Photo Cred: Hannah Stier

Bobcats Will Face Tough Environment at Liberty

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While most Ohio University students will be getting ready to celebrate Halloween this weekend in Athens, the fifth-ranked Ohio Bobcats will once again hit the road for a showdown with a team the Bobcats are familiar with, the 16th-ranked Liberty Flames.

Even though Ohio and Liberty are not in the same conference and have no real ties to one another, these two ACHA hockey programs have battled it out several times over the years and it is a series that both sides look forward to.

Both Liberty and Ohio have gotten off to impressive starts this season, Liberty is 7-1 overall and the Bobcats are 8-1-1, which should make for an even more high intensity matchup this weekend.

“We have to play our game, high energy, we have to hit, we have to play well on the forecheck and play what we call Bobcat hockey,” head coach Sean Hogan said. “If we do that then not a lot of teams can beat us, but if we play low energy hockey then we’re in trouble.”

An area of focus in this week’s practice according to Hogan was the energy of the team as a whole. He thought throughout last week that the team lacked energy in practice, which then carried over into the games and it cost them on Friday night.

In terms of fixing the energy problem in practice, Hogan said, “It starts with the coaches, then it goes to the captains and seniors, they have to provide energy as well so we just started having them being up tempo and reminding them in practice to have high energy.”

This matchup will also be a battle of two teams who play superbly on special teams. Liberty’s power play has scored on 11 out of 31 power play chances while Ohio’s penalty kill has stopped 41 out of 46 power play attacks they have faced so far this season.

Liberty’s power play and the Bobcats penalty kill are both near the top of the ACHA respectively.

While Ohio has faired well in most of the games this season, a problem during a couple of their games so far this year has been getting off to a slow start and falling behind by a goal or two. Senior Liam Geither knows the importance, especially on the road, of getting off to a quick start.

“It’s key that we come out and play as fast as we can and play as physical as we can,” Geither said. “We have to set the tempo for ourselves and take the physicality and make it our own and basically try to intimidate the other team with our speed and physicality.”

Liberty plays in arguably one of the finest ice arenas in all of the ACHA, a state-of-the-art facility that can be intimidating to opposing teams since it can seat a capacity crowd of 3,000 spectators.

Like Geither, Hogan also touched on the importance of getting off to a fast start, especially at a tough road venue like the LaHaye Ice Center, “It’s more important (to get off to a fast start) there than most places,” Hogan said. “A fast start is key for us because we tend to play much better if we can get off to a fast start. The opening five minutes will be critical for us.”

Hogan classified Liberty as a “run and gun” type of team, which means they like to get up and down the ice as quick as possible and take advantage of mistakes from their opponent. It will be important for the Bobcats to limit their amount of mistakes if they want to come out victorious this weekend.

“Overall, coach just wants us to get out there and play the way we can,” Geither said. “We have to get in front of the net and get dirty goals, play physical and play at our speed for the whole game.”