Updated Sat, Dec 14, 2013 10:11 am
One of the most anticipated games of the regular season turned into a rout as the No. 8 Ohio Bobcats toppled the No. 2 Robert Morris Eagles, 7-2, at Bird Arena on Friday night.
The victory improved the Bobcats’ record to 19-4-1 on the season, extended the team’s winning streak to 10 games and gave them sole possession of second place in the CSCHL over the Eagles.
“Obviously, the guys get a little more amped up to play [Robert Morris] since they are so highly ranked,” Ohio head coach Jonathon Sheridan said. “This was a game that we wanted... and it was a great win for sure.”
Michael Harris, Logan Pfeffer and Pat Spellacy all had two goals for Ohio over the course of three periods.
Both of Harris’ goals came on the power play, but Harris was just as active in the physical aspect of the game as he was on the score sheet.
“Harris is one of those guys that the rest of the team looks up to and respond to when he’s going,” Sheridan said. “So it’s nice to see his hard work pay off.”
Harris’ first power play goal opened the game’s scoring at 17:15 of the first period when he ripped a slap shot from the point over the glove hand of Eagles’ goalie Anthony Petrak. His other goal came at 12:13 of the second period on the man advantage.
Harris accounted for the Ohio power play’s only two power goals of the contest, which went two-for-five on the night.
Ohio’s fifth power play was an extended five-minute major penalty assessed to Eagles’ forward Markus Ellis for making illegal head contact with Spellacy during a hit in the third period. The penalty was an automatic ejection for Ellis and was his fourth penalty of the night.
Ellis’ 11 penalty minutes were only a small part of the chippy play that came with the matchup between two physical teams, a style of game Sheridan’s team didn’t mind.
“We don’t like losing in [Bird Arena]. Bird is our house and no one else’s,” Sheridan said. “If someone tries to push us around in here, we’re not going to have that.”
Sheridan prepared for the physical battle by inserting forward Diego Breckenridge into the lineup for only his second CSCHL game of the season. Breckenridge not only helped the Bobcats’ toughness in the game, but he also netted his first goal of the season with only four seconds remaining in the third period.
“Physical matchups are Diego’s game,” Sheridan said. “He is a hitter, he is a grinder for us, but you saw his soft hands there when he potted that goal at the end.”
Ohio took six penalties of its own and successfully killed five of them. Their only power play goal against came when Derek Diaz put the puck past Ohio goalie Aaron Alkema at 3:18 of the third period after taking a pass from Robert Morris’ captain and leading scorer, Chris Cimoch.
Russian native Oleg Popov had the Eagles’ only other goal, coming with 5:48 left in the second period.
Alkema made 23 saves in his team-leading ninth win of the season.
The Bobcats will have another crack at bringing down the second-highest ranked team in the country when they take on the Eagles again at Bird Arena on Saturday night. The second game in the weekend series is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.