The Ohio Bobcats Hockey team took on the Liberty Flames on Saturday, March 6, 2021. The Bobcats fell to the Flames, 4-3. (Photo: Chris J. Day/WOUB)
The Ohio Bobcats Hockey team took on the Liberty Flames on Saturday, March 6, 2021. The Bobcats fell to the Flames, 4-3. (Photo: Chris J. Day/WOUB)

Ohio Bobcats Hockey Playoff Preview: First Round Matchup

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It’s About Time

When Saturday rolls around, the Ohio Bobcats hockey team will take the ice for the first time in almost three weeks. The Bobcats, who were winners of four of their last seven games to finish the season 5-15-0, are looking to make a little noise in the ACHA National Championships as the 5-seed. Their opening round matchup is against 12-seed Missouri State on Saturday at 11:15 AM.

Ryan Howard & Handball & Bears, Oh My!

Missouri State University is located in Springfield, Missouri, which is about three hours and 22 minutes from St. Louis, which is the site of this year’s tournament. According to the school’s website they have a total enrollment just over 26,000 students. Former MLB player, Ryan Howard, is one of the school’s most notable alumni.

Upon research on Missouri State, I found that their club handball team was very impressive. The Bears’ club handball team has won the National Collegiate Handball Team Championship 12 times including seven straight titles from 1993 to 1999 and back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018. Fortunately for the Ohio Bobcats, they’ll be playing ice hockey and not handball.

The Bears finished the regular season with an 8-8-2 record. They come into the tournament riding a four-game win streak after back-to-back sweeps over East Texas Baptist and Midland. Both the Bobcats and Bears played Lindenwood and Iowa State this season.

Missouri State played Iowa State four times at the beginning of the regular season and went 1-2-1 in those four games. The Bobcats, on the other hand, beat Iowa State 3-1 on March 27 in the CSCHL Playoffs. During the regular season and CSCHL playoffs, the Bobcats won one of five against Lindenwood while the Bears went 0-3-1 against Lindenwood during the regular season.

While Missouri State may have a better record than Ohio, it’s worth noting the strength of schedule I alluded to in yesterday’s article. The Bobcats’ regular season opponents consisted of mostly the four teams that are seeded above them in this tournament. Meanwhile, Missouri State’s regular season schedule consisted of 3-seed Lindenwood, 8-seed Iowa State,13-seed Maryville, and other teams that are not in this tournament. From a strength of schedule perspective, the Bobcats get the edge there.

In this COVID-19 restricted year that saw ACHA teams play only a select few teams during the regular season, it is very hard to compare this Ohio Bobcats hockey squad with Missouri State’s hockey squad. They each had their lop-sided losses to Lindenwood and they both beat Iowa State once during the year.

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).

What is not to ignore is the very tough schedule the Bobcats played during the regular season and they have beaten Liberty, Lindenwood, and Adrian once during the regular season. That is something the Bears can’t say they have done. It may also be worth noting that the Bears went 1-3-0 against 13-seed Maryville during the regular season. At the end of the day, Saturday’s game is a one-game winner-take-all series between the Bears and Bobcats. It might be best to throw the records and winning streaks out because if the sport of hockey has taught us anything, it is that anything can happen during one game. Game time is set for 11:15 AM EST.