ASNetminding: Omaha rallies after nut allergy sidelines top scorer

Austin Ortega’s late scratch from Omaha’s lineup at St. Cloud State this past Saturday may be one of the most unusual of this hockey season.

He bit into an oatmeal raisin cookie following the Mavs’ pregame dinner at the hotel they were staying at and unbeknownst to him, discovered the cookie contained walnuts.

His allergy to tree nuts immediately took over.

“As soon as he bit into it he walked over to the trainer and sat down,” Omaha hockey SID Dave Ahlers said. “When you have a tree nut allergy it doesn’t take long to figure out what’s happening. Believe me, I know. I have the same allergy and it’s not fun.”

Tree nut allergies tend to be lifelong, according to WebMD, and in severe cases it can cause anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic response marked by swelling, hives, lowered blood pressure, and dilated blood vessels. In severe cases, a person will go into shock. If anaphylactic shock isn't treated immediately, it can be fatal.

Fortunately, Ortega noticed the walnuts almost immediately. He ended up missing the Mavs’ 7-2 road win over the Huskies that earned them a series split after lacing up for the pregame skate.

At the time, losing the No. 3 goal scorer in the nation (12) and the leader in game-winning goals (5) seemed like it would be a devastating blow for a UNO team that has been unbeatable at home (6-0) and on the road (6-3-1).

But adversity breeds opportunity and after falling 4-1 in the road series opener Friday night — and losing Ortega’s linemate Jake Guentzel (24 points, third in the nation) to injury less than 10 minutes into Saturday’s game — the Mavs put together their best offensive showing of the season in a 7-2 rout.

“The young guys really stepped up,” Ahlers said. “We finished that game with one senior and two juniors in the lineup. Everyone else was a freshmen or sophomore. We had two guys, Mason Morelli and Ryan Galt, score their first goals of their collegiate career.”

The seven goals were a season high for the Mavs, as were the 20 points on the night. The power play was also effective, scoring on three of five attempts.

The win also kept a unique streak alive: The team that has scored first in every Mavericks game has gone on to win.

“We’re 12-0-1 when we score first and 0-3 when we don’t,” Ahlers said. “It is an interesting stat.”

The Mavs have plenty of time to get healthy. They don’t play again until Dec. 19-20 when they host Arizona State in a non-conference bout. The next game won’t be until a Jan. 2 exhibition and then back to NCHC play with a home series against Denver on Jan. 8-9.
Most of the time, if there is a good time for a bad injury, it’s this time of year when most teams are about to shut down for the Christmas break.

Not so for Providence sophomore defenseman Jake Walman. The nation’s leading scorer for defenseman with 11 goals and eight assists, Walman injured his shoulder going into the boards in the third period of Saturday’s 4-0 win over 16th-ranked Merrimack.

The injury is severe enough to force him to withdraw from the chance to be on the Canada National Junior Team. He was one of 30 players invited to take part of Canada’s select camp slated for the end of this week in Ontario. Boston University sophomore defenseman Brian Hickey is the only other collegiate player asked to tryout for Team Canada’s squad.

He will also miss Thursday’s game against 2-6-3 Brown. The 11-0-3 Friars don’t play again until the Florida College Hockey Classic Dec. 28-29. Cornell, Boston College and Ohio State will also be competing.

Losing Walman for any extended amount of time would be a huge blow for the nation’s top-ranked team. The 6-1, 193-pounder played in all 41 games as a freshman during last season’s national title run and anchors a unit that leads the nation with 21 goals from the blue line.
North Dakota, Boston College and Boston University each had two players selected to the 29-player preliminary roster for the 2016 U.S. National Junior Team that was announced Monday.

In all, 13 U.S. college hockey players were selected to attend the training camp scheduled for Dec. 14-18 at Boston University, followed by an additional camp in Viermaki, Finland Dec. 19-24. The final 23-man roster will be named Dec. 24 for the Team USA team that will compete in the 2016 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Helsinki, Finland.

Most players will miss one series for their college teams after the holidays.

