UNO coach Mike Gabinet said a split last weekend at Ohio State was a positive sign for his young squad.
“It was a good weekend for the program,” he said. “I thought we played extremely hard Friday night and then our character showed Saturday night after taking that tough loss.”
Gabinet said the performance showed his team is listening to what the coaches have been saying.
“I’ve been impressed with the guys’ character and work ethic,” he said. “It’s what I was talking about all training camp long.”
The coach said the players also have bought into the team concept.
“I just really enjoy this group,” he said. “They play for each other and play as a team.”
Early off week
An off week this early in the season isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Gabinet said.
“I’m OK with it,” he said. “We’ve got a couple guys nicked up a little bit and I think it’s a good time for us to be focused on what’s ahead.”
The Mavericks will be idle until a road series against Alaska Anchorage on Thursday and Friday. UNO won’t play again at home until the following weekend in a pair of games against Wisconsin.
Gabinet said the team will stay busy this week even without games.
“We want to make sure we’re recovering properly and increasing our conditioning,” he said. “We need to take the necessary steps to have success in the future because we’re going to get busy.”
The Mavs won’t have another idle weekend until late November.
Staying out of the box
The need to stay out of the penalty box is something Gabinet said will be addressed.
UNO was whistled for nine penalties Friday night and surrendered three power-play goals. The Mavs were called for seven penalties Saturday, including a pair of 5-minute majors, but managed to hang on for the win.
“There are two kinds of penalties, the unavoidable ones and the ones where you make a conscious decision,” Gabinet said. “We never want to put our team down, especially against a team like that.”
The coach added that the ability to avoid penalties is especially crucial on the road.
“You’ve got to know your environment and make sure you play accordingly,” he said. “We want to play smart so it’s an area we need to keep improving.”
Freshmen coming through
Gabinet said he’s pleased with the early returns from the 12 freshmen on his squad.
“They’re just getting better,” he said. “They’ve really taken to this environment and they’re taking responsibility to keep working on their game.”
He added that the number of quality newcomers fosters a competitive spirit within the team.
“We have a lot of internal competition which I think is a great thing for individual growth,” he said. “They know they have to perform at a certain level to maintain their position in the lineup.”
Freshman Isaiah Saville, the NCHC goaltender of the week, was in net both nights against Ohio State, which included a 37-save performance in Saturday’s 2-1 win.
Other freshmen who contributed last weekend were Joey Abate (game-winning goal Saturday), Ryan Brushett (two assists) and Brandon Scanlin (one assist).
Not quite ranked
UNO isn’t ranked in the Top 20 of either national poll, but the 3-1 Mavs are getting close.
Gabinet’s squad received votes in both polls and would be 21st in the USA Hockey Magazine poll and 22nd in the USCHO.com poll.
Five teams from the NCHC remain ranked for the fourth straight week. Leading the way is Denver, rated No. 1 in both national polls for the second week in a row.
The Mavs won’t face the Pioneers until a home series Jan. 17 and 18.