Updated Sun, Feb 19, 2012 6:48 pm
Coming into Sunday, the Bobcats were rolling on all cylinders, eager to take home the CSCHL Tournament Championship. However, the Lindenwood Lions had other plans, as they handed Ohio a 6-4 loss in the championship game.
Bird Arena played host to the Central States Collegiate Hockey League Tournament Championship, yet the Bobcats were wearing its black away uniforms in the championship game.
After an early Lindenwood score, Brett Agnew scored for the Bobcats off of an assist from Tom Whetsel in the first period, to tie the game at 1-1. Whetsel put in a goal of his own off of an assist from Agnew and John Luciano to give the Bobcats a 2-1 lead heading into the second period.
Lindenwood’s Grant Gorczyca scored only 27 seconds into the second period to tie the game at 2-2. The Lion’s Neeco Balenger scored 10 minutes later to give the Lions a 3-2 lead.
Ohio’s Agnew quickly answered Balenger’s goal, just minutes after his score, to tie the game at 3-3, inspiring Ohio and the fans at Bird Arena.
Yet, after hanging with Lindenwood for the first two periods, the third ranked Lions took the game over and ended Ohio’s hopes at bringing the title home. The Lions scored three goals in the third period, while Ohio only scored one.
Ohio’s lone third period goal came as Josh Fodor slapped one in, but it was not enough. Ohio goaltender Fedor Dushkin took the loss for the Bobcats, stopping 17 of the 23 shots taken against him.
Lindewood improved its CSCHL record to 17-0, and the Lion’s Steve Brancheau won the tournament MVP. The game was a disappointing end to an exciting tournament for the Bobcats, as Ohio defeated Kent State and Robert Morris in the earlier rounds of the tourney.
In the first round of the tournament, the Bobcats handled the Kent State Golden Flashes with ease, winning the game 7-2. Michael Schultz came storming out of the gate, slapping one in early in the first period. It was Schultz’s 28th goal of the season.
Minutes later, Jonathan Gulch got in on the action for Ohio, scoring a long shot, putting Ohio up 2-0. Josh Fodor and Schultz each scored in the waning moments of the opening period, recording two goals in just over one minute. Ohio outshot Kent State 21-1 in the first period; giving Ohio a 4-0 lead and simply dominating the Golden Flashes.
Adrew Gazdak and Bobby Lyle scored for Kent State in the second period, making the score 4-2. However, Ohio would respond as Jared Fuhs and Nick Rostek answered Kent State’s scores, the Bobcats increased their lead to 6-2 heading into the third period.
Ohio’s defense came up huge in the third quarter as they neutralized multiple 6-on-4 Kent State attacks due to Ohio penalties. The Bobcats also scored one more goal in the third period, making the final score of the game 7-2.
Ohio goaltender Fedor Duskin had a great game, netting 15 saves for his eleventh win of the season.
Ohio’s second game of the tournament was a penalty-filled thriller against the Robert Morris Eagles. The game also featured a battle of freshman goalies, as Ohio’s Brendan Madden got the start at goaltender.
Madden had a great game, recording many glove saves and making just enough plays to keep the Bobcats in contention to win. He got his eleventh win of the season, tying him with Fedor Dushkin for the wins lead among Ohio’s goaltenders this season.
Ohio struck first, and quickly, to gain a 1-0 lead. Tyler Pilmore finished off a Zach Barbis slap shot to record his fifteenth goal of the year.
The Eagles’ Ryan McGaughy set the tempo for the game as he sent Pilmore head-first into the boards during the first period, earning himself an ejection and painting a big red target on his team’s back.
Ohio took a 1-0 lead into the second period. The second period had 10 combined penalties and a Bobcat goal. Josh Fodor scored with 11 seconds left on the clock, giving the Bobcats a two goal lead as the second period ended.
In the final period, Robert Morris was up against the ropes, and it responded, refusing to go down without a fight. Ohio committed four penalties in a short time span. The Eagles took advantage of Ohio’s mistakes as Robert Morris’ Christopher Cimonch scored, erasing one score off of Ohio’s lead.
Robert Morris wasn’t done, the Eagles’ Gehrett Sagis slapped in another score to tie the game 2-2. However, Madden did not get discouraged; he made a huge stop with time expiring in regulation.
Overtime was laden with adrenaline as the Bobcats and Eagles were battling for a spot in the championship. With around five minutes left in the overtime period, John Luciana provided Zach Tisdale with an assist and he finished it with a goal, giving Ohio the win as the crowd at Bird Arena erupted.
Ohio (25-12-1) will play the Adrian Bulldogs next weekend at Bird Arena. After that, it’s time for the ACHA National Tournament in Strongsville, Ohio, beginning on March 2.
Ohio will play the eleventh ranked Illinois Fighting Illini in the second round of the tournament on March 3 at 1:00 pm.