COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Mavericks of Nebraska-Omaha rebounded from a disappointing one-point home weekend against Notre Dame with a 2-0 road victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes, breaking a three-game winless streak in the process.
The blanking was the first of the season for UNO and the first ever for freshman goaltender Jerad Kaufmann. Tomas Klempa’s fluky goal at 11:44 in the second held up to be the game winner, and Scott Parse scored early in the third to cement the game.
UNO head coach Mike Kemp called Kaufmann’s effort “his most complete game” of the season. “When he had to come up big, he made big saves. When he needed to be big he was big, when he needed to be solid he was solid, tied up pucks when he had to. I just thought he was very, very solid in what he did from start to finish.”
Kaufmann shared praise for the win with his teammates. “I give a lot of credit to my PK and my defense. They played a great game. They did a great job of letting me see the puck from the points. That was the calmest I’ve felt in a game all year. I just went out there and gave my team a chance to win.”
The Maverick penalty kill combined with OSU’s continued offensive struggles to produce a pivotal, extended five-on-three Buckeye advantage inspiring for the Mavs, game-killing for the Bucks late in the second period.
With 1:29 left on Jason Krischuk’s penalty for holding the stick, Bill Bagron went to the box for cross-checking. The Buckeyes kept the puck in the UNO zone the whole time but failed score, generating just one quality shot that was blocked by their own man.
“In that five-on-three, the first shot came from Colly [Sean Collins] and came over to me,” said OSU forward Rod Pelley. “I had a lane, and it hit [Matt] Beaudoin right in the side of the pants. I had the lane. If he wasn’t there, it was probably a goal. The rest of the power play, we’re just generating shots. After we didn’t capitalize, it hurt us a little bit.”
“The power play could have won us the game, easily,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “It provided us with enough opportunities. In that type of game, it’s a difference maker. That five-on-three I don’t know what more we have to do. We were moving the puck well and behind the goalie a couple of times, and it didn’t go in the net.”
Said Parse, “That was a huge momentum builder for us. They did have the puck in our zone the whole time and were just firing away.”
After a scoreless, even first period in which many of OSU’s shots came while killing penalties, Klempa broke the ice at 11:44 in the second, inadvertently picking up Mick Lawrence’s rebound. Lawrence shot from the right circle and hit OSU goaltender Dave Caruso. The puck bounced the other way and Caruso dived for it, but instead of covering it, he hit it with the end of his glove, sending it to Klempa’s shin, from which the puck ricocheted back into the OSU net for UNO’s 1-0 lead.
Parse’s goal at 2:41 in the third came from a Buckeye turnover in the neutral zone. Bill Thomas passed to Klempa, who dished to Parse breaking into the Buckeye zone one-on-one. A single move around the lone OSU defender gave Parse the opportunity to exploit Caruso, five-hole, for the 2-0 lead.
“I thought after the second goal, halfway through the third, we just ran out of gas,” said Markell. “Our energy guys were even tired.”
The Buckeye bench was fatigued from its 3-0 Tuesday shutout of Miami, and further shortened by the loss of one defenseman and injury to another. Junior Tyson Strachan left the game about a minute in with a broken wrist, and sophomore Johann Kroll hurt his knee later in the contest.
“When we had to go down to three defensemen, I put Bryce [Anderson] back there,” said Markell. “Zack [Pelletier] was playing back there but he hadn’t been playing. We went down to three regulars.”
The Maverick defense adjusted well to the sudden departure sophomore defenseman Joe Grimaldi, who left UNO yesterday to play for the Ottawa 67s of the OHL.
“Basically what we did was adjusted Mike Eickman into the spot playing with Danny Knapp, and that became not a real major shift [because] his comfort level, stepping up and playing with Knapper, was there,” said Kemp.
Kaufmann stopped 28 pucks to Caruso’s 26, as the shots were even in the game. UNO was 1-for-6 on the power play, while OSU was 0-for-6. Klempa’s goal was the first allowed by Caruso in over 140 minutes of play, dating back to the first period of a 2-0 shutout loss to Bowling Green Jan. 7 (the second goal was an empty netter).
The Mavericks (12-0-1, 6-8-1 CCHA) and Buckeyes (11-9-3, 7-7-1) play again at 7:05 Saturday night in Value City Arena.