It seemed like a dream scenario for Omaha, which hosted the NCHC bubble and only had to play seven of its 24 regular season games away from Baxter Arena.
The Mavericks finished 10-6-1 at Baxter Arena, and they rode that to NCAA Tournament qualification, but UNO was pounded by Minnesota in the first round of the Division I regionals, 7-2.
But Nebraska-Omaha has every one of its top 14 scorers from 2020-21 back as well as both goalies, so there’s no reason the Mavericks shouldn’t again finish in the top half of the standings.
View From the Glass takes a look at Omaha in Part V of its seven-part, NCHC Snapshot series:
NCAA TITLES: None.
COACH: Mike Gabinet (fifth season, 54-69-11, .444).
2020-21 RECORD: 14-11-1 (14-9-1, NCHC, fourth place).
RINK (capacity): Baxter Arena (7,898).
MIAMI VS. OMAHA LAST SEASON: 1-1.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 26-20-7.
2021-22 SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: At Omaha – Nov. 5-6; at Miami – Feb. 11-12.
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: F Chayse Primeau, F Tyler Weiss, F Taylor Ward, F Kevin Conley, D Brandon Scanlin, D Jason Smallidge, G Isaiah Saville, G Austin Roden.
KEY NEW FACES: F Cameron Berg, D Victor Mancini, D Davis Pennington.
KEY LOSSES: None.
NOTES: It’s extremely rare for a Division I team to retain almost every significant player from one year to the next, but Omaha has not only accomplished that, it has added several potential stars.
Chayse Primeau, Tyler Weiss, Taylor Ward and Kevin Conley were UNO’s studs up front last season, with all registering at least 19 points in the team’s 26 games.
Primeau, son of former NHL regular Wayne Primeau, and Weiss – a Colorado draftee – tied for the team lead in points with 23.
Ward led the team with 13 goals and finished third in points (22). Conley is back for his graduate senior season after logging 124 games and tallying 66 points.
On defense, Brandon Scanlin (2-15-17), Jason Smallidge (2-11-13), Nate Knoepke (6-12-18 in four seasons) and Jonny Tychonick (Ottawa draftee, 3-5-8) have all logged at least 60 games with Omaha.
In net, it will again be Isaiah Saville, who has logged 2,908 minutes in two pandemic-shortened seasons, and Austin Roden, who impressed in a small sample size last season.
Both are sophomores, and Saville is 22-22-5 with a 2.93 goals-against average and .907 save percentage, and Roden has played 818 minutes, going 6-6-1 with a 2.86 GAA and .909 save percentage, including a .914 clip in 2020-21, so he may log more ice time this season.
Junior Jacob Zab is the team’s third goalie despite not having played a collegiate game.
Omaha does add three key recruits, one up front and two on defense.
Freshman forward Cameron Berg, a New York Islanders’ draftee, had a monstrous year for Muskegon, going 27-31-58.
Blueliner Davis Pennington, a Berg teammate at Muskegon, notched 30 points last season.
Victor Mancini is a wild card, as the 6-feet-4 D-man has played most of the last two campaigns in Sweden but still has 36 USHL games under his belt despite being just 19 years old, registering 13 points.
Despite all of its struggles in recent seasons, Miami is 5-1-1 vs. the Mavericks in these teams’ last seven meetings.
This series seems to run in streaks, as Nebraska-Omaha was 7-1-1 in the previous nine matchups leading up to the RedHawks’ recent run.