Ice hockey: Bobcats dominate Illinois in a battle of top-10 teams

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Ohio dominated the shots on goal in the game; the Bobcats amassed 32 shots on goal, more than doubling Illinois’ 15 attempts. It was a big win for Ohio as they protected their home ice and remained unbeaten at Bird Arena with a 4-1 victory over Illinois.

After a 48-day hiatus from Bird Arena, Ohio was reunited with its home ice in an intense battle of top-10 CSCHL teams. The fifth-ranked Bobcats looked to keep their 8-0 home record spotless as Ohio hosted the ninth ranked Illinois Fighting Illini, who proved to be aptly named in what turned out to be a contentious game.

Ohio dominated the boards during the first period, but the Bobcats play in the slot was subpar. Bobcat goalie Brendan Madden made an impressive stick save on an early Illini shot on goal. The Bobcats had a power play during the middle of the first period, after Illinois was called on a holding penalty, but nothing came of it.

Illinois came very close to scoring during a power play of their own, after Ohio’s Craig Myeroff was called for boarding. But, Illinois’ play on goal was called off as the referee lost sight of the puck, causing a stoppage of play and a huge break for Ohio.

Ohio had the edge in puck possession during the first period as the Bobcats put up eight shots on goal, opposed to Illinois’ three. As the first period came to a close, the game was scoreless.

The first period was “lackluster,” as Ohio head coach Dan Morris put it. However, the Bobcats would come out of the gates hot in the second period.

Morris explained that between the first and second period the team “really focused on emotionally investing into the game,” and that was extremely evident during the final two periods.

Craig Myeroff more than redeemed himself after a penalty in the first period, as he scored his third goal of the season early in the second period. Myeroff’s goal was unassisted and it came on a power play for the Bobcats.

After chippy play early on in the game, a scuffle broke out about six minutes into the second period, but it was subdued quickly by the referees. Ohio right winger David Veitch was kicked out of the game as a result of the fight.

The game took a hostile turn after Veitch’s ejection; and play was visibly intensified in the second period.

Ohio seized the momentum from the brawl and used it to its advantage. The Bobcats’ Jared Fuhs scored in the middle of the second period on a primary assist from Michael Schultz, Zander Dover supplied the secondary assist. The Bobcats were in obvious control of the momentum as the crowd at Bird Arena was fired up.

Minutes after Fuhs’ score, Ohio put yet another score on the board, as Nick Rostek slapped one in off of another primary assist from Schultz, which was accompanied by a Tyler Pilmore secondary assist.  

Words were exchanged at the end of the second period, and the penalty box was filled yet again, for both the Fighting Illini and the Bobcats. Ohio ended the period with a comfortable three-goal lead, all the momentum, and 11 more shots on goal.

Illinois finally scored nine minutes into the third period on a long range goal from Mike Ursitti, his third of the season for the Fighting Illini.

With under a minute left in the game, Illinois pulled its goalie in an attempt to gain an extra offensive player. That strategy backfired on them as Ohio’s Brett Agnew skated down the ice and scored an uncontested, empty-net goal, his 15 tally of the season.

The Bobcats take on the Fighting Illini yet again tomorrow night at 7:30 as Ohio looks to stay unbeaten at Bird Arena on the year.