UND's hockey season on the brink after Game 1 loss at Omaha

Goalie Simon Latkoczy stopped 40 of 41 shots to give the Mavericks their first playoff win under sixth-year coach Mike Gabinet.

Omaha goalie Simon Latkoczy makes a save on UND forward Riese Gaber during Game 1 of their NCHC quarterfinal playoff series on March 10, 2023.
Mark Kuhlmann / UND athletics

OMAHA, Neb. — Riese Gaber started putting his hands up to celebrate.

He thought he scored a second goal in the final 80 seconds to tie UND's National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoff game against Omaha in dramatic fashion.

The goal judge turned on the red light.

Jake Schmaltz pointed at the goal.

But the puck did not go in the net. Gaber's wrist shot from the right circle hit the bottom of the crossbar, ricocheted straight down in the crease, kicked wide and out of harm's way.


Seconds later, Omaha sealed a 2-1 win in Game 1 of the best-of-three series in Baxter Arena.

"Game of inches," Gaber said. "It hit dead on and went straight down. Maybe do that again and it goes crossbar and in. It's unfortunate but it is what it is."

Now, UND's season is on the brink.

The Fighting Hawks cannot lose another game this season or it's over, starting with Game 2 against the Mavericks at 7:07 p.m. Saturday.

"There are absolutely no excuses," Gaber said. "We have to come out of the gates blazing. When we do that, we have success. We've seen that this season against these guys and many other teams. There are no excuses and we'll be ready for puck drop tomorrow."

Omaha freshman goalie Simon Latkoczy, who allowed five goals to UND a week earlier, was outstanding in Game 1, stopping 40 of 41 shots.

He received goal support from a pair of defensemen. Rookie Jacob Guevin scored at 4:29 of the second period, then Guevin set up Davis Pennington 2:31 later for a two-goal lead.

Omaha is now one win away from an elusive trip to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff.


The Mavericks are the only team in the league that have never been there. They're 3-15 all-time in the NCHC playoffs. Friday marked their first playoff win under sixth-year coach Mike Gabinet (1-7).

The Mavericks (19-13-3) have not reached the semifinals of a conference tournament since 2001, when they were in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

"You could tell they were an urgent team," UND coach Brad Berry said. "I thought the first five minutes, they came out, set the tone and we didn't answer. This is playoff hockey and at the end of the day, we had to have a better first period. I thought we settled in (during) the second and third. You have to start on time and that team started on time."

UND dropped to 16-14-6.

After the game, Berry looked to two major reasons for the Game 1 loss.

No. 1: UND's poor start. The Fighting Hawks allowed 17 shots on goal in the first period alone. The only reason they came out of it unscathed was because of goaltender Drew DeRidder (26 saves).

"It was a slow start by us," Gaber said. "At this point in the season, that can't be happening. It's everyone, me included. It just comes down to moving our feet, playing physical, getting on pucks quick and we didn't do that tonight."

No. 2: The Fighting Hawks, who have the NCAA's top power play, went 0-for-3 with the advantage and squandered a :59 five-on-three in the second period.


"We call a timeout; we win a draw back," Berry said of the two-man advantage. "We can't execute a D-to-D play to get it to the net. I don't think we got very many good looks off of it. Those are situations you have to capitalize in the playoffs here. Specialty teams are a huge deal and I thought we weren't sharp on our power play."

UND finally broke through with an extra attacker.

Gaber sniped a shot over Latkoczy's glove with 1:14 left. It was his 20th goal of the season. Gaber became the first UND player to score 20 in a season since Shane Gersich in 2016-17.

He also had another chance to tie it, but it hit the crossbar.

The Fighting Hawks outshot the Mavericks 30-11 in the final two periods.

"Both goaltenders were very good," Berry said. "That's playoff goaltending right there. When you have goaltending like that, you have to capitalize offensively.

"(DeRidder) gave us a chance early in the game to keep playing as far as staying in the game. He made some key saves in the first period, then I thought we got to their goaltender, and he was equally as good. We have a situation where our goaltending is playing well right now. We have to make the best of it."

UND will have to win back-to-back road playoff games — a tall task considering the program hasn't won one since 1995.


UND is 0-5 since then, losing twice at Minnesota in 2002, twice at Denver in 2019 and Friday night.

"We have another opportunity tomorrow," Gaber said. "We're not dead yet. We have an opportunity to come back and win a game and force a Game 3. Nothing's set in stone. We still have an opportunity and we'll be ready for it."

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at
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