OMAHA, Neb. -- It was a road game Friday night, but it may have felt a bit like home for UND.

The Fighting Hawks returned to Baxter Arena, where they have now played 13 of their last 19 games.

There were some UND fans among the 1,429 fans in the building, and yes, the dogs returned to the place where they became UND's good-luck charm, blending in with cardboard cutouts of Omaha fans behind the UND bench.

The Fighting Hawks proceeded to beat Omaha 6-2 in the series opener for their fifth-straight win in Baxter Arena.

"Honestly, it felt kind of good getting back in here," UND senior Grant Mismash said. "We're so familiar with this place. Obviously, they had fans and whatnot here now. That was probably the only difference. But there was a familiarity here. Before the game, we have our warmup spots. I like playing in this building and I know other guys do, too."

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Since Baxter Arena opened in October 2015, UND is now 15-5-1 in the building (8-3 against the Mavericks).

Although there were some things different than the Pod -- the fog horn didn't sound after UND's goals and Chelsea Dagger didn't play on the loud speaker -- UND coach Brad Berry said there was still a very familiar feel.

"Very similar after playing 10 games in 19 days," Berry said. "Obviously, we were flip-flopping home and away benches in the Pod. We were on the visitor's bench this time. But I think we know this rink well enough. We didn't play Omaha in the Pod. This was our first time. I think you saw two teams trying to compete extremely hard, knowing that you're going to play each other six times in eight games."

After Saturday's series finale, UND has at least one more game scheduled in Baxter Arena this season, Feb. 26.

UND defenseman Josh Rieger and Omaha defenseman Nate Knoepke wrestle on the ground during Friday's game in Baxter Arena. Photo by Bonnie Tyler / Omaha athletics
UND defenseman Josh Rieger and Omaha defenseman Nate Knoepke wrestle on the ground during Friday's game in Baxter Arena. Photo by Bonnie Tyler / Omaha athletics

Mismash matches goal mark

Mismash, a senior winger, has matched his career-best with nine goals this season. He is tied with Shane Pinto for the team lead in goals and is just one goal behind Western Michigan's Ethen Frank for the NCHC's lead.

Mismash also continued his run of scoring key goals in the third period. Six of his nine goals this season have come in the third.

"It wasn't a pretty game for me," Mismash said. "I'm not on the penalty kill, so I was on the bench for a while just kind of watching. You've got to just stay fresh and stay focused and ready for those opportunities."

Mismash has scored goals in three-straight games and in five of the last six.

"Obviously, we need to limit the after-the-whistle stuff and the penalties, but it will be just like we play Duluth or Mankato," Mismash said of playing the Mavericks five more times. "Omaha is a really good team and they're getting better every year. They've always been a hard team to play against, especially in their own building, so I expect it to be a playoff-hockey mentality."

Pinto takes NCHC scoring lead

Pinto, a sophomore center, tallied his third-straight two-point game and is now alone atop the NCHC leaderboard in scoring with 21 points, two ahead of teammate Jordan Kawaguchi and Minnesota Duluth's Nick Swaney.

Pinto also leads the NCHC in power-play points (10), game-winning goals (three), faceoff wins (239) and faceoff winning percentage (62.6). The Franklin Square, N.Y., product ranks third in the NCHC in plus-minus at plus-12, and first among forwards. He only sits behind Minnesota Duluth defenseman Matt Cairns (plus-14) and teammate Jacob Bernard-Docker (plus-13).

With seven games left in the regular season, it appears UND has two candidate for NCHC player of the year in Pinto and Kawaguchi.

Save of the game

Perhaps the key play of the game was a save by goalie Adam Scheel early in Omaha's five-minute major power play.

Maverick forward Taylor Ward, the team leader in goals, had a backdoor chance on a rebound of a Brandon Scanlin shot.

Scheel slid all the way over from left to right and somehow got it with his right pad. Had that puck gone it, it would have been a one-goal game and the Mavericks still would have had 4:45 left on the major power play with a chance to tie it.

Other notes

  • There was an odd moment in the third period when the officials announced a major penalty to UND's Riese Gaber for facemasking and a minor penalty to Omaha's Scanlin for cross-checking, only to quickly let Scanlin out of the penalty box. Berry said the officials told him there was no call on the ice for the Scanlin penalty, so a minor cannot be called via video review. That's why he was let out.
  • All of the penalties led to a two-hour, 56-minute game, by far the longest of the season. The previous longest was two hours, 34 minutes against Denver in the Pod.
  • Judd Caulfield has been a completely different player since being reunited with Pinto. Caulfied's numbers without Pinto this season: 10 games, 0 goals, 1 point, +1, 8 shots on goal (0.8 shots per game). Caulfield's numbers since being put back together with Pinto: 4 games, 2 goals, 3 points, +6, 10 shots on goal (2.5 shots per game).
  • Scheel now has 19 wins over ranked opponents in his career.
  • Omaha continued its remarkable penalty-killing run by wiping out all five of UND's chances, including a five-on-three that lasted 1:46. The Mavericks have killed off 49-straight opponent power plays dating back to the second game of the season. They haven't allowed a power-play goal in 13-straight games.
  • Believe it or not, that was just the second Friday game all season for UND. The Fighting Hawks have played every day of the week: Sunday (six times), Monday (twice), Tuesday (once), Wednesdays (twice), Thursday (once), Friday (twice) and Saturday (three times).
  • Linesman Scott Fitzpatrick was injured during the second period soon after a faceoff. According to The Gateway, Fitzpatrick fractured his ankle in two different spots. He was in a lot of pain as he left the ice.
  • The dogs have witnessed a win against every team in the league. UND is 8-0 with them in the stands since they were put together in the Pod.
  • This is the 20th series between UND and Omaha since the teams joined the same league in 2010. Omaha has yet to win any of them and will have to wait until the series in Ralph Engelstad Arena on Feb. 19-20 to get another shot.