Updated Sat, Feb 1, 2014 11:22 am
After the two teams combined for eight goals in the first two periods, it seemed fitting that the back-and-forth contest would be settled by a one goal period.
Just one goal, a bouncing puck that squirted into the net at 15:21 of the third period, was the difference as the No. 8 Ohio Bobcats took down the No. 2 Robert Morris Eagles for the second time this season.
It wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but the redirected puck that flicked from the stick of Ohio defenseman Paul Sergi was enough to his team its first lead of the game and the eventual 5-4 final score.
The Eagles’ coaching staff and fans were up in arms while Ohio was celebrating what would be the game-winning goal, arguing that the goal should have been disallowed.
“They wanted a high-sticking call, which would have been the case, but it was their guy who knocked it in,” said Ohio head coach Jonathon Sheridan. “There were two guys in front of the net. [Nathan] De La Torre was in front, and [Robert Morris] had a guy there, and their guy knocked it down. If it wasn’t their player who hit it, they’d have an argument, but lucky for us they did it to themselves.”
The loss was Robert Morris’ first on home ice all season, as the Eagles were 13-0-0 coming into Friday’s game at The Edge Ice Arena. Not only are the Bobcats now responsible for the only time the Eagles failed to outscore an opponent at home, Ohio also accounts for half of Robert Morris’ regulation losses for the 2012-13 campaign.
“We get up for good teams, we get excited to play guys that are ranked ahead of us,” Sheridan said. “I don’t think we played our best game, but we have a history with these guys and it always seems to be a good game when we meet, and we always get up for rivalry games.”
This particular chapter of this rivalry may have ended thanks to defenseman Sergi’s game-winner, but it wasn’t his only goal of the night. Sergi netted the Bobcats’ second goal of the contest to tie the game 2-2 at the time.
Sergi’s two-goal effort also doubled his goal total on the season to four.
“[Sergi] had the biggest smile on his face after the game. That’s what cool about our team, we don’t have to rely on one guy to get all of our goals for us, we can look to any guy on the bench to get a big goal and this was a big night for ‘Serg.’”
The first half of the game was a traditional table tennis hockey game, with both teams swapping scoring opportunities at both ends of the ice and responding to each other’s goals with markers of their own.
The Eagles jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, only to have Ohio tie it later in the period. 2-1 Robert Morris early in the second, only to be equalized minutes later.
Just after the Eagles managed a shorthanded goal to take a 4-2 lead in the second period, Ohio’s Logan Pfeffer quickly struck back to bring the Bobcats within one goal and stifle any momentum gained by Robert Morris after scoring while playing a man short.
“That was a big moment for us,” Sheridan said, “I was proud of how our guys responded after we went down by two. We didn’t hang our heads.”
De La Torre would go on to erase the deficit and tie the game again in the waning seconds of the second period to make it 4-4.
Ohio will attempt to hold off Robert Morris from clinching the CSCHL regular season title for one more game when the face-off against the Eagles for the second time of the weekend series at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night.