The Ohio State football team may have figured things out, but the hockey team is still searching for answers. The Ohio State mens hockey team fell to No. 6 Nebraska-Omaha by a score of 6-4 on Saturday night, completing UNO's weekend sweep of the Buckeyes.
After a positive showing and playing Nebraska-Omaha down to the wire on Friday night, Buckeye fans had high hopes coming into Saturday's showdown at Omaha that OSU could pull off an upset and set the team on the right path as conference play looms ever closer. That, uh, didn't happen.
Matt Tomkins was back between the pipes for Ohio State and he did not get off to a great start. Austin Ortega, who score the game-clinching empty net goal on Friday, scored just 30 seconds into the game to give the Mavericks the 1-0 lead. Mike Gillespie would even the score up for OSU with his first collegiate goal on a redirection off a hard pass, but just a few minutes later things would go horribly awry again for the Buckeyes.
Freshman defenseman Tommy Parran received a game misconduct for checking from behind with 14:51 left in the first, resulting in a five minute major powerplay for the Mavericks. Just six second in, Jake Guentzel scored to give Omaha the 2-1 lead. Sasha Larocque, a fellow OSU freshman defenseman, would be sent off to make it a 5-on-3 for UNO, but OSU would kill that off and a hooking call for Omaha made it 4-on-4 and eventually 5-on-4 in favor of Ohio State.
Ohio State escaped the five minute major only allowing one goal and only trailed by one going into intermission. UNO led in shots by a count of 16-14, but with that long of a powerplay, that's not too discouraging and showed at least a good amount of Ohio State pressure.
The second period wouldn't have nearly as many silver linings. Ortega struck again on the powerplay with just over ten minutes left in the period after David Gust was sent off for a high stick. David Pope would make it 4-1 at 11:08 before Fredrik Olofsson made it 5-1 on the powerplay after an Ohio State too many men on the ice call. Those three goals came on just ten Maverick shots in the second.
Larocque scored his first career goal to narrow the lead to three with just over two minutes left in the second and Anthony Greco would soon cut the lead to two in the third. Nick Schilkey would add another to make it 5-4 in the third, but the Bucks would come up just short. Tomkins couldn't keep out the Nebraska-Omaha shots and Ohio State couldn't tally enough of their own to make up for it. UNO would add an empty net goal from Guentzel to clinch the win.
Sometimes you just get beaten by one of the top teams in the country and that's more than acceptable in a vacuum. But this team has yet to beat one team this year they shouldn't and when you're in last in the Big Ten conference in overall record heading into a series with 4-6 Minnesota next weekend, you have to start generating results in the win column.
If the Buckeyes don't beat a team they shouldn't, even once, in conference play, they won't win a single game and that's just a sad fact at this point in the season. The team is now just 3-9, with mighty Canisius and god-like Mercyhurst standing as the only teams OSU's beaten. They didn't get embarrassed in either game against one of the best teams, and could have easily pulled one of them out, but it's high time they finally beat someone good or the wins are going to be just as hard to come by in conference play, even with a down Big Ten this year.
The Buckeyes will kick off conference play with the talented but underachieving Golden Gophers at Minnesota next weekend and hope to finally start stringing some quality wins together.