Preview: No. 14 Omaha at UND

A look at players to watch, a scouting report and the tale of the tape between the NCHC foes.

UND forward Judd Caulfield battles for positioning with Omaha forward Jack Randl on Friday, March 4, 2022, in Baxter Arena.
Mark Kuhlmann / UND athletics

GRAND FORKS — Last year, the Madison Capitols finished fifth of eight teams in the United States Hockey League's Eastern Conference.

Five years earlier, the Capitols would not have been in the playoffs in that spot.

But with an expanded field, they got in, then made a run.

Madison knocked off fourth-place Youngstown in the first round, stunned top-seeded Chicago in the second round, took out third-seeded Muskegon in the conference final and earned a trip to the Clark Cup Finals.

The man at center stage of the run: goalie Simon Latkoczy.


The Slovakian netminder, now a freshman at Omaha, is on a late-season charge again.

Latkoczy started the season as a backup to American International transfer and Carolina Hurricanes draft pick Jake Kucharski. But Latkoczy has wrestled the starting job away from Kucharski, getting the start in seven of Omaha's last nine games.

This weekend, Latkoczy has an opportunity to push Omaha to uncharted territory.

The Mavericks sit in second place in the NCHC standings. They've never finished higher than third.

They'll be at home next weekend for the first round of the NCHC playoffs, attempting to advance to the league semifinals for the first time since the conference started in 2013-14.

20230121_HKYvsMiami-6628 (2).jpg
Omaha freshman goaltender Simon Latkoczy has emerged as the No. 1 guy for the Mavericks.
Bonnie Ryan / Omaha athletics

UND has not seen Latkoczy yet. Kucharski started the two November games between the teams in Baxter Arena.

But a few UND players had an up-close look at Latkoczy during last year's playoff.

Jackson Blake was on the Chicago Steel team that lost to Madison, while Dylan James and Owen McLaughlin were part of the Sioux City team that finally ended Latkoczy and Madison's run in the Clark Cup Finals.


Omaha is sitting at No. 16 in the Pairwise Rankings, needing to move up at least one spot to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. UND is five spots back.

"It's a huge weekend for us, playing Omaha this weekend," UND senior forward Judd Caulfield said. "There's a chance we could play them in the first round, too. We know we have to go out there and dictate the pace and play our style of hockey. . . just kind of push them back and make them not want to play us in the first round."

Tale of the tape

3.30 (13th)Off3.09 (21st)
2.94 (34th)Def2.53 (18th)
29.3 (1st)PP24.0 (12th)
81.5 (22nd)PK77.5 (49th)
52.1 (20th)FO53.5 (7th)
.881 (59th)SP.911 (13th)

National rank in parenthesis. Categories are offense (goals per game), defense (goals against per game) power play percentage, penalty kill percentage, faceoff percentage and team save percentage.

Injury report

Omaha: F Ty Mueller is not expected to play. Mueller suffered an apparent upper-body injury in the first period last Saturday after hitting St. Cloud State defenseman Ondrej Trebal in the neutral zone. Mueller did not return. Mueller is tied for third on the team in points with 25. F Jimmy Glynn is questionable. He hasn't played since late January.

UND: F Dane Montgomery is out. He has yet to play this season.

What to watch

Omaha's power play has been strong this season, converting at 24 percent (12th in nation).

The key player to watch on that unit is fifth-year senior forward Tyler Weiss. The Raleigh, N.C., product's stat line this season: 5 goals, 20 assists, 25 points. As you'd expect with those numbers, Weiss is an excellent puck distributor.

Weiss runs the top unit from the left circle, where he looks to hit either Jack Randl (18 goals) between the dots or Cameron Berg (9 goals) in the right circle. The middle spot — usually played by Randl — is one college teams don't often use, but the Mavericks and Weiss go to that option more than most.


Berg, a New York Islanders pick who was born in West Fargo, has an excellent shot. He's a lefty who can one-time passes from Weiss.

In the November series between UND and Omaha, Berg received a game misconduct late in the second period. The Mavs' power play went 0-for-4 in the third period without Berg as a shooting threat in the right circle.

Last week, UND had to defend a major shooting threat from the left circle, where Colorado College looked to feed Hunter McKown. This week, it's more likely to have to defend passing lanes when the puck goes to the left side.

Weiss has one goal and 11 assists on the power play this season.

The focus: D Jonny Tychonick

Jonny Tychonick came to UND in 2018 as a highly touted offensive defenseman. Things never really clicked in Grand Forks.

By the end of his sophomore year, Tychonick began getting scratched as Ethan Frisch's role increased. Without a path to an offensive role at UND — the Fighting Hawks had future NHLers Matt Kiersted, Jake Sanderson and Jacob Bernard-Docker on the blue line — Tychonick entered the transfer portal and committed to Omaha.

Things were a little slow going numbers-wise his first two years with the Mavericks. But Tychonick, a second-round pick of the Ottawa Senators, opted to return to school for his fifth season and the offense has now arrived.

Tychonick has 26 points in 30 games for the Mavericks — almost as many points as he had in his previous four years combined (31 in 99 games).


He will be on the ice plenty this weekend; Tychonick averages 19:15 per game. That's second only to shutdown defender Victor Mancini.

Pick to click: F Ben Strinden

Latkoczy hasn't allowed many goals lately on clean shots — unless they were backdoor tap-ins. Getting traffic on top of the crease is going to be a big key for UND. That will allow for the possibility of screens or deflections.

Although UND fans haven't seen it yet, freshman forward Ben Strinden is outstanding at tipping pucks on top of the crease. He did it well last season for Muskegon in the USHL. As Strinden's career goes on, don't be surprised if he finds himself at net front on a power-play unit and in position to do it a lot more.

Strinden is a player who likes to go to the net hard and that will have to be a part of UND's game plan against the Mavericks.

The call: UND win and tie

UND needs to make the most of its last home weekend of the season to keep some momentum going, but outright sweeps have been difficult for the Fighting Hawks.

They've won plenty of series via a victory and a tie. That's happened five times this season (at Omaha, at/vs. Bemidji State, at Western Michigan, vs. St. Cloud State and at Colorado College). But they've only had three outright sweeps (Holy Cross, Lindenwood and Miami).

UND has already won a series against the Mavericks this season, but sweeping an Omaha team that's 10-2-1 in the last 13 games will be difficult.

Friday: UND 4, Omaha 4, tie
Saturday: UND 4, Omaha 2


DraftKings betting line

Omaha +1.5 (-195).
UND -1.5 (+160)

Omaha +120
UND -150

Over 5.5 (-130)
Under 5.5 (+100)

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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