MINNEAPOLIS - In a battle of six-game unbeaten streaks, the No. 3 Minnesota men's hockey team came up short on Friday night, falling 3-2 to No. 13/14 Omaha at Mariucci Arena in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association series opener.
Minnesota (9-3-2 overall, 4-3-2 WCHA) entered the night unbeaten in its last six games, but the Mavericks would close out the month of November with a perfect 7-0-0 mark after rallying from a one-goal deficit after the first period. Friday's loss marks the first time this season Minnesota has suffered a loss when leading after the first period (6-1-0).
Omaha (9-3-1, 5-1-1) struck first on Friday night when Dominic Zombo notched his fifth goal of the season at 4:17 with an assist from Josh Achibald. Archibald factored into all three Omaha goals on Friday night - adding a second assist on Jaycob Megna's power-play goal at 11:51 of the second before tallying the game winner 4:43 into the third period. Ryan Walters earned assists on both of the Mavericks' final two scores.
The Gophers appeared ready to break this young rivalries trend of road-team advantage (the visiting team has now won each of the six all-time meetings between Omaha and Minnesota) with a pair of goals in the first period. Zach Budish evened the game at 1-1 with his fourth of the season at 5:40 after being set up by Sam Warning and Erik Haula, and Christian Isackson snapped a 12-game goal drought dating back to the season opener on Oct. 12 with his second goal of the year at 15:12 of the opening stanza after being fed by Nick Bjugstad and Nate Schmidt. Warning's assist came in the forward's first game back since Oct. 20 - a nine-game stretch due to injury.
The first period lead didn't last, however, as the Gophers put just 11 shots on goal in the game's final 40 minutes after 10 shots in the first period. Friday's loss marks just the second time this season that Minnesota was outshot (27-21) while the Gophers' 21 shots were a season low.
Adam Wilcox (8-2-2) suffered his first loss since Nov. 3 on Friday night for the Gophers, making 24 saves. His Maverick counterpart - John Faulkner - remained unbeaten this season with 19 saves to move to 8-0-1.
Minnesota returns to action on Saturday with the series finale against the Mavericks. Game time at Mariucci Arena is set for 7 p.m.