COLUMBUS, Ohio — With two goals from Brandon Scero and multi-point games from several key players, the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks earned their first CCHA win of the season with a 5-2 decision over the Ohio State Buckeyes.
“Quite honestly, I think it was about the way we played throughout the season,” said UNO head coach Mike Kemp, whose Mavericks have had to endure four straight league losses to the top two teams in the country, Miami and Michigan.
“I’ve been very happy with the way our team has been playing,” Kemp said. “While we’ve not necessarily had the success in the wins and loss situation, with a young team like we have, we have been doing in my opinion a very sound job of playing good defense, of not relinquishing a lot of scoring chances, not relinquishing a lot of shots on goal, and I thought again tonight was probably another example of that.”
The Mavericks’ special teams exploited the Buckeyes for all five goals. Both of Scero’s goals came on the power play as UNO went 3-for-8 with the man advantage. Jeric Agosta scored shorthanded and J.J. Koehler scored just after a Buckeye power play expired.
The majority of the scoring came within the frenetic first 13 minutes of the second period, a time of capitalizing on opportunities if you’re UNO, a span of incredibly bad play if you’re OSU.
“We just played bad, plain and simple,” said Ohio State senior Tom Fritsche, who netted his second of the season in the second, shorthanded.
“We’re obviously disappointed, frustrated definitely,” said Fritsche. “If we play bad against any team in this league, they’re going to beat you. They’ve got some goal scorers on their team, and they put them in the back of the net tonight.”
After a first period that couldn’t have been more even — no goals, two UNO penalties to OSU’s one, 10 UNO shots to OSU’s nine — the frenzy began a little over a minute into the middle stanza.
Alain Goulet opened the scoring on the UNO power play at 1:12, scoring on an essentially empty net with starting goaltender Joseph Palmer’s back to the play.
Mathieu Picard tied it for OSU at 2:58 when he forced in, at point-blank range, Patrick Schafer’s cross-crease pass from behind the net.
The Mavericks regained the lead less than two minutes later when, shorthanded, Dan Swanson picked up the puck along the boards in the OSU zone, after Buckeye Peter Boyd overshot a pass from the right point to Jason DeSantis left, and fed Agosta up the middle. Agosta streaked in alone on Palmer and beat the Buckeye stick-side at 4:53 to make it 2-1.
It was 3-1 at 6:11, when the Mavs nearly earned their second shorthanded goal on the same Buckeye power play that produced the first one. With Dan Charleston freshly out of the penalty box, the Mavericks engineered an odd-man rush into the OSU zone with Swanson right and J.J. Koehler left. Koehler shot and cleanly beat Palmer on the short side.
The Buckeye bench took a time out after UNO’s third goal, but whatever OSU intended with the move didn’t manifest itself on the ice. Scero’s first power-play goal came at 8:39, a soft shot from the right circle that beat Palmer five-hole to give the Mavericks a 4-1 lead, and that was it for the sophomore starter in the Buckeye net.
Palmer’s replacement, freshman Dustin Carlson, finished the period with five saves and no goals, and Fritsche’s pretty effort at 12:25 capped the second-period scoring to make it a 4-2 game after two.
Carlson stopped the first 10 UNO shots he faced, until Scero stripped Erick Belanger of the puck in the OSU zone and one-timed it past the rookie to bring the final score to 5-2.
“It absolutely killed us, two shorthanded goals,” said Buckeye head coach John Markell. “We did get one of those back, but then to get three shots on net in the third period is — we continually harp on them to get pucks to the net, get pucks to the net, get pucks to the net, and it’s not that they’re refusing to … but there’s not too many positives to spin off a game like tonight, from the goaltender on out. Maybe one. Dustin Carlson came in and did a good job.”
Carlson finished with 11 saves on 10 shots in his first collegiate appearance. Jerad Kaufmann stopped 21 of 23 shots, as the Mavericks outgunned the Buckeyes 30-23.
“These kids right now, they’re hesitant,” said Markell of the Buckeyes, who are now riding a seven-game losing streak and still looking for their first league win. “We had some lines to out there. I thought Johnny Albert’s line gave us puck possession, but they’re not getting anything out of it.”
The last Buckeye win came against Wisconsin in the title game of the Lefty McFadden Invitational, a decisive 5-3 win Oct. 13 to cap the first weekend of the season.
“That’s why it’s so frustrating,” said Fritsche. “We know we can win because we played so well that game.”
The Mavericks (2-4-0, 1-4-0 CCHA) and Buckeyes (2-7-0, 0-5-0 CCHA) meet for the last time in the regular season Friday night in Value City Arena. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m.