Updated Sun, Oct 14, 2012 11:13 am
Updated Sun, Oct 14, 2012 11:13 am
Ohio survived its toughest test of the season on Saturday in its second home matchup against the Oklahoma Sooners during Homecoming Weekend. The Bobcats won 5-4 in a shootout and swept the weekend series.
Brett Agnew, Ohio’s second shooter, was the difference-maker in the shootout. He buried his breakaway opportunity with a wrist shot after a small deke opened a portion of the glove-hand side of the net. No other players scored in the shootout.
Despite Agnew’s goal, the contest was played evenly throughout regulation. Each period ended in a tie and the final shot differential was just six. Both teams held and squandered leads, committed an obscene number of penalties and seized back any momentum that they had lost at the drop of a hat.
Something had to give, it was the few differences between two schools both abbreviated by “OU” that allowed first-ranked Ohio (8-0) to remain unbeaten.
Bobcat goalie Fedor Dushkin was one of these differences. The netminder faced shot after shot in the opening minutes of the contest and turned away each opportunity, allowing his team to heat up to Oklahoma’s pace of play.
Despite a large number of opportunities for the Sooners during scrambles in the crease, Dushkin held his ground, limiting the damage. Finally, in the shootout, the Ukrainian goalie stopped all three of the shots he faced.
Another difference was the play of Ohio’s top two goal-scorers, Michael Harris and Nick Rostek, each of whom scored two goals during the game.
The Bobcats broke through for the first goal of the game with 5:40 remaining in the first period when Rostek pulled the trigger on a two-on-one opportunity, sniping an opening on the far side of the net.
Rostek scored his second power play goal of the contest 4:30 into the second period when his wrister from the right faceoff circle went through the five-hole of Sooner goalie Nick Holmes.
The goal gave Ohio a 2-1 lead that would last just under four minutes before Oklahoma’s Jordan Greenberg scored his first of two goals on a Sooners’ power play.
Harris broke the tie when he ripped a slap shot from the right faceoff circle in Oklahoma’s zone off of the far post and in to give the Bobcats their third lead of the game.
At this point the Sooners surged yet again. An offensive onslaught by Oklahoma resulted in two goals, one shorthanded and one on a man advantage, which gave the Sooners their first lead of the contest.
Ohio was able to respond late in the second. After an Oklahoma hooking infraction, Harris took a slapper from the right circle in the Sooners’ zone. The high shot handcuffed Holmes and a rebound ricocheted off of the goalie, bounced off of an Oklahoma defenseman and into an open cage.
After a high-octane, penalty-filled second period, the teams entered the final period deadlocked at four.
The third period could not have been more different than the first two. Each side had trouble establishing a forecheck as the teams battled back and forth through the neutral zone.
Each side desperately wanted the victory. Defenders dove in front of shots in efforts to deny a late goal and forwards slammed their sticks in frustration when they missed an opportunity or were robbed by the goalie.
After being called for a questionable delay of game penalty on a power play with just 2:00 left, Ohio captain Tyler Pilmore nearly attacked the referee.
The teams put the game in the hands of their skill players in the shootout. Ohio was able to just edge out the Sooners, who also received goal-scoring performances from Stan Smrke and Chad Hudson.
Ohio Hockey will look to continue its undefeated season and retain its top American Collegiate Hockey Association ranking next weekend.
The Bobcats will play host to the 19th-ranked Arizona Wildcats for another Friday-Saturday series. Both games are at 7:30 p.m. at Bird Arena.