Frozen Four Preview 2015: Nebraska-Omaha


One thing college hockey is very good at doing is revealing to the world Division One programs in the Frozen Four  that people don’t think of. Union won the title last season, for example. This year’s team-out-of-the-middle-of-nowhere is the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks.

This is the first time the Mavs have ever made the Frozen Four. They face the Providence Friars, a Hockey East team, who haven’t made the final tournament in 30 years.

The Mavericks had a strong regular season, going 20-12-6, good for third place in their conference, the NCHC. The same conference of the #1 seeded North Dakota on the other side of the Frozen Four bracket.

Omaha was swept in their conference tournament by the eventual champion St. Cloud State Huskies. They advanced to the Frozen Four anyways, where they beat another Hockey East club, Harvard, 4-1. After that, they shocked the RIT Tigers with a four goal third period to advance to this game against Providence.

Ryan Massa has been their MVP between the pipes. Other than Zane McIntyre with North Dakota, he has been the best goalie in the tournament. He stopped 73 of the 74 shots he faced between Harvard and RIT in the midwest regional. Now he has an interesting challenge with the Friars; in fact, all of Omaha does.

Providence isn’t a scoring juggernaut by any means, but they absolutely own the possession game in every single game they play. Omaha is exactly the opposite, and they’ve relied on Massa a ton because of this.

The difference in the tournament for the Mavericks is while their offense has just eeked by some decent teams, now they face a tough goaltender and defense every where they go. Jon Gillies from Providence has been stellar in net and he’s trying to impress his NHL club, the Calgary Flames. If Omaha wins this game they face either McIntyre or Boston University goaltender Matt O’Connor who has also been red hot.

Omaha might not be flashy or particularly good at offense, but they have Jake Guentzel, who has 38 points and the most of any player on any team in the tournament except for the exceptionally strong Boston University.

Even the first game will be an uphill battle for the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks. They certainly belong here, but they are the ultimate underdogs. With the gauntlet of teams and strong defenses they will have to face, one thing is absolutely clear; if the Mavericks win the championship, they will have earned it.

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