Photo Cred: Hannah Stier

Ohio Sweeps Series Against Lindenwood

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A good benchmark to measure the success of any team is when they face tough opponents in meaningful regular season games. The No. 2 Ohio Bobcats (16-3-1) faced the task at hand and successfully swept the defending ACHA national champions, the No. 12 Lindenwood Lions, after a 4-1 victory on Saturday night.

“It’s a big sweep for sure, we wanted to get a sweep coming into the weekend,” freshman Patrick Hannan said. “We have a chance to be number one going into next weekend and getting a sweep over a conference opponent like Lindenwood is good going forward.”

Similar to the start of Friday night’s game, Ohio and Lindenwood both battled hard at the beginning of the game but were locked in a scoreless draw for much of the first period.

“We told the guys that Saturday night in the CSCHL is a tough game, especially if you win Friday night, Saturday night is always harder because every team is pushing,” head coach Sean Hogan said.

With 2:23 to go in the period, Ohio was able to get on the board first when Liam Geither snuck the puck past the Lindenwood goalie to put the Bobcats up 1-0.

Ohio’s penalty kill unit, which was strong Firday, got their first look at the ice with under two minutes to play. Bobcats forward Gianni Evangelisti took a pass from Austin Heakins and put a nifty move on the Lions goalie and then deposited the puck into the back of the net. This shorthanded goal gave Ohio a 2-0 lead as the teams headed to intermission.

Just like Friday’s game, Ohio wasted little time getting on the board in the second period. Reilly Moore was able to put home his third goal of the season just 76 seconds into the period and gave the Bobcats a 3-0 lead.

The physical play began to intensify throughout the second period as Lindenwood was becoming visibly frustrated with how the game had played out so far. As a result of the physical play, a total of eight penalties were called during the second period.

Ohio, who works often on their special teams play in practice, got several chances at both their power play and penalty kill throughout the game. Hogan experimented with different lines on the power play, which were unsuccessful at delivering a power play goal, but the Bobcats penalty kill did its job at preventing Lindenwood from cutting into the lead with a power play goal of their own.

“When we were getting our power plays we were already up by a few goals and we were giving guys opportunities on the power play who aren’t normally on the power play so that was part of it for sure,” Hogan said.”

Lindenwood finally was able to get on the board early in the third period, as Michael Lozano was able to sneak one past Ohio goalie Jimmy Thomas. This cut the Bobcats lead to 3-1 and kept hopes of a comeback alive for the Lions.

Thomas had two more great performances in net this weekend for the Bobcats as he stopped 44 out of 46 (95.6 percent) shots faced against Lindenwood. There was some uncertainty about who would play in goal for the Bobcats on a night-to-night basis but it appears the team has found their go-to man.

With 9:55 left to play, Ohio was able to effectively put the game out of reach when Hannan scored his first goal of the season, to the delight of all of his teammates and coaches on the bench.

“It felt really nice (to get my first goal) it’s been a long time coming,” Hannan said. “I felt like I could have had a couple goals already but it finally feels good to get the monkey off my back and now I don’t have to worry about and I can just play.”

This weekend was a crucial one for the Bobcats hockey program, who has aspirations of winning a national championship and it appears as if this weekend gave them even more confidence then before that this could be their year.

“(These two victories) make us think that we can be good but we just have to continue to play better each week,” Hogan said. “We have played really well in spurts like the best team in the country, but sometimes we play not very good. So that’s the frustrating part as a coach.”

Ohio faces one more tough test next weekend in conference opponent Robert Morris before getting a few weeks off for the holiday break. Ending the first half of the season with four crucial wins in their conference is something the Bobcats think will be a good boost going into the extended break.

“It creeps in your mind that break is near,” Hannan said. “But you just have to keep yourself here and keep yourself grounded and focusing on day by day things and if you go day by day next weekend won’t be so difficult.”