Ohio Hockey Prepares for National Tournament

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The worst time for any team to go on a losing streak is when the season winds down and the games matter more. For the No. 3 ranked Ohio Bobcats, they will try to push past their current three-game losing streak as they get set to pursue an American Collegiate Hockey Association national championship.

Practice was where the message was sent to the entire team by head coach Sean Hogan, forget about what has happened and approach the tournament with the mindset that Ohio now has a clean slate heading into nationals.

“I told the guys that none of what happened in the past matters anymore” Hogan said. “Our record is 0-0 and whoever we play is also 0-0 because the national tournament is a whole new season.”

This tournament also marks the final time ten Ohio seniors will take the ice representing the Green and White. The whole team knows that the game coming up could be their last, so they are approaching this national tournament with a sense of determination. They want to send 10 seniors, who have given so much to this program, off in the best way possible and that is winning a championship.

“All the seniors have been telling all the freshmen and sophomores that this is their last time and their time will go by quick so enjoy the moment,” junior assistant captain Jake Faiella said. “For most guys it could be their last hockey game, so there is a hunger there to make it far in the tournament this year.”

But everyone, including Faiella, knows that the road to a championship will not be easy because every team has Ohio in their sights. Faiella knows all 28 players must come together as a team in order for the Bobcats to win and advance.

“We have always had a target on our back ever since we were ranked number one early this season,” Faiella said. “We are near the top of the mountain and when you are there everyone wants to kick you off, so we will be ready.”

The Bobcats got their stellar freshman center Gianni Evangelisti back for the conference tournament, but in the process lost freshman forward Austin Heakins. His status for the tournament was up in the air but Hogan is not sure he would be able to make it back in time for nationals.

Ohio will open up tournament play on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. As of now the Ohio’s opponent is unknown because they will play the winner of No. 14 Oklahoma and No. 19 Pittsburgh, who will play Thursday at 2 p.m.

This is both an advantage and a disadvantage because even though Ohio gets to watch who their opponent will be, they only have 24 hours to dissect whatever team is victorious in the Thursday afternoon game. Ohio has played Pittsburgh twice already this year, defeating them both times with relative ease.

Oklahoma on the other had would pose more of a challenge to the Bobcats. The Sooners were 16-8-5 this season and finished the regular season with two losses to a conference foe, just like Ohio. The Sooners’ top scorer, Michael Behm, scored 15 goals and recorded 12 assists and will be the guy to stop if the Bobcats match up with Oklahoma.

Of course, Ohio is focused on whoever their first opponent is, but if they are able to win their first round matchup, they will get a day off in before their next game, which is seen as a huge advantage for the Bobcats.

“It is huge for us to get that extra day of rest if we win,” Hogan said “Our opponent will have to play the night before and it will be a battle and us having that extra day off will be nice and we will be able to get ready for whatever team wins.”

Regardless of who Ohio faces, they are focusing on the fact they have a clean slate and a great shot at competing for a national championship.