Ohio Hockey Remains in Athens to Play Robert Morris

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As students at Ohio University depart for winter break, the No. 3 Ohio Bobcats will remain in Athens for the weekend and take on conference rival, No. 8 Robert Morris of Illinois in the final series of 2016.

This week presented a different challenge to both the coaches and players of the Bobcats team, as this was finals week and players were busy preparing for exams all week long.

“My advice to the team was when you’re at practice, be at practice, when you’re at workouts, be at workouts and when you’re studying be focused on that,” head coach Sean Hogan said. “We told them be focused at the task at hand and that should make this week easier for the guys.”

Freshman Gianni Evangelisti also is aware that this is week can be challenging for the team, but pointed out that the team will not use that as a excuse.

“Most every guy has finals or essays due this week but we try not to use that as an excuse,” Evangelisti said. “Robert Morris has finals this week too and they have to travel to play us so they are at a little more of a disadvantage then we are.”

Going to practice, especially this week, was something Evangelisti looked forward to because he saw it as a break from studying and getting to do something that he enjoys doing; playing hockey.

“I enjoy coming to practice during finals week,” Evangelisti said. “If I didn’t have practice I would just be studying all day and probably go crazy, so I know a lot of the guys treat it that way.”

Evangelisti has had a stellar first half for the Bobcats, tallying a team-high 23 points and is tied for second on the team with nine goals so far. He credits his teammates for his success so far this year.

“I don’t worry about my stats that much, my linemates, the older guys, have been awesome so far this season helping me and they have really helped all the freshman so far,” Evangelisti said.

Earlier in the season, Ohio traveled to Robert Morris for their first road trip of the season and came away with a win and a shootout loss. Hogan knows just how important it is to get two more crucial wins heading into the lengthy break.

“It’s important (we play well) for a variety of reasons, first of all if we win both games we will be in first place in the CSCHL and I imagine two more wins would help solidify getting to first but should definitely keep us in the top three,” Hogan said. “Also you don’t want to go into a break with a bad taste in your mouth and we’ve been playing good hockey as of late.”

Being in first place in the CSCHL at the midpoint of their season is obviously not the Bobcats end goal, but do see it as a positive headed into the break.

“It would be a nice little confidence boost and it would make everyone’s break a little more enjoyable,” Evangelisti said after practice. “It will also make it easier to come back and give us motivation after break.”

There is not much of a surprise factor when these two teams play one another. Hogan sees Robert Morris as a very challenging opponent and reiterated his guys were going have to come out from the drop of the puck and play with high energy and intensity.

Though the Bobcats have played consistent hockey over the last few weeks, an area the team worked on specially this week in practice was their power play. Last week the Bobcats had several chances on the power play but were unable to score against Lindenwood, this weekend Hogan is hoping for a different outcome.

“We didn’t have enough movement on the power play in our zone last weekend so that’s something we have been working on,” Hogan said. “We added a new wrinkle into our power play so hopefully that will create some more seems for us.”

Even though it has been difficult and challenging week overall for Ohio, Hogan knows his team will not get any sympathy just because it is finals week for his players.

“There’s no asterisk next to these games that says ‘oh it was finals week.’ We still have to get the job done because regardless of your circumstances you still have to get things done,” Hogan said. “That’s true in life too. At the end of the day nobody cares and they just want to see results.”

The puck drops at Bird arena at 7:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.