The action on the ice didn't quite match. Not even during a disastrous 12-25-4 season a year ago did the Buckeyes ever look this disheveled defensively.
Poor defense and incapable goaltending doomed the Buckeyes to 7-3 loss to CCHA rival Lake Superior State. Nathan Perkovich, Fred Cassiani and Chad Nehring each scored twice for the Lakers, while Ohio State was forced to pull goaltenders Joseph Palmer and Dustin Carlson.
"Anytime there's a bad bounce and it goes in the net – and there were a couple of them tonight – there's no reason for you not to do your job," OSU head coach John Markell said. "It's not (that) the hockey gods are against us. It's because we took shortcuts, and we have to show them why that happened and how to respond properly, not the way we did."
Senior Corey Elkins and sophomores Peter Boyd and Hunter Bishop scored for Ohio State, which fell to 0-2-1-1 in three games both overall and in the league. Lake State, which improved to 1-1-1 in its CCHA opener, also got a goal from Dan Barczuk.
The Buckeyes will be forced to pick up the pieces before tomorrow night's rematch at 7 p.m. in Value City Arena. Ohio State has given up 14 goals over its last two games and has had to make goaltender switches in each. Markell said he wasn't sure who he would go with during Saturday night's rematch.
There wasn't much redeeming any way you cut it for Ohio State, especially defensively. The team scored just 14 seconds into the game and then proceeded to watch LSSU tally three times in response by the 10:00 mark.
OSU got it back to 3-2 on Boyd's goal with 1:25 left in the first period, but the fourth goal was a crusher. The Buckeyes had momentum before Barczuk's fairly simple shot from the left faceoff circle at 11:27 somehow eluded Palmer and bounced into the net to make it 4-2.
Palmer was gone at that point, and OSU responded with a goal by Elkins at 16:54 that made it seem like the Buckeyes were poised for a breakout third period in front of what was believed to be an all-time low of 1,417 fans in Value City Arena.
Instead, it was Lake Superior State that came out the fired up team in the third. An unmarked Nehring had an easy one just 27 seconds in, turning a Pat Aubry centering pass into the net behind Carlson. Just 1:31 later, Cassiani, a freshman, was left alone in the low right circle and put Will Acton's pass through Carlson's legs.
"We just went after them right away," Lakers coach Jim Roque said. "We didn't sit back and try to hang on and hope to win. We just kept playing the same way, and that was a really good sign for me as a coach."
That signaled the end of Carlson's night after two goals on six shots, and in came freshman Cal Heeter, who was making his debut. Perkovich finished the scoring on the power play at 14:44 with a fluky goal off a bounding rebound.
Ohio State needed just 14 seconds to score to open the game when highly touted freshman Zac Dalpe poked the puck away from LSSU defenseman Simon Gysbers and fed Bishop, who broke in alone and beat Lakers goaltender Brian Mahoney-Wilson to the blocker from the slot to make it 1-0. The tally was the former North Dakota player's first career goal.
From there, it was all Lakers.
"I don't think (the first goal) came too easy, but I think our mind-set changed a bit," Boyd said. "Instead of building on that first goal I think we kind of thought to ourselves this team wasn't ready to play. They showed us at the end."
Nehring scored at 4:02 after a transition shot from the left boards by John Scrymgeour popped off the untidy Palmer and landed in the crease for the tap-in goal. Cassiani netted his first career goal at 6:20 by roofing a loose puck over Palmer's glove, and then Perkovich, who led the team in scoring with 17 goals last year, deflected a power-play shot by Steven Kaunisto past Palmer at 9:18.
Markell again pointed to the opening goal as a curse rather than a blessing.
"The next two shifts we were all over them, and then all of a sudden, bang bang bang, they have three goals," he said. "We have to stick to our game plan, which we didn't do."
Boyd's goal came on the power play late in the first when he shot John Albert's centering pass by Mahoney-Wilson for his second goal of the year.
Perkovich finished with four points thanks to two helpers, while Kaunisto has three helpers. Mahoney-Wilson stopped 37 of the Buckeyes' 40 shots.
Heeter had the best night in net for OSU, denying 10 of 11 shots, while Palmer gave up four goals in 20 shots. Twelve of OSU's 18 skaters had minus ratings, though just Dalpe and the defensive pair of Chris Reed and Erick Belanger were minus-2.
Lake State was 2 for 6 on the power play, meaning OSU has given up more than one man-down goal in each of its first three games. OSU was 1-for-7.