Ohio Hockey
(Photo: Nick Viland/WOUB)

Ohio Bobcats Hockey: Ohio Avoids Opening Round Upset Thanks to Craddick’s Game-Winner

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Ohio’s opening round of the ACHA National Tournament looked to be all wrapped up thanks to a goal by Nick Erker to make the score 4-2 with 6:31 left in the game, but the Missouri State Ice Bears didn’t go down quietly. Two goals in 90 seconds by Alex Rubin and Josh Bell knotted things up at four with 4:20 left.

The Bobcats didn’t panic and had a long possession in the offensive zone in the closing seconds and it was the captain, Kyle Craddick, who found a shooting lane through traffic in the high slot and buried the game-winner with 26 seconds left for Ohio as they avoid the opening round upset, beating the Ice Bears 5-4.

The Bobcats, who were the five seed in the tournament, were on upset alert against 12-seed Missouri State on Saturday morning, but Ohio came out with a very strong effort in the opening period as they outshot the Ice Bears 15-4 in the opening frame.

The momentum continued on in the second period and the Bobcats came within inches of getting that opening goal, but the puck was cleared out of the crease before it crossed the line. The Ice Bears would open the scoring a few minutes later as Terrance Josephson found the back of the net with 11 minutes left in the second period.

Ohio didn’t panic or show signs of frustration and they found the equalizer 90 seconds later as Drew Magyar tipped in a loose puck in front to make it 1-1. With two minutes left in the second period, J.T. Schmizzi raced into the offensive zone with speed, found some open space on the left side and fired a beauty of wrist shot far side to make it 2-1.

Schmizzi wasn’t done yet. Early in the third it was his pass to Alex Singley that set up Ohio’s third goal of the morning and the opening goal of what was a very chaotic third period with tons of back-and-forth action from both sides.

Overall, this was a very strong effort from Ohio to open this tournament. Usually, it has been the Ohio defense that has led the way for Ohio this year, but on Saturday, it was the offense that came ready to play. The Bobcats tallied a team-high 52 shots on goal and their five goals was the second most they have scored in a game this season.

The defense played a solid opening 40 minutes, but a few miscues down the stretch in the third period made this game a little too close then what it should have been. All in all, a win is a win and this Ohio Bobcats hockey team lives to see another day.

They are set to return to the ice on Sunday morning at 11:15 a.m. EST against one of their archrivals this year, the Liberty Flames. Liberty is coming off a 9-0 opening round victory over Maryville. In the regular season series, the Flames took seven of the eight contests against the Bobcats, however, half of those games were decided by two goals or less. Unlike the regular season, this game will be a win-or-go-home scenario for both teams.

Ohio's Andrew Sacca (18) skates with the puck in the offensive zone during Ohio's game against Adrian College on Feb. 19, 2021. (Photo: Chris J. Day/WOUB)
Ohio’s Andrew Sacca (18) skates with the puck in the offensive zone during Ohio’s game against Adrian College on Feb. 19, 2021. (Photo: Chris J. Day/WOUB)