Ohio University went against the Pittsburgh Panthers in Bird Arena at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, on February 3, 2017. The bobcats won 9-0.

Ohio Can’t Convert Last-Minute Chance in Loss to Illinois

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On the road, the No. 2 Ohio Bobcats knew they would have a tough test and could be missing some of their key players. The Bobcats came out hot though against No. 15 Illinois to take a few early leads but Illinois was able to stay in it until the final period.

The Fighting Illini had not been able to take the lead at any point in this game but that changed with 5:05 left. Illinois freshman Robert Ernsting found the back of the net for his second goal and gave the Fighting Illini take the lead 5-4.

With 1:18 left, Aaron Dusek for Illinois was sent to the penalty box for slashing, giving Ohio an opportunity to tie this game up. The Bobcats were not able to capitalize on the power play though and lost by just one goal, 5-4.

Coming into to this game against Illinois, the Bobcats were unsure if they would have all their players after a fight against the Pittsburgh Panthers last Saturday night. Six players for the Bobcats where given DQ’s, which meant they could be facing a one game suspension. This one game suspension was set to go into effect in the next game.

Ohio appealed the suspensions though and the ACHA released that only one of the Bobcat players involved in the brawl will serve that one game suspension, sophomore forward Gabe Lampron.

So Ohio was without Lampron because of the suspension but also two key players who came off the ice last Saturday due to injury. Gianni Evangelisti and Tom Evans both suffered knee injuries against Pitt.

Evangelisti is the Bobcats leading scorer and Evans who is a key defenseman. Coach Sean Hogan will be back to coaching the Bobcats after coaching the U.S. Men’s National University Team in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

In the last meeting between these teams they split a two-game series. The Bobcats came out with the victory 7-2 in the first game, but dropped a close second game by the score of 1-0.

Coming into this game Ohio was averaging five goals per game and they did not waste anytime living up to that stat. Garret Jenkins finds the back of the net off a Fighting Illini turnover just three minutes into the game. Ohio wasn’t done scoring in the first period. Austin Heakins scored with 7:54 remaining and the Fighting Illini were not able to take advantage of scoring opportunities and went into the intermission down 2-0.

An early penalty on Austin Heakins in the second period gave Illinios their first power play of the game but they were unable to capitalize. Even though they were not able to score on the penalty play, Robert Ernsting scored with 11:14 to go in the second to make it 2-1. A few minutes later Illinois tied it up with a power play goal by Eric Cruichshank with 9:11 to go in the second period.

With the game tied the Bobcats were feeling a momentum shift. Illinois Austin Zima was sent to the penalty box and Ohio’s Gerret Heakins scored his second goal of the game and gave the Bobcats a 3-2 lead. That lead wouldn’t last long, Eric Saulters ties the game back up with 7:17 remaining.

Later in the second period Cody Black scored a shorthanded goal for the Bobcats and Ohio went into the second intermission leading 4-3.

James McGing scored Illinois’s second power play goal of the game making it 4-4 with 17:10 remaining in the third period.

The Bobcats will look to split the two-game series with a victory Saturday night.