Omaha’s 2018-19 season was its worst in 15 years, but last year Mike Gabinet’s Mavericks bounced back from that nine-win campaign to a .458 winning percentage and sixth-place finish.
And UNO appears poised to take another step forward, with most of its offensive weapons back, a starting goalie coming off a stellar rookie season and a schedule that has the Mavericks playing 18 of 26 games in their home rink.
Part V of our seven-part, NCHC opponent snapshot series focuses on the Mavericks.
NCAA TITLES: None.
COACH: Mike Gabinet (fourth season, 40-58-10, .417).
2019-20 RECORD: 14-17-5 (8-13-3 NCHC, sixth place).
RINK (capacity): Baxter Arena (7,898), Omaha, Neb.
MIAMI VS. OMAHA LAST SEASON: 3-0-1.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 25-19-7.
2020-21 SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Two bubble games in Omaha: Dec. 5 (5:05 p.m.) and Dec. 12 (9:05 p.m.).
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: F Taylor Ward, F Kevin Conley, F Tyler Weiss, F Chayse Primeau, G Isaiah Saville.
KEY NEW FACES: D Jordan Klehr, D Nolan Krenzen, F Jimmy Glynn, F Matt Miller, F Kaden Bohlsen.
KEY LOSSES: D Ryan Jones, D Dean Stewart, F Teemu Pulkkinen, F Zach Jordan.
NOTES: Omaha’s offense again appears be a strength, as the team was 17th in the NCAA in goals, and all four of its top scorers from 2019-20 are back.
Taylor Ward and Kevin Conley tied for the team lead in points with 27, with Ward leading the team with 16 goals.
Colorado draft pick Tyler Weiss also returns after posting a 4-18-22 line last season, and Chayse Primeau – son of former NHLer Wayne Primeau – notched eight goals and 12 assists.
Other key returnees up front include a trio of sophomores that all tallied at least 16 points as rookies. Joey Abate scored nine times, including four game winners, Tyler Brushett finished second on the team with 16 assists, and Nolan Sullivan went 7-10-17 and led the team with 47 PIMs.
UNO is adding four freshmen forwards, including wide bodies Matt Miller and Kaden Bohlsen.
On defense, five Mavericks return after logging at least 25 games in 2019-20, but two of its three double-digit points producer have graduated.
Sophomore Brandon Scanlin led the team in defenseman points (14) and assists (11). Jason Smallidge, a junior, stepped up last season and was tops in blueliner goals with four.
Kirby Proctor, Nate Knoepke and John Schult also return. All five are at least 6-feet, 2-inches.
Goaltender and Vegas selection Isaiah Saville went 10-11-4 with a 2.85 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage last season as a freshman.
Austin Roden played 28 percent of the minutes in net for UNO and also finished with a .907 save percentage and a slightly higher 2.87 GAA.
All three Mavericks netminders are sophomores.
Miami played well vs. UNO last season, earning five points in the weekend series at Baxter Arena and shutting them out twice in Oxford.
They’ll play early in 2020-21, with their lone two meetings coming in the bubble Dec. 5 and 12.