Hockey East leads all conferences with five selections: Anders Bjork of Notre Dame; Casey Fitzgerald and Colin White of Boston College; and Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Fortunate of Boston University.

The NCHC has four players selected to the team — North Dakota’s Brock Boeser and Nick Schmaltz, Miami’s Louie Belpedio and St. Cloud’s Will Borgen.

The WCHA is represented by Ryan Collins of Minnesota and Zach Werenski of Michigan, while the ECAC as Ryan Donato of Harvard and Ryan Hitchcock of Yale.

Team USA placed fifth in the tournament last year. Ron Wilson will coach this year’s squad, which will compete in a group with Canada, Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden.

All games will be televised on the NHL Network.

Sweden, meanwhile, named three NCAA players to its preliminary roster: Hockey East’s William Lagesson of Massachusetts, and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson of Boston University, and the NCHC’s Fredrik Olofsson of Omaha.
Quinnipiac is picking up speed in its quest for the top spot in the hockey polls.

According to Pairwise the Bobcats have had the toughest schedule in college hockey so far and are 15-0-2 with wins over St. Cloud State, Yale and Harvard, the latter ECAC rival games each ending in 3-0 and 4-0 shutouts, respectively.

Providence, 11-0-3, earned 39 of 50 first-place votes in the USCHO poll and 20 of 36 in the USA poll. Qunnipiac received 10 and 14, respectively, with fourth-ranked North Dakota picking up its first No. 1 vote in nearly a month after it dismantled Denver 5-1 and 4-0.

Boston College remains at No. 3 despite struggling to a 3-3 overtime tie and a 4-3 win against 2-12-3 Northeastern with a three-goal, third-period rally.

The biggest mover was Cornell, which jumped five places to 10th after topping St. Lawrence, 2-1, and Clarkson, 5-2. UMass Lowell, which was swept by UConn, 5-10-0, slipped from fifth to eighth while Yale slipped from 10th to 15th in both polls.
The No. 2-ranked Boston University women’s hockey team (19-0) swept Maine behind Alex Carpenter’s two goals and four assists. The six-point weekend gives her sole possession of the Hockey East scoring record with 136 points in 74 career games. With half the season yet to play, she has 67 goals and 69 assists for her career.

That she’ll keep the title of Hockey East’s career scoring leader isn’t set in stone, not even for this season. Northeastern rival Kendall Coyne, whom Carpenter is tied with for the national lead in goals scored this season with 23, has 134 career points in league games, 114 are goals.

It’s a scoring race that likely won’t be decided until the final game of the season.
The final numbers for the NCHC officials’ fundraising for Movember are in and they raised more than five times than last season.

NCHC supervisor of official Don Adam said the hair-raising experience brought in $5,223 and the furry-faced group of 36 finished 336th in raising funds for men’s health issues and awareness.


  • New Hampshire sophomore Andrew Poturalski is quietly putting together one of the best campaigns of the season. He scored two goals in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Maine to give him 14 goals and 30 points — both tops in the nation. The Wildcats are 5-6-4, their latest tie came Friday when goalie Danny Tirone made a career-high 50 saves.

  • Alaska Anchorage got an improbable road sweep at then-No. 17 Michigan Tech last weekend behind sophomore goalie Olivier Mantha’s 62 saves back-to-back 3-2 victories.

  • Duluth’s Austin Farley is on fire of late, notching two goals and four assists in the Bulldogs’ 7-0, 6-2 sweep over Western Michigan. The senior forward has 13 points in the past four games, all UMD victories.

  • Keep an eye on Duluth’s special teams this weekend against North Dakota. The Bulldogs scored on seven of 12 chances last weekend against the Broncos. UND was 10-for-10 on penalty kills last week against Denver.

  • Since returning from an injury two weeks ago, North Dakota sophomore goalie Cam Johnson has been nearly perfect. Last weekend he led No. 4 North Dakota to a sweep over No. 9 Denver by turning back 22 shots in a 5-1 victory and 18 in Saturday’s 4-0 win. He hasn’t allowed a goal in 98 minutes, 38 seconds.

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