COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In a game it desperately needed, UNO responded with a big performance.
Six Mavericks scored in a dominant 6-1 victory over Colorado College on Saturday at World Arena that snapped a four-game losing streak and sent the No. 12 team into an off week on a positive note.
UNO (16-9-1) bounced back from a 5-1 Friday defeat at the hands of the Tigers (6-19-1), the last-place team in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, to earn a series split with a runaway win.
“We dominated the game from start to finish,” coach Dean Blais said. “It was a big character check.”
The Mavs, who improved to 6-9-1 in the NCHC, had dropped six of their last seven games before racing to a 6-0 advantage Saturday. They limited Colorado College to 12 shots on goal in the series finale.
At one point in the second period, UNO had five goals while the Tigers had five shots on goal.
“It’s always nice to see that,” Mavs defenseman Ian Brady said. “Playing in the offensive zone is always good. I thought we had really good gaps today. We really didn’t let them into our zone. And once they did get in, we had good breakouts. We broke it up pretty quickly. It was a good all-around game.”
Brady assisted on three UNO goals in the win, and freshman Mason Morelli recorded a goal and a pair of helpers. Morelli helped set up classmate Jordan Klehr’s first career goal in the opening period to start the night.
The Mavs improved to 15-1-1 in games in which they score first. They are only 1-8 when they don’t.
“Scoring the first goal of the game for us is huge,” Morelli said. “It’s a key, obviously. The stats have said that if we don’t score first, we lose. It was big that everyone was working hard tonight. Everyone bought in.”
Klehr’s goal came during 4-on-4 play just moments after Justin Parizek hit the crossbar on a shorthanded rush. Luc Snuggerud then scored on a power play 86 seconds later to put the Mavs up 2-0 after one.
Steven Spinner, Jake Guentzel, Morelli and Parizek all found the net during a four-goal second as UNO extended its lead to an insurmountable 6-0 margin. The Mavs chased Colorado College goaltender Jacob Nehama after four goals, then recorded two more against Tyler Marble before the second period ended.
Evan Weninger needed only 11 stops to earn his first victory in net for the Mavs since Dec. 19. The Tigers got their only goal against him, scored by Hunter Fejes, after the freshman had a six-goal cushion.
Blais was pleased with the way UNO responded one night after it lost 38 battles for pucks along the boards in Friday’s loss. He was concerned about the play of his freshman forwards, in particular.
Morelli said the Mavs got the message, and he felt they responded to it well.
“That was kind of the center of everything,” he said. “Coach Blais just sat us down and said that was unacceptable. We can’t be losing battles like that. ... I think we did a pretty good job of that tonight.”
Austin Ortega and Luke Nogard each had two assists in the win, and Spinner had a goal and an assist.
The victory pulled the Mavs back into a three-way tie for fourth in the league with Minnesota Duluth and Miami. A fifth straight loss would’ve dropped them into a tie with Colorado College for sixth.
Blais said that would’ve led to “a really ugly week of practice.” Instead, his team got a confidence boost heading into its week off, which will open a month in which it plays six consecutive games at home.
“We had to end this run of losses,” he said. “You can use all the excuses you want. But the bottom line is, (a loss) is a loss. Playing good and losing doesn’t mean a whole lot at this time of the year. We need those points.”
UNO (16-9-1, 6-9-1) ............................................... 2 4 0—6
At Colorado College (6-19-1, 4-11-1) .................... 0 1 0—1
First period: 1, UNO, Jordan Klehr (Ryan Galt, Mason Morelli) 4:48. 2, UNO, Luc Snuggerud (Ian Brady, Austin Ortega) 6:14 (power play).
Second period: 3, UNO, Steven Spinner (Morelli, Luke Nogard) 1:34. 4, UNO, Jake Guentzel (Brady, Ortega) 11:20. 5, UNO, Morelli (Nogard, Spinner) 14:05. 6, UNO, Justin Parizek (Brian Cooper, Brady) 16:48. 7, CC, Hunter Fejes (Tanner Ockey, Nate Kwiecinski) 18:52.
Shots on goal:
UNO ........................................... 8 10 8—26
Colorado College ........................................... 3 5 4—12
Power plays: UNO 2-6, CC 0-3.
Penalties-minutes: UNO 5-18, CC 7-25.
Goalies: UNO, Evan Weninger (12 shots, 11 saves, 59:40). CC, Jacob Nehama (12 shots, 8 saves, 31:20), Tyler Marble (6 shots, 4 saves, 8:40), Derek Shatzer (8 shots, 8 saves, 20:00).
Three stars: 1, Mason Morelli. 2, Ian Brady. 3, Luke Nogard.
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