No. 12 Ohio State (2-1-1) lost Game 2 of its home series against Nebraska-Omaha (3-1-0) 2-1 Saturday.
The game wasn’t all the Buckeyes lost, as a knee injury to senior defenseman Matt Miller, the team’s points leader, poses a threat for future matchups.
Omaha senior defenseman Ryan Jones was called for a hit to the head on the play and was ejected. The Mavericks were already short-handed due to a slashing penalty, giving the Buckeyes a five-on-three advantage for 40 seconds.
“There’s no place for hits like that in hockey, and it’s too bad that it happened, and it’s disappointing,” Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik said. “That’s why you have 27 guys. The next guy stands up, and he’s got to do the job.”
Heading into Saturday, Miller led the team in points, with two goals and three assists through the first three games. The hit resulted in the ejection of Omaha freshman forward Nolan Sullivan, who was playing in his first career game. The penalty was the second misconduct penalty for Omaha, which racked up 36 penalty minutes Saturday.
The Buckeyes were unable to convert on any of their five power plays.
“We had our opportunities there, but we just didn’t cash in,” Rohlik said. “Penalty-kill did their job. The power play just didn’t come through for us tonight.”
The Mavericks were able to open the scoring just 4:08 into the game, as sophomore forward Taylor Ward scored his first of the season.
In the second period, the Buckeyes’ power play got an early chance, as Omaha freshman center Joey Abate was called for high sticking.
One minute into the power play, the Buckeyes saw their second five-on-three opportunity, as the Mavericks had their second player called for a major misconduct penalty as Ohio State lost Miller for the night.
Ohio State found itself on a five-on-three power play as Omaha senior defenseman Dean Stewart was called for boarding.
Omaha freshman goalie Isaiah Saville made a save with eight seconds left in the power play, as Ohio State senior forward Tanner Laczynski had an open net until Saville sprawled out and robbed him of a goal.
Ohio State found the net for the first and only time 11:35 into the second period, as freshman forward Tate Singleton hustled past the Omaha defense and controlled the puck deep in the corner. He threw the puck into space, where senior forward Carson Meyer converted for his first goal of the season.
The game was tied heading to the third period, when the Mavericks were able to score a go-ahead game-winner with 7:30 left as freshman forward Joey Abate tipped a shot from Stewart past Ohio State junior goalie Tommy Nappier, who had 20 saves on the night.
The Buckeyes pulled Nappier in the final minute, but came up short as they lost 2-1 at home.
“It’s early in the year. I thought the guys really battled,” senior forward Ronnie Hein said. “We lost a few guys down. A lot of guys stepped up. We competed hard. Obviously it didn’t go our way, but I think our message right now is that there’s nothing you can do about it now, it’s over with.”
The Buckeyes travel to Mercyhurst Oct. 25 and 26 for an away series.