makes the final cut, he also would miss the Mavs’ Jan. 3 and 4 series at Maine.
“Isaiah most likely will be gone until we’re back into conference play,’’ Gabinet said. “It’s a loss for us but a great opportunity for him to represent his country.’’
That means freshman Austin Roden will be counted on heavily the next few weeks. Saville has started 14 of the Mavs’ 16 games while Roden has started two.
“It’s nice that we’ve got another guy that’s done a tremendous job whenever he’s played,’’ Gabinet said. “We’re looking forward to him getting the opportunity to be in the net and battle for us.’’
Jordan and senior forward Teemu Pulkkinen said the team is prepared for Saville’s absence.
“We have plenty of confidence in Austin,’’ Jordan said. “We’re going to miss Isaiah and wish him the best of luck, but we’ll be OK.’’
Pulkkinen added: “This is a team sport. You can’t count on just one guy, and we’re going to get it done.’’
The backup goalie will be freshman Jacob Zab, who has yet to see action this season.
Jordan said the Mavs’ most recent victory, their first since Nov. 16, could signal a change in fortunes.
“Hopefully, it will be a positive turnaround for us,’’ he said. “I think it’s huge and definitely should help us heading into this weekend.’’
Gabinet said the timing of this series presents another challenge.
“We’ve played a very difficult schedule, and with finals going on for these guys, it’s been a grind,’’ he said. “We have another tough series this weekend before we can take a break.’’
The Mavs will have an 11-day break for Christmas before resuming play Jan. 3 at Maine … The Sun Devils are guided by Greg Powers, in his fifth season as coach … Arizona State is 4-4 on the road and 6-2-2 in its last 10 games … Kevin Conley leads UNO in scoring with 14 points while Jordan and Taylor Ward are tied for the goal-scoring lead with seven … UNO leads the series 5-2-1 against the Sun Devils, including a 5-0-1 mark at Baxter Arena … These will be the only Division I games in the nation this weekend.