Photo Credit: Jeffrey Zide – WOUB

Ohio Scores Early and Often in Rout of Illinois

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Redemption was the word used this entire week when the No. 2 Ohio Bobcats spoke about tonight’s ESPN3 game and they got it with a decisive 7-2 victory over Illinois on Friday night.

A fast start is what Ohio head coach Sean Hogan wanted and the Bobcats did just that, scoring just 15 seconds into the opening period on a goal by Mike Palasics.

“We came out flying, that’s what is important and I think that set the tempo for the entire game,” Hogan said following the Bobcats victory.

Illinois responded to the quick goal by the Bobcats as the Illini added their first goal with eight minutes to go in the period. However, the score would not remain tied for long when Ohio forward Liam Geither cleaned up a rebound while the Bobcats were on the power play and lit the lamp for his third goal of the season.

“I just got onto the ice and I was going to the net and I saw Laffy (Mike Lafrenier) with the puck and he took a nice shot and the rebound just popped right out to me and I just tapped it in and was able to get the monkey off my back,” Geither said.

During the final two minutes of play in the opening period, Ohio continued their first period onslaught as they scored two more times and took a 4-1 lead into the first intermission.

Ohio did a good job, especially early on, of converting off of second chance opportunities when they presented themselves, which is something Hogan really likes to see from his team.

“That’s what I noticed tonight, we came out with speed and if we had a turnover we were relentless on pucks and outworked them and when we play like that we’re really hard to beat, now the key is can you do that consistently?” Hogan said.

The second period didn’t start well for Ohio as they allowed a goal just 82 seconds into the period, which cut the Bobcats lead to 4-2.

Six minutes later, Ohio forward Tyler Harkins was able to respond with his fourth goal of the season, which once again gave Ohio a three-goal lead. Shortly after the goal from Harkins, Ohio converted once again on the power play as Grant Hazel whipped a shot past the Illini goaltender. The Bobcats now held a 6-2 advantage over Illinois midway through the second period.

One thing Hogan liked specifically about the second period was that his team rallied back from giving up a goal and was able to extend the lead they had over the Illini during the middle 20 minutes of play.

“The hardest thing to do in our league is to extend the lead once you get up like that and we did,” Hogan said. “Then they tried to close the gap but we scored a few more to put them away”

Things turned chippy toward the end of the period when Ohio forward Austin Heakins was forcibly shoved down to the ice, which caused a little dust up in front of the Illini net. As a result of the play, Illinois wing James McGing was given a game misconduct penalty and sent off the ice.

Ohio was awarded a five-minute major penalty as well but were unable to capitalize on their extended man advantage opportunity. When the second period horn sounded, the Bobcats still held a comfortable 6-2 lead.

Ohio received another shot on the power play in the early minutes of the third period and senior defenseman Jake Faiella, who snipped a shot from the point, converted the Bobcats third power play of the night and made it 7-2 in favor of Ohio.

During the remainder of the game there were a few penalties called on both teams at the game was no longer in doubt and the Illini players were visibly frustrated with how the game had played out so far.

As the final horn sounded, signaling a Bobcats victory, a fight broke out along the boards near the Illini bench between the players from both sides and it seemed like the frustration had reached its tipping point and players from both sides traded blows as the referees tried to break up the chaos on ice.

After the dust has settled, three players, two from Illinois and one from Ohio were given game disqualification penalties and will miss the game on Saturday night.

Both Hogan and Geither know what is going to happen during the game on Saturday, Illinois is going to come out aggressive and physical to try and make up for a rather poor showing in the game tonight.

“They are going to be heated tomorrow, no one likes to get beat 7-2, especially in the CSCHL,” Geither said. “You don’t like to lose by that amount so tomorrow I expect a physical, fast paced game and we’ll just have to jump out fast and go a full 60 minutes and hope we can do the same thing we did tonight.”