Updated Sat, Feb 15, 2014 11:35 pm
When Ohio was upset in overtime in its first game of the season, Duncan Green, like many of his teammates, left the ice at Bird Arena with his head down, stunned and upset.
September did not mark the greatest start to Green’s senior season in a Bobcat uniform, but on Saturday night against Pittsburgh he played a major role in making sure his final memory from Bird Arena would leave his head held high.
By blasting a slap shot into the Panthers’ net with less than two minutes left in the second period, Green earned just his second goal of the season and gave Ohio a commanding 4-0 lead that ended as a 5-0 final in favor of the Bobcats.
“If you looked on the bench, every guy was smiling ear-to-ear,” Ohio head coach Jonathan Sheridan said. “Any time Duncan scores, it’s a big night for us, but to see him do it on senior night was very cool. It meant a lot to him, but it means even more to the guys to see him be successful.”
The three seniors honored before tonight’s game, Green, J.C. Gulch, and Brett Agnew, combined for five points, but the team as a whole contributed to a dominant effort that saw Ohio register 75 shots on goal. The Bobcats fell one shot short of putting 50 pucks on goal in just the first two periods, and Pittsburgh goaltender Rob Behling made 27 saves in the first frame alone.
“Their goalie played unreal. You gotta give it up to the kid,” Sheridan said. “70 saves in a game? Most goalies don’t see that in an entire weekend, let alone one game.”
Behling finally cracked under the duress of his heavy workload at 5:16 of the second period. Extended time and pressure in the offensive zone by Ohio led to Nick Hudeck stuffing in a rebound to put the Bobcats up, 1-0.
Ohio’s forecheck helped them amass 12 goals in the weekend series with the Panthers, and contributed directly to Hudeck’s goal and several others.
“Our guys stuck with our system the whole way,” Sheridan said. “It’s important for us to get out quick and jump on a team ... Even though we didn’t put up the numbers right away; we were doing things our way, which is always good.”
Tyler Pecka gave the Bobcats a 2-0 lead at 8:29 of the second, thanks to a nice passing play by Logan Pfeffer and Garrett Williams. With an assist on Pecka’s goal, Pfeffer had recorded a point in four straight games and in six of his last seven contests.
“I think [Pfeffer] has really stepped up his game the past couple weeks,” Sheridan said. “I can’t speak highly enough of how [Pfeffer] has been finishing up the year.”
Matt Hartman added a third goal for Ohio just two minutes before Green’s rocket of a shot beat Behling, and then Patrick Spellacy put the puck into the Panthers’ net in the third to make it 5-0 Bobcats.
Ohio goalie Aaron Alkema only faced 13 shots in the game, but made every one of those saves count as the win gave him his third shutout of the season.
By the end of the game, both teams’ penalty kill units escaped unscathed. Ohio managed to kill off three power play opportunities, while Pittsburgh went a perfect four-for-four killing power plays.
With Ohio hockey’s regular season now in the books, the team will play two charity games at Bird Arena next week before heading to St. Charles, Mo. for the CSCHL Tournament.