Drifting left, Brett Agnew crossed to the right, made the cross-over to avoid the poke check from the goaltender and shot top shelf. With that lone goal in the shootout, the No. 1. Ohio Bobcats (8-0-0) stayed undefeated with a 5-4 victory over No. 4. Oklahoma Sooners, on Saturday night.
“It wasn’t a game of mistakes, like last night’s game was,” said head coach Dan Morris after the game, “tonight was a game of execution. Both teams are well coached, it could’ve gone either way.”
The Sooners began the game in full control and they kept the pressure up the entire game when in 5-on-5 situations. Halfway through the first period, goaltender Fedor Dushkin showed his ability to keep the Bobcats in the game, when the shot from the point went toward the net and just missed left. However, Oklahoma’s 6-foot-5-inch freshman Smrke was in position to capitalize on the rebound but Dushkin, without seeing the puck, reached back and fell on top of the puck.
It was that kind of night for Dushkin, who after the first period had already taken on 17 shots, but allowed just one goal. After Tyler Pilmore made a move to start a 2-on-1 rush down the right side, he flipped the puck backhand to the middle of the ice and found Nick Rostek, who rifled it past the blocker and gave Ohio the lead, 1-0.
Oklahoma came right back near the end of the period. A turnover at the blue line by the Bobcats gave Oklahoma a 2-on-1 opportunity of their own, after the pass the shot went high, Oklahoma set up in the offensive zone. A slap shot from Travis McKinney and the rebound wasn’t able to be corralled. Smrke made a move and stuffed the puck under Dushkin’s pads to tie it up at 1.
Earning powerplays became vital in the Bobcat victory, the Bobcats ended the game with three powerplay goals and just thirty seconds into the first powerplay of the second period they struck. Rotating the puck around, Michael Harris set up on the right side and rifled the puck on a one-timer which got tipped in front by Rostek for his second goal of the game.
Oklahoma then came back on a powerplay of their own. With just under a minute to go in the powerplay, Augie Hoffmann took the puck at the point, sent it to Jordan Greenberg in front, who tipped it into the net underneath a sprawling save attempt. Ohio later received another powerplay chance, and this time it was Michael Harris, once again setting up on the right side for the one-timer, sending it home to give Ohio the lead again at 2-1.
On a powerplay for the Bobcats, a pass attempt was intercepted and taken down for an odd-man rush. Mico Solorzano took it down the right sight and sent it across on the 2-on-1 to Jordan Greenberg who knocked home his second goal of the game, this time a shorthanded goal. Nearing the end of the period, Oklahoma got on the powerplay again. Greenberg sent it to Chad Hudson, who fired it short-side top-shelf.
After a penalty was called on Craig Martin for Oklahoma for hooking, the Bobcats had their chance to take the lead back. Once again on the powerplay, the Bobcats cycled the puck around. Tyler Benson corralled it at the blue line and fired a pass to Michael Harris, once again on the right side, for the one-timer. It appeared the save was made, but the puck continued to move around and found its way into the net for the game tying goal.
Opening the third the Bobcