#7 North Dakota Fighting Hawks (10-6-3, 3-4-1) vs. #18 Omaha Mavericks (11-6-3, 4-4-0)
Friday January 6th 7:07 p.m. / Saturday January 7th 7:07 p.m.
@ Baxter Arena Omaha, NE
It's January, it's cold outside, it's hockey season and Omaha Maverick fans don't have to wait long to get an exciting series at Baxter Arena to kick off the new year. 2017 gets started with defending national champion, North Dakota, coming to Omaha for a Friday/Saturday NCHC showdown. The Mavericks are currently sitting in 5th place in the always competitive 8 team NCHC with UND trailing by a point . Both teams have had their share of ups and downs in the first half of the season but January marks the all important conference grind.
Omaha finished 2016 going 4-1-1 and a big reason for that is they are finally healthy. Key players such as Justin Parizek, Fredrik Olofsson, David Pope, and Ian Brady all missed significant playing time but are all back and making an impact. That will need to be the case this weekend against the Fighting Hawks. Senior Austin Ortega leads the Mavs with 14 goals and is currently tied for the NCAA record with 23 career game-winning goals.
North Dakota will bring another solid team into Baxter Arena although 2 out of their 3 top scorers have missed time recently. Brock Boesser is coming off of minor wrist surgery and will be a game time decision. Tyson Jost is making a quick turnaround from having just played for Team Canada in the World Junior Championship on Thursday night. Former Omaha Lancer, Shane Gersich has had a great season in leading UND with 14 goals and 25 total points.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: UNO has ignited it's power play this season converting 27% of their opportunities ranking them 2nd in the NCAA. If Omaha can continue it's power play success, that could play a big role in this matchup.
BETWEEN THE PIPES: Cam Johnson (UND) is amongst the best in the NCHC with 10 wins (2nd) and Goals Against Average (2.10) He also was a key component during the Fighting Hawk's national title run in 2016.
Evan Wenninger has also put himself amongst the best in the league with 7 wins (4th) and a 2.52 Goals Against Average. Wenninger battled an ankle injury last season but is healthy and turning out solid efforts as of late.
THE SERIES: North Dakota leads the all-time series over UNO with a 7-12-1 advantage. The Fighting Hawks are 3-7-0 in Omaha.