COLUMBUS, Ohio — With two goals from Mick Lawrence on the power play and a solid performance for the second straight night from goaltender Jerad Kaufmann, the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks completed a two-game road sweep of the Ohio State Buckeyes, the 5-2 score identical to Thursday night’s final tally.
The wins were the first two in CCHA play for the Mavericks, who had opened league play with four straight losses to Miami and Michigan.
“It’s not what you expect, but it’s what you hope for,” said UNO head coach Mike Kemp, whose Mavericks have swept the Buckeyes in regular season just once, Jan. 24-25, 2003, in Omaha.
“We came here with the idea that after our first four games it was time to get back climbing the ladder,” said Kemp. “We talked about that during the week, that we needed to come in here with the right amount of focus, the right amount of intensity, and we needed to play with emotion for 60 minutes. Both nights, I was pleased with the way we did.”
Lawrence, the Mavericks’ leading goal scoring coming into the weekend, was a healthy scratch Thursday because he overslept and missed his ride to the airport en route to Columbus but more than made up for it with a pretty goal banked off the back of OSU goaltender Dustin Carlson to give UNO the 1-0 lead after one, and adding insurance early in the third. The goals were his third and fourth on the power play for the season, and his fifth and sixth total.
Mavericks’ Bryan Marshall earned his first goal of the season and netted two more assists in the game, bringing his point total to five for the series.
“It’s definitely good to get the first one out of the way,” said Marshall. “There are only a couple of guys left who need to get their first goals.”
Just as in the Thursday night contest, the pivotal period in this game was the second, after which Nebraska-Omaha led 3-1 in spite of seven minutes of Buckeye power play, including the five-minute major on UNO’s Pasko Skarica that led to OSU’s only goal of the night.
Marshall made it 2-0 1:06 after play began in the middle stanza when he swatted in the puck that glanced off of Tom Fritsche’s skate in front of the OSU net. It took the Mavericks just over two minutes to score again, Dan Charleston’s fourth of the season, a pretty little tuck-in low to the ice near the right post that finished a UNO breakaway.
The Buckeyes were given a little life when Skarica was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for hitting from behind at 3:38 in the second. Peter Boyd fired one between Kaufmann’s legs from the bottom of the right circle to make it a 3-1 game, but that goal 12 seconds into the major penalty was the only scoring opportunity Ohio State generated for the five minutes of advantage.
“We got those two quick ones to make it three to nothing, and their bench really sagged,” said Kemp. “At least that’s what we felt on our bench. Now all of a sudden, thirty-some seconds later, and they get a major, and they score 10 seconds in and I thought that really picked them up. We talked a lot about it on the bench about remaining calm and continuing to do what we do…and we just wanted to keep our guys playing the way we did. It worked big for us.”
The Mavericks took that 3-1 lead into the third and added to it at 2:13 with Lawrence’s second goal of the night. Matt McIlvane netted his second of the season for Ohio State at 8:00 to make it 4-2, but Ed DelGrosso’s first of the year for UNO at 14:26 was the nail in the coffin, a soft shot from the left circle that Carlson could not properly glove, a play greeted by a chorus of boos from the crowd.
The Mavericks were 5-for-14 on the power play in the series to OSU’s 1-for-14. “Specialty teams are important, and it cost us again this weekend,” said Ohio State head coach John Markell. “With any PK, it doesn’t matter where you are, you need stellar goaltending. They’re going to get opportunities if they’re smart enough, and [Nebraska-Omaha] has enough good hockey players and are smart enough to take advantage.
“I’m not blaming it on the young guy [Carlson]. The shots were rebound shots and they were there.”
The two losses bring OSU’s current streak to eight; the Buckeyes haven’t won a game since beating Wisconsin, 5-3, in the title game of the Lefty McFadden Invitational Oct. 13. The Mavericks outscored the Buckeyes 10-4 in two games; in their eight-game losing streak, the Bucks have been outscored 33-10.
“I have a limited number of upperclassmen,” said Markell, “and some of them aren’t giving us what we need. Some of the freshmen are going to have to improve, too. We have to bring it together as a team here.”