Illinois: Take Two

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On Nov. 2, the Ohio Bobcats Hockey team faced off against Illinois in Champaign on a record-breaking night. Unfortunately for the Bobcats it was not a positive record. Ohio lost 0-5. This was the first time is two years that the Bobcats have played a game without scoring at least one goal.

To say that that series against Illinois was a tough one would not be doing the Fighting Illini justice. The Bobcats fought back the next day and won 3-1 but it was still a hard fought battle. This weekend Illinois comes to Ohio’s Bird Arena for a rematch.

“I’m really excited take them on again. I have a lot of close friends on the team, they’re very good and I’m hoping to pay them back for them beating us on that Friday game,” said Fedor Dushkin, Ohio goaltender.

Dushkin and the Bobcats will certainly have their hands full with the goaltender in the opposing net, Nick Clark. Clark is the reason Ohio failed to score on Nov. 2 for the first time in two years, and he’s also a friend of Dushkin’s.

“He’s been my friend since we started playing hockey. We’ve been playing travel hockey together for close to ten years and we’re really good friends so we always talk before the games,” said Dushkin with a smile. “He’s a great goalie, he’s one of the best in the league right now. It should be exciting and we’ll definitely make him sorry he came to Ohio for sure.”

Besides Clark, there were other factors working against the Bobcats for their Friday game. “We left really early, around 6 and we didn’t eat until 2. Plus we didn’t sleep at all on the bus.” Said Dushkin. The team was also down three of its best players for the first meeting with Illinois—Nick Rostek, Brett Agnew and Jonathan Gulch. This made a negative impact on the team according to top scorer Michael Harris.

“They’re three of our top veteran returners. Since we have a young team, we look for that veteran leadership,” said Harris. “We didn’t have it that game but it’s just a combination of a lot of things that caused the loss of that game.”

Lately the Bobcat hockey team has had trouble putting together complete games; t has lost three of its last five games after starting the season 11-0. A lack of constant style and frequent mental problems seem to be a big part of these losses.

“We’re kind of off our game. We have been playing a mishmash of different hockey styles. We haven’t bonded completely and I think the stronger teams are exploiting that,” said Dushkin. His teammate Tom Whetsel went on to talk about the Bobcat’s mental problems on the ice.

“We’ve had a lot of reoccurring mental breakdowns where we’re not playing in the structure in which we practice and that’s what lets the goals in over and over again,” said Whetsel.

However, even with these recent problems, the team is optimistic about the rematch this weekend.

“I feel pretty confident about them coming back to our ice since we have a bigger advantage with our smaller rink compared to their bigger rink.” Said Whetsel.

Harris believes their strong game plan will get them through. They just need to focus and the wins will come back. “We just have to remember what we were doing when we were succeeding and stick that and stick to our game plan. If we stick to our game plan we’ll win games.”

The puck drops for the first game of a two-game series Friday at 7:30.