Puck Bucks Chucked By Mavericks

If OSU's first six losses in a row were brought on by inexperience, the seventh Thursday night was the result of poor effort and bad play. Mistakes abounded as Nebraska-Omaha stampeded into Value City Arena and earned its first league win of the year, 5-2.

For Ohio State men's hockey coach John Markell, Thursday night was the night that his steady encouragement for his struggling young squad turned into complete exasperation.

The Buckeyes (2-7, 0-5 Central Collegiate Hockey Association) allowed four goals during the first 8:39 of the second period and could not recover, dropping a 5-2 decision to visiting Nebraska-Omaha. The crowd of 1,667 in Value City Arena watched OSU drop its seventh straight decision, pushing the losing steak to the longest by a Buckeye squad since 1999-2000.

"There's not too many positives you can spin off a game like tonight, from the goaltender on out," Markell said.

The Buckeyes have a laundry list of mistakes they will need to eliminate in order to play better in the return game of the set Friday night at 7:05 p.m. in VCA. Goaltender Joe Palmer was suspect, leading to a hook from Markell midway through the second, his second pulling in two games. Ohio State allowed UNO to score three power-play tallies and a shorthanded goal. Twice OSU power plays were ended by penalties to senior Kyle Hood, and six of eight penalties were taken by Buckeye seniors.

"We're obviously disappointed," said senior forward Tom Fritsche, who scored his second goal of the season. "Frustrated, definitely. I think guys just have to go home and look at themselves in the mirror and figure out if they want to work hard or not. Tonight's game, we just didn't work."

That manifested itself after a scoreless first period. Alain Goulet, who had a goal and an assist, scored with the man advantage 1:12 into the frame, then after OSU's Mathieu Picard equalized at 2:58, the floodgates truly opened. Jeric Agosta netted shorthanded at 4:53, then JJ Koehler added one at 6:11 moments after an OSU penalty ended. Former Ohio State signee Brandon Scero, who had three points, ended Palmer's night at 8:39 on the power play.

Dustin Carlson, a freshman from Forest Lake, Minn., entered at that point and was one of Ohio State's few bright spots, allowing one goal on 12 shots through the final 31:21.

For a team boasting 14 freshmen, 13 of whom have now played once Carlson set skate to ice, hurdles were expected, but not quite this many.

"I'm done with the learning lessons," Markell said. "We have to figure out a way to do the little things that build your confidence up so that we can get a win. We have to get two points tomorrow night. We have to figure out in short order how to do that. But I would just assume you get shots on net."

The Buckeyes had just three shots on Maverick goaltender Jerad Kaufmann over the final 20 minutes. Late in the second, OSU freshman John Albert hit the post, and senior Nick Biondo did so in the third.

Goulet opened the scoring when he found a loose puck that Palmer could not low on the right and smacked it by the confused netminder. Picard momentarily buoyed Ohio State's chances when he roofed a cross-crease pass from freshman Patrick Schafer over Kaufmann's shoulder, but things got ugly from there.

A bad turnover in OSU's end while the Buckeyes held a power play allowed Dan Swanson to pick up the puck and find Agosta on a breakaway, a chance the sophomore would not blow when he went to the backhand and flipped the puck over Palmer. Swanson set up Koehler's goal as well, feeding the sophomore on a 4-on-2. Koehler did not miss from there, beating Palmer shortside over the right shoulder.

Scero was left open in the right circle and sent a lazy wrister through Palmer's legs to make it 4-1. The sophomore from New York was replaced at that point and responded by leaving the ice entirely and for the locker room for a handful of minutes.

Fritsche earned his goal, a shorthanded tally, when he rushed 120 feet on a 2-on-1 and snuck the puck around Kaufmann. Scero finished the scoring with 3:34 to play when he beat Carlson all alone thanks to a turnover by OSU freshman Erick Belanger.

The Mavericks (2-4) earned their first league win of the year in five tries, having already been swept by No. 1 Miami (Ohio) and No. 2 Michigan. They came in featuring the league's worst defense but held Ohio State, with six goals in six games coming in, at bay.

"That wasn't a good hockey game for us tonight, and they should be upset with it," Markell said. "I'm upset with it. We have to rally the troops here to get some points tomorrow."

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