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OMAHA, Neb. — In a wild offensive explosion, and led by a hat trick from Dominic Zombo, Nebraska-Omaha topped No. 5 St. Cloud Stat, 8-6.
The first period was telling of what would be goals gone wild. UNO started the first period in quick and aggressive fashion with an odd angled strike from Justin Parizek for his first career goal at 2:33 of the first period. Just a few minutes later, another UNO goal came from Brock Montpetit, assisted by Austin Ortega at 4:36.
After scoring a power-play goal at 7:15, St. Cloud gained momentum and scored the next two to take a 3-2 lead. Kalle Kossila scored first on a power play, Jimmy Murray scored the next, and then Kossila scored another.
“The guys weren’t intense coming into the game,” UNO coach Dean Blais said. “We knew we had to finish checks and you can’t give St. Cloud any time and space. But when it’s 2-0, we take a five-minute major, they score one but you’re tiring out eight penalty killers.”
Freshman goalie Reed Peters came in to replace UNO’s other freshman goalie Kirk Thompson, who had allowed three goals on 12 shots.
“I didn’t necessarily think Kirk had played all that bad but disappointed that … he had to make one of those two saves on the second or third goal; he’s got to make one of those two saves,” Blais said. “It’s three goals in 12 shots I’m going to pull anyone. I would pull an NHL goaltender.”
Early in the second, Nick Seeler shot a rocket from the blue line that hugged the ice all the way to the back of the net to tie the game at 3:26 in the second period.
Zombo gave UNO a 4-3 lead with his first strike at 720, but at 10:10, David Morley finished his rebound effort to tie it back up at four.
At 12:46, Zombo scored his second goal on a bizarre odd-angled shot, shooting midway between the faceoff dot and UNO’s bench and beating Ryan Faragher, who was pulled after the goal.
“I have no idea how we got the momentum back and then had such a poor second period,” St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said. “That was the disappointment, of how poor of a second period we had, and we lost every battle, they beat us to the point of impact, and we were just not moving our feet at all. We made it very easy for them, and then you see in the third, we’re moving our feet and came out with a much better attitude in the third.”
The Huskies struck first in the third, as Kossila got his hat trick at the 3:12 mark. UNO responded when Zahn Raubenheimer scored on a shot similar to Parizek’s.
St. Cloud pulled Lindgren and put Faragher back in but Zombo scored to get his hat trick at 10:03 to put UNO up 7-5. Brock Montpetit then scored his second goal of the game three minutes later to ice the game.
Cory Thorson scored for St. Cloud at 17:57, but UNO hung on to win 8-6.
“There was a lot of questionable goaltending going on, that’s for sure; You’ve got to tip your hat to Omaha, because they came out and played really hard, and we weathered the storm in the first and hunkered back in there,” Motzko said. “(But) in the second period, we just were disinterested, we wanted it to be an easy game, and we came out in the third ready to play. We played hard in the third, but you give up a couple goals like we gave up, and that was demoralizing for us.”
UNO’s eight goals mark its highest total of the season, with their previously highest being six. The highest amount of goals the Huskies had allowed prior to Saturday’s matchup against UNO was five.
“It’s really the bounce of the puck sometimes; sometimes you have very little puck luck and tonight we got a few bounces, a few breaks,” Blais said. “Hard to blame the goaltending because we hit three pipes too. Funny game up and down the ice.”
St. Cloud State will go on to face Denver back at home this weekend. UNO will hit the road to face North Dakota.