Mo paid a visit to World Arena on Friday night, and he came dressed in black.
Tyler Vesel scored two power-play goals, and Omaha weathered a third-period charge from Colorado College for a 5-2 NCHC victory.
The Mavericks (12-8-3, 5-6-0 NCHC) carried a 3-1 lead into the third after Vesel struck for the second time and David Pope added an even-strength tally 2:48 later.
The Tigers (6-13-2, 2-7-2) drew to one back just after a Mavericks’ penalty expired 7:38 into the third, but Omaha salted the game away in the final 2:09.
“Going into Duluth, the No. 2 team in the country and beating and tying them, they had a lot of confidence; it was a game of momentum, we’d have two or three good shifts, then they’d go out and have two or three good shifts,” Mavericks coach Dean Blais said. “When we scored our second power-play goal to go up 3-1 it obviously wasn’t the game because they came back to score after we took an undisciplined penalty.”
With 14:27 left in the game, a scrum ensued after Vesel had been checked into the boards. The Tigers emerged with a power play, but didn’t score until just after it expired when Luc Gerdes looked off the Omaha defense from the left dot and found Mason Bergh alone in virtually the same spot to the right. Bergh beat Kris Oldham (26 saves) short side.
“He rolled the corner and saw me on the peripherals; I just tried to get open and he found me with a great pass,” Bergh said.
The Tigers kept the pressure on but Austin Ortega’s 16th goal of the season gave the Mavericks a 4-2 lead with 2:09 to go, and Luc Snuggerud’s clearing attempt on a late Colorado College power player found the empty net with 1:29 left.
“The game is about momentum,” CC coach Mike Haviland said. “We had momentum and we gave it back with some undisciplined penalties. I thought we started the game well, then took three penalties and they get a power-play goal. The best power play in the (league) and they made us pay.
“Then we come out in the second had some momentum, (Alex Leclerc) made some saves, I thought we had some chances to score. We take a lazy neutral-zone penalty and they make us pay. They get back the momentum. Same thing in the third.”
After the Tigers showed some jump early in the second period and sustained pressure in the offensive zone, the Mavericks gained some breathing room during a 2:48 stretch later in the period.
Vesel struck for his second goal of the game and 12th of the season after cleaning up a rebound in front of Leclerc (23 saves) on a power play at 11:05. Just as they had been on the first Vesel power-play goal, the Tigers were down a man thanks to a hooking penalty.
“I like that we didn’t stop, but we have to play that team five-on-five,” Haviland said. “I thought we took some lazy stick infractions. … We’ve got to skate a little bit more instead of reaching. We hadn’t been doing that lately, and our PK’s been really good the last eight or nine games. Give the best power play in the country six chances and you’re flirting with disaster.”
Pope extended Omaha’s lead to 3-1 with his eighth of the season by drilling a long rebound in the slot past Leclerc. The Tigers struggled to clear the zone during the sequence, and Pope cashed in after Leclerc stopped a series of slap shots, capped by Joel Messner’s blast.
Freshman Branden Makara’s breakaway goal after a turnover near the red line gave the Tigers the game’s first lead 9:19 in.
“I was disappointed in that first goal; he’s a tall kid and his stick came off the ice just a tad. He didn’t have his stick down on the ice hard enough,” Blais said. “He came back and played really well and made four or five really good saves.”
Vesel’s first goal was in contrast to his second as he knotted the score with 7:25 to play in the first by finishing off a picturesque tic-tac-toe play from the slot. Ortega initiated the play by finding Jake Randolph below the goal line, and Randolph hit Vesel on the tape for the first of his two assists.
Colorado College averted further disaster early in the third period when top-scoring defenseman Teemu Kivihalme was stung by a Pope slap shot while killing a penalty. After being helped off the ice, Kivihalme returned and nearly scored in the closing minutes.
Elsewhere, it was a rough night for the league’s highest-ranked teams.
No. 14 Western Michigan 3, No. 1 Denver 0
Junior Frederik Tiffels’ power-play goal 6:28 into the third period was all the Broncos (11-5-3, 5-5-1) needed to knock off the Pioneers (14-5-4, 6-2-3) at Kalamazoo, Mich. Ben Blacker made 24 saves for the shutout, and Chris Dienes and Sheldon Dries added empty-net goals in the final 1:15 to ensure the outcome for Western Michigan. Tanner Jaillet made 27 saves for Denver, which was shut out for the first time this season.
St. Cloud State 2, at No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth 1
Freshman defenseman Jack Ahcan scored two goals — one midway through the first period and another at the halfway mark of the second — to lift the Huskies (10-10-1, 5-7-1) over the host Bulldogs (12-5-4, 8-4-1). Jeff Smith made 41 saves for St. Cloud State, allowing only Riley Tufte’s goal with 6:30 to play in the game. Hunter Miska made 27 saves for Minnesota-Duluth, which saw its winless streak hit three.
Miami 6, at No. 7 North Dakota 3
The RedHawks scored five consecutive goals in the third period to stun the Fighting Hawks (12-7-3, 5-5-1), who carried a 3-1 lead into the period. Anthony Louis, Carson Meyer, Karch Bachman, Ryan Siroky and Louie Belpedio tallied in the third for Miami (8-8-5, 5-4-3). Gordie Green gave the RedHawks a short-lived lead in the first before Christian Wolanin tied it. Brock Boeser and Shane Gersich scored in a 1:32 span early in the second to stake North Dakota to its lead. Ryan Larkin made 30 saves for Miami.