Ohio Defends No. 1 ACHA Ranking

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Ohio improved its record to 5-0 on the year with a 5-3 victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers Friday, successfully defending its newly acquired No. 1 overall ACHA ranking.

The Bobcats wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Brett Agnew put a bad angle shot past the West Virginia goalie just 55 seconds into the game after teammate James Howard navigated his way through the neutral zone with the puck on his own with the help of some crafty moves.

The Mountaineers pushed back hard after Agnew’s goal, converting the adrenaline of playing their first game of the season into solid hits and a relentless, disruptive forecheck.

But the Bobcats would score again exactly five minutes after their first goal.

Jay Mazzarella scored Ohio’s second goal of the evening as he tucked in a rebound created by a hard drive to the net by Brett Agnew.

West Virginia answered several minutes later on the power play when Christian Lewton scored on the rush with a snapshot that beat Ohio goaltender Fedor Dushkin on the short side. The goal came on the Mountaineers second power play opportunity of the game, but it would be their only goal on the man advantage, as Ohio killed four out of five penalties over the course of three periods.

With 3:47 remaining in the first period Michael Harris earned a power play goal of his own for the Bobcats, blasting a shot into the West Virginia goal during a two-man advantage.

At the 4:44 mark in the second period, Ohio utilized the open ice created by four-on-four hockey for patient passing and a cerebral attack as Brett Agnew buried a rebound created by James Howard for his second goal of the game to make the score 4-1 in favor of Ohio.

The line of Agnew, Mazzarella, and Howard, who Head Coach Dan Morris opted to start the game with, proved to be Ohio’s most consistent offensive threat throughout the game, earning countless scoring opportunities and accounting for three of the Bobcats’ five goals on the night.

The second period concluded with the score stuck at four to one, but if it were not for some sparkling saves by West Virginia goalie Rob Borcky, it could have been a completely different story.

The Ohio offense amassed 16 shots in the second period alone, whereas West Virginia only had three.

The third period of action opened with a flurry of penalties, most of which were coincidental minors or power play opportunities that neither squad was able to capitalize on.

Four minutes and one second into the third, Dusty Campbell put a rebound into a wide-open cage for West Virginia’s second goal of the game, cutting the Ohio lead to 4-2.

The Mountaineers shortly went back on the power play, only to find themselves down by three again when Jay Mazzarella set up Jonathan Pietramala in the slot for a short-handed goal. The goal was Pietramala’s second short-handed tally of the year, and his third short-handed point in four games.

A defensive breakdown by the Bobcats left West Virginia forward Matt Mager wide open in front of the net, where he would place a back-handed shot past Dushkin for the Mountaineers third and final goal of the game with six minutes remaining in the final period of play.

While Ohio controlled most of the play during the course of the game and had 23 more shots than their opponent when the final buzzer sounded, the Bobcats escaped with only a two goal margin and several mental errors that Coach Dan Morris will want to correct before the two teams meet again tomorrow at 2:00pm in Morgantown, W.Va.