UNO coach Dean Blais juggled his forward lines last week and came up with a combination that clicked.
And Blais said the Mavericks’ three P’s — Justin Parizek, Aaron Pearce and James Polk — will stay in their pod this weekend when No. 8 Miami (Ohio) visits CenturyLink Center for a National Collegiate Hockey Conference series.
“That line is going to win hockey games for us,” senior center Brock Montpetit said, after the Mavs split a series last weekend with then-No. 2 Michigan. “You look at all great teams, and they have three lines that can play.”
In last Friday’s 3-2 win over the Wolverines, Pearce scored his first goal in 33 career games, tying it 2-2 in the third period after one-timing a pass from the corner from Parizek.
In Saturday’s 4-3 loss, Polk jammed in his second goal of the season (with assists from his linemates) to start a comeback from a 2-0 deficit. Parizek picked up an assist on a Brian O’Rourke goal that brought the Mavs within 3-2. Pearce was on the ice when Montpetit tied the game 3-3.
“We just work hard, keep it simple, get pucks to the net, and grind them down,” Polk said.
Parizek, a freshman from Lakeville, Minn., was plus-3 for the weekend with three assists and now has all four of his assists in his last four games. He said the three P’s are looking to build momentum for the team when they’re on the ice.
“We just try to get time in the offensive zone and keep the rest of the guys going,” he said. “We have some of the top scorers in the nation on our team, and we’re just trying to get momentum. If we’re scoring goals, then that helps, too.”
Said UNO’s Ryan Walters, one of the top scorers in the nation: “That line was our best line.”
Pearce, a sophomore from Mississauga, Ontario, has one goal and two assists this season — all in the last four games — after previously recording one career point, an assist. He was also plus-3 for the weekend.
“It took a little longer than I would have liked,” Pearce said of his first career goal. “Polk and Parizek were unbelievable. Parizek made a great pass to the slot, and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
Polk, a junior from New York City, was a plus-1 against Michigan and upped his career goal total to five.
“You want to contribute, and anytime you can do that, it’s great,” Polk said. “When we get the opportunity, I think we can put pucks in the net. We bring energy, but if we get a chance, we’ll hopefully put it in the back of the net.”
It’s really no fluke that they are scoring.
Polk had 27 goals in his final season at the prestigious Shattuck St. Mary’s (Minn.) prep program. Pearce had 16 goals in his final season of juniors with Waterloo of the USHL. Parizek had 19 goals last season with Aberdeen of the NAHL.
“We all know how to score,” Polk said. “We’ve all been in a scoring role at some point in our careers. A lot of it is chemistry — and I think we have a lot of that.”
The points were really just a bonus last weekend, as the line provided valuable time in the offensive zone with strong cycles and effective forechecking. That part was no fluke. Just hard work from the three P’s.
“They’re great linemates,” Parizek said. “We just worked hard in the corners, battled hard, and got the puck to the net.”