COLUMBUS, Ohio — Goals from Chris Olsgard, R.J. Umberger, and Miguel Lafleche gave they Ohio State Buckeyes all they needed to become the first team in the CCHA to advance to the Super Six.
But the 3-1 matinee win over Nebraska-Omaha meant more to this OSU team than just an appearance at ‘The Joe’ next weekend.
“This was extremely important,” said Umberger, “not just because of The Joe but because of the NCAA tournament. We felt we couldn’t afford to lose.”
The first period was nearly a wash — one goal apiece, and OSU edging UNO in shots 13-11. Olsgard opened the scoring for OSU at 6:49, just after a successful UNO penalty kill. From behind the goal line to the right of the cage, Olsgard banked in a shot off the back of Ellis’ legs.
Joe Pereira answered for the Mavericks on the power play at 3:22, a blast from the right point that beat Betz clean, a goal that made up for a save Betz made earlier on Pereira at point-blank range.
A “goal” waved off at 8:54 would have given OSU a 2-0 edge early. Paul Caponigri shot and Ellis just got a piece of it; the puck dropped to the ice but never crossed the goal line.
In the scoreless second period, the Buckeyes outshot the Mavericks 14-0, although it appeared that Betz made two legitimate saves, the first more than midway through the stanza, and the second at 17:30.
“We had momentum in the second period, but just couldn’t score,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “Dan Ellis was right there.” Ellis made 37 saves in the effort.
Umberger put the Buckeyes ahead for good at 5:07 in the third, a 5-on-3 power-play tally, and Lafleche netted the insurance goal at 9:36 with each team down a man, a shot from the bottom of the right circle that hit the far pipe and ricocheted in behind Ellis.
“We knew we had to score on that [power play],” said Umberger. “You don’t get five-on-threes in the third period. We had to score on that.”
UNO head coach Mike Kemp said that he was “very disappointed” in the way the Mavericks ended the season, but added that his team “did a good job adhering to what we needed to do [in today's game] to be successful.”
“We gave up the one bad-angle goal at the end of the power play in the first period,” said Kemp, “and then they get a power-play goal five-on-three … and the four-on-four goal. Who knows what would have happened had we stayed out of the [penalty] box.”
Markell said the difference between last night’s game and today’s was “15 hours.”
“Those guys [the Mavericks] have played hockey all their lives, too,” said Markell. “They know the situation they’re in, and they’re going to come out fighting and scrapping. I thought they did a better job [than last night]. I thought they played a much better game.”
The Mavericks finish their season with an overall record of 13-22-5 (9-17-2 CCHA), while the Buckeyes (24-10-5, 16-8-4 CCHA) wait for the rest of the league’s first-round playoff action to wrap up to determine seedings at next week’s championship tournament.