For highlights from the Bobcats' loss to Lindenwood on Saturday, March 13, 2021, check out the video above by WOUB Bobcat Sports Showcase reporter Zach Paquette.

Ohio Bobcats Hockey: Lindenwood Gets Its Revenge, Defeats Ohio on Bobcats’ Senior Night

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — After Ohio spoiled Lindenwood’s undefeated season while picking up their second win of the season on Friday, the Lions returned the favor on Saturday by beating the Bobcats on their senior night.

With a young squad, the team celebrated only five seniors, three of which got regular playing time. For captains Kyle Craddick and Shawn Baird, backup goaltenders Jackson Chillberg and Mason Koster, and defenseman Timmy Thurnau, their time playing in Bird Arena will come to a close.

“I’ve only been here for two years and all five of those guys are great people,” said Ohio hockey head coach Cole Bell. “I wish I had the opportunity to spend more time with them and just enjoy being around them. We’re gonna miss them when they’re gone for sure.”

This game was also a special occasion because it is the first time Ohio could have fans. Besides media personnel, the arena allowed the families of the five seniors to attend and cheer on the Bobcats.

When the players hit the ice, one could tell that these teams were rivals if they never followed them. Within the first five minutes of the game, an Ohio player had a Lindenwood player in a chokehold.

The first period was mostly spent in Lindenwood’s zone with Ohio probing to find an opening goal. The sport itself is physical, but it felt like the body checks the players sent had a little more power in them than normal. Ohio created plenty of chances, including a 2 v. 1 breakaway opportunity, but the Bobcats could never capitalize, leaving the score knotted up at zero heading into the first intermission.

To open the second period, Ohio got more aggressive with more shots on target, but they also became more vulnerable. Senior goaltender Mason Koster who got the start Saturday came in clutch stopping some tough shots from the Lions. He was later replaced by fellow senior Jackson Chillberg halfway through the period.

The game got more and more chippy, and it felt almost back to normal with the limited fans criticizing the referees and heckling the opposing team. The tenacious atmosphere came to a boiling point when Lindenwood goaltender Stephen Friedland took an Ohio player’s stick, stomped on it multiple times with his skate, and then tossed it nonchalantly away.

Hockey sticks are very expensive, and this increased the animosity of the Bobcats and their fans tenfold. Knowing the intensity of this rivalry, the referees called penalties pretty tight to avoid escalating the situation to an all-out brawl.

Ohio Hockey vs. Lindenwood
Ohio split its two-game weekend series against Lindenwood on the weekend of March 12-13, 2021. (Photo: Chris J. Day).

With less than a minute until the end of the period, Lindenwood found their poachers goal ending a streak of Ohio keeping a clean sheet for nearly 100 minutes. The Bobcats went to the locker room for the second intermission angry and now hungry for an equalizer.

Ohio has had a tendency to derail late in games after conceding, and it nearly happened again if were not for an extended kick save from Jackson Chillberg less than a minute into the third period.

The atmosphere neglected to relax as scuffles and trash talking ensued throughout the game. With 11 minutes to go, the Bobcats’ stellar play was finally rewarded as Andrew Sacca laid the puck back on a platter for senior captain Kyle Craddick to slide it home to tie the game up at one apiece.

With less than four minutes to go in regulation, Ohio was awarded a two-minute power play. This was a golden opportunity for the Bobcats find the game winner while being up a man, but like many chances they have had, Ohio came up empty.

Shortly after Lindenwood came back to full strength, the Lions scored off of a face off in Ohio’s zone with a minute and a half left. This dagger sealed the deal as Lindenwood defeated Ohio in heartbreaking fashion for the Bobcats 2-1.

Despite the loss, the Bobcats showed incredible progress compared to performances they have had earlier in the season.

“I think if you just look at the whole weekend, we found out who we are [and] what we’re capable of,” said coach Bell. “There’s not a single thing I would change about the way we executed or competed tonight.”

The Bobcats have an additional game added to their schedule, and will face Mercyhurst at home on Tuesday.