Friday night, Ohio State took the ice at Omaha’s Civic Auditorium riding a 10-game unbeaten streak. They hadn’t been shut out all season, R.J. Umberger was on a 10-game point scoring streak and the Buckeyes piled up 41 shots on goal.
None of that mattered after three periods, as the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks muscled out a 4-0 win.
UNO changed up its style due to a depleted defensive corps, and came out with a neutral-zone trap in hopes of clogging the middle of the ice.
“Honestly, in my coaching career it’s the first time we’ve done it for any extended period of time, so I would assume it would surprise somebody.”
OSU managed 20 shots in the first period alone, but UNO netminder Dan Ellis would have none of it.
“I thought Ellis was the difference in the game,” OSU coach John Markell said. “We pumped  shots on them, they only put 20 on us. He gave them a chance after that first period.”
Because of the trap, most of the Buckeye shots were from the outside, with little chance of rebounds. It might not have mattered the quality of shots the Buckeyes put up anyway because Ellis looked impermeable.
“That’s the Dan Ellis of old right there, best game he’s played all season. He’s got to be commended for that,” UNO winger Joe Pereira said. “He stood on his head.”
After the Mavericks weathered the first-period storm, they got the gift they needed in the second period. Open in the slot, Scotty Turner received a pass Aaron Smith and completely whiffed on the puck. Yet, Turner got enough of it to send a change up toward the net, and it just crept by OSU netminder Mike Betz.
“If he shoots it hard, its probably stopped,” Kemp said. “Like any goaltender, he (Betz) was playing by feel, and he overreacted and the puck goes underneath him.”
Joe Pereira made the game 2-0 by finishing off a breakaway started by a Dan Hacker airborne pass worthy of Joe Montana. The puck came down just in front of Pereira and just beyond the blue line and Pereira buried the puck.
The Mavericks clamped up in the third period as Ohio State again came on strong, getting 13 shots in the third. The Buckeyes pulled Betz, but Hacker found the empty net to put UNO up 3-0 with just 1:37 left in the game.
Still OSU fought, as did the Mavericks — literally.
With 1:20 left Pereira got into a scrum with Buckeye forward Chris Olsgard, which sparked a melee. UNO’s Jason Jaworski and OSU’s Nate Guenin began to throw sticks, helmets and eventually fists. Both were given five for fighting and will sit Saturday night. The result was a Mavericks power play as Olsgard sat for slashing.
UNO finished the scoring on that power play as Smith roofed the final tally at 19:27 of the third.
“We can’t come out on our heels responding on how the other team plays, we have to play our game, which is hard-working and outmuscling people,” Turner said.
Markell said: “I’m upset about the end there, the little donnybrook. When you go on the road, you can only bring so many players, and we’re looking through our players, and now we’re down.”
However UNO will feel the loss of Jaworski, a defenseman, tremendously Saturday. The Mavericks played with just five healthy blueliners and Ryan Bennett, a forward playing defense.