Mavericks vs Mavericks in first-ever WCHA home series


November 5th, 2010

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Update: The Mavericks swept Minnesota State-Mankato with two decisive wins: 5-1 Friday and 5-2 Saturday.

The Mavericks' Johnnie Searfoss led the team with two goals Friday night (Photo courtesy UNO Athletics)

Omaha, NE – The Nebraska-Omaha hockey team gets back in action Friday, Nov. 5, following an idle weekend.  The series with Minnesota State-Mankato is significant for more than just one reason – it’s is a first for the Mavericks.

UNO plays its first ever conference home game as a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. UNO spent 11 years as a member of the Central Collegiate Hockey association, but switched to the WCHA before this season.

The new environment hasn’t slowed progress at all, as UNO has jumped out to a 5 and 1 start, with their only loss coming on October 23rd at sixth-ranked Michigan. The praise has been high for Coach Dean Blais and his boys. They are currently ranked eighth in the nation by the United States College Hockey Organization.

“We swept Minnesota in our first ever WCHA games,” Blais said. “You never can get really high expectations in this league because it’s who wants it the most. It’s hard to tell until you get actually into the game.”

That first series win over Minnesota came on the opening weekend of WCHA play, when the Mavericks visited the Gophers at Mariucci Arena.  A different school from Minnesota provides this weekend’s opponent. The team from Mankato also claims the Maverick as its mascot. The dueling monikers have given rise to the “Spirit of the Maverick,” a traveling trophy awarded to the winner of the UNO-Minnesota State series each year. UNO and Mankato have played each year since the 2001-02 season, but the trophy has been around since 1998.

David Ahlers, the play-by-play voice of UNO hockey, has been witness to some of the rivalry between the two Maverick squads. “I think that whenever you get together with a school that you’ve been playing a long time there’s certainly a little more animosity,” Ahlers said. “The history brings back some of the memories of past battles, and I think that’s what makes this so much of an exciting weekend.”

When the puck drops at 7:37 p.m. on Friday, and at 7:07 p.m on Saturday, you can hear David along with color commentator Terry Leahy calling the action on Classical 90.7 KVNO.

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