WCHA Weekend Roundup
The Mavs earn four road points against Bemidji State and climb near the top spot in the WCHA
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 16:01
UNO had played Bemidji State 16 times before the 2012-2013 season. Series-wise the two teams are pretty close with the Beavers holding a 7-6-3 all-time record against the Mavs.
But as UNO fans well know, Bemidji has had the best of the Mavs ever since the two teams joined the WCHA in 2010. In 10 conference matchups prior to this season UNO had won a grand total of one game, a 5-1 victory in Bemidji on Nov. 12, 2011.
It took eight tries before Omaha won a WCHA game against the Beavers. Their best results before that were two ties.
Bemidji had piled up a 5-0-2 record against the Mavs before UNO finally broke through for a win in conference play last season. The win did nothing to break the curse.
Back in Omaha three months later the Beavers earned a 1-1 tie and a 6-4 win. In the first conference series of this season Bemidji came through with similar results, and extended its unbeaten streak against the Mavs to four games.
All of that bad mojo went by the wayside this weekend when UNO went up to Northern Minnesota and swept Bemidji State 5-3 Friday and 2-1 Saturday. Saturday’s win marked the fourth time this year the Mavs have swept a conference series.
UNO also went 2-for-2 at Michigan Tech and at home against Minnesota Duluth and Colorado College. The wins against the Beavers put Omaha back near the top of the WCHA standings.
Only St. Cloud State, who went 1-0-1 at North Dakota, is above the Mavs. The Huskies have 25 conference points, UNO and Minnesota each have 24 and are tied for second place.
North Dakota, Minnesota State and Wisconsin are all tied for fourth with 21 points. Seventh-place Denver and eighth-place Duluth have 20 and 19 points respectively.
Minnesota and Minnesota State split a series played in Minneapolis then Mankato. Both times the road team won.
North Dakota was 0-1-1 hosting St. Cloud and Wisconsin swept Alaska Anchorage at home. Denver and Duluth each had the weekend off though Duluth played at home against the USA Under-18 team.
Of the top half of the WCHA Wisconsin is the hottest. The Badgers started conference play with a win against Duluth but then didn’t win again until a game at Denver on Dec. 1.
At one time Wisconsin was 2-5-5 in the WCHA. Since, the Badgers have gone 6-0, sweeping their last three conference series.
How much that really means is hard to say. Two of those wins were impressive victories on the road at Minnesota State. But the other four are against Anchorage.
With six conference weekends left, there has yet to be anything decided. The top of the conference and eighth place are just six points apart.
This might explain the turnaround success the Mavs had this weekend. Rather than having revenge on the mind, UNO may have been more concerned with the bigger picture.
Some have said Dean Blais’ system just doesn’t work against the slow-it-down, trapping Beavers. Others felt after a few losses Bemidji had developed a distinct mental advantage.
Things certainly seemed to be going that way once again when Bemidji’s Brady Wacker scored off a faceoff just 1:39 into the game. But UNO used its own Beaver-killers, Jaycob Megna and James Polk, to pick up the victory.
Megna tied it 1-1 in the first, and Polk extended the Maverick lead to 3-1 early in the second.
Neither players are known for the goal-scoring prowess.
But of the six goals between them five have come against Bemidji. Megna has put three of his four past the Beavers while Polk has both goals against Bemidji.
Matt White scored two on the night, Johnnie Searfoss added an empty netter and the Mavs beat the Beavers for the first time in almost a year and a half. However, against that team, UNO fans had to suspect a sweep wouldn’t come easily.
UNO again looked to a player who’s had success against Bemidji to provide a spark. The Beavers scored the first goal of the game for the second night in a row.
But like the night before, it took the Mavs just a few minutes to answer. Josh Archibald scored the fifth goal of his career against Bemidji State and the two teams were tied midway through the second period.
Searfoss scored the second of the weekend, late in the second with just 1:56 left to give UNO the lead for good. Seven goals are the most the Mavs have scored in a head-to-head matchup with the Beavers.