OMAHA, Neb. — Ohio State jumped out to a 4-0 lead and then overcame a furious third-period rally by Nebraska-Omaha to hold on for a 4-3 win Friday at Civic Auditorium in the first game of a crucial two-game CCHA series.
With the win, the Buckeyes moved into sole possession of fifth place in the CCHA, two points ahead of Nebraska-Omaha and one ahead of Western Michigan, a 4-3 winner over Michigan State Friday. A loss or tie by Alaska against Notre Dame Friday would clinch home ice for the Buckeyes in the first round of the CCHA playoffs.
The Buckeyes improved to 13-13-5 on the year (11-10-4 CCHA), while the Mavericks fell to 13-14-8 overall (10-11-4 CCHA).
Said Ohio State head coach John Markell, “It was a good win. The guys worked hard and did a lot of good things. We were able to stop them 5-on-5; we worked hard on that all week long. It’s a credit to our guys. We have to come back and get two points tomorrow. The pack (in the league standings) stayed with us.
The Buckeyes jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 10:03 of the first period on a goal by Andrew Schembri. Schembri tucked home the rebound of a Tyson Strachan shot from close range, with John Dingle also notching an assist on the play.
Ohio State extended its lead to 2-0 on a Corey Elkins power-play goal at 16:38 of the first. Schembri and Matt Waddell picked up assists on the goal as Schembri found Elkins in the low slot. The Buckeyes controlled play the majority of the period, outshooting the Mavericks, 7-3.
Ohio State had the only goal of the second period, pushing its lead to 3-0 at the 15:05 mark. Strachan rifled in a shot from the point that deflected off UNO goalie Jeremie Dupont and in. Dingle and Mathieu Beaudoin assisted on the goal.
The Buckeye lead grew to 4-0 on a goal by defenseman Kyle Hood at 2:43 of the third period. Schembri collected his third point of the game with an assist, while Mathieu Picard also garnered an assist.
Nebraska-Omaha then cut the Buckeye lead to one with goals at 9:05, 11:39 and 16:27 of the third period.
Scott Parse scored the first two goals for the Mavericks and Alex Nikiforuk added the third, a power-play strike. The Mavericks pulled Dupont for the extra attacker with 1:21 remaining and then had a 6-on-4 advantage after the Buckeyes were called for a penalty, but Ohio State was able to hold UNO off to preserve the win.
Buckeye freshman goaltender Joseph Palmer made 22 saves on the night, including 10 in the third period, and improved to 13-11-4 on the year. Dupont had 16 saves for UNO. Ohio State ended the game with 20 shots, while the Mavericks had 25.
The Buckeyes were 1-for-4 on the power play and held UNO to one power-play goal on eight chances.
The teams square off again at 9:05 p.m. (ET) Saturday in Civic Auditorium in the final game of the series. The game Saturday will be televised on CSTV.
“We have to be able to sustain our play for 60 minutes,” said Markell. “It’s a continuing process. I thought we did better tonight than we did last weekend. We did well in front of a hostile crowd.”