It took a while, but UNO finally got its win Monday night against the University of Manitoba.
The Mavericks posted a 4-3 victory in a season-opening exhibition hockey game at Baxter Arena. The contest was tied at the end of regulation and stayed that way through two five-minute overtimes.
The game then went to a sudden-death shootout, which began with a goal by UNO’s Taylor Ward. Freshman goalie Austin Roden then denied Manitoba’s Lucas Skrumeda to clinch the win.
“I thought it was a positive that the game went so long because we got to practice some different scenarios,’’ Mavs coach Mike Gabinet said. “The more minutes, the better.’’
For an exhibition game, UNO ended up playing 70 minutes plus. But Ward, who also scored a first-period goal, said it was a positive end to a long night.
“I was just happy that we got the win,’’ he said. “I’m glad we gave the fans a good show.’’
The Mavs, who are 12-2-1 against Manitoba in an exhibition series that dates to 1997, fell behind the Bisons early. Keaton Jameson fired a shot past the glove of freshman goalie Isaiah Saville to put UNO down 1-0.
The Mavs responded with two goals later in the period. Teemu Pulkkinen jammed home a shot from close range, and Ward cut in front of the net and put a backhand past Manitoba starter Tyler Brown.
Pulkkinen had a hat trick in a win over Manitoba last year.
“I don’t know why I’ve had success against them,’’ he said. “I’m playing with good guys and just trying to score.’’
UNO defenseman John Schuldt made it 3-1 early in the second period, but Manitoba got that one back six minutes later when Skrumeda knocked home a rebound.
The Bisons tied the game with 6:37 left in regulation when Sean Christensen’s pass in front banked off UNO defenseman Colby Enns past Roden.
The score remained 3-3 through the two overtimes, the second consisting of 3-on-3 hockey. The Mavs had several scoring chances but couldn’t put anything past goalie Jeremy Link.
Ward, UNO’s top returning scorer, finally ended it in the shootout.
“Taylor put the puck in the net,’’ Gabinet said. “Even though it was an exhibition, we still wanted to win.’’
The coach said the Mavs will learn from the game heading into their season opener Friday night at home against Alabama Huntsville.
“There are some things we need to clean up,’’ he said. “But overall there were a lot of positives tonight.’’
The Mavs played without team captain Dean Stewart, who is nursing a lower-body injury. Gabinet said his availability is questionable for the season-opening series this weekend.
Manitoba....1 1 1 0 0—3
At UNO.......2 1 0 0 1—4
First period: 1, M, Keaton Jameson (Mitchell Dyck, Jonah Wasylak), 7:54. 2, UNO, Teemu Pulkkinen (Ryan Jones, Taylor Ward), 12:54. 3, UNO, Taylor Ward (Ryan Brushett, Teemu Pulkkinen), 17:19.
Second period: 4, UNO, John Schuldt (Kevin Conley, Joey Abate), 4:27. 5, M, Lucas Skrumeda (Colton Veloso), 10:53.
Third period: M, Sean Christensen (unassisted), 13:23.
First overtime: No scoring.
Second overtime: No scoring.
Shootout: UNO, Taylor Ward.
Shots on goal
Manitoba....4 14 7 3 3—31
UNO.........14 9 14 3 8—48
Saves: M, Tyler Brown 16, Jeremy Link 29. UNO, Isaiah Saville 6, Roden 22.
Power play: M 0-2; UNO 0-2.
Three stars: 1, Taylor Ward, UNO; 2, Teemu Pulkkinen, UNO; 3, Jonah Wasylak, Manitoba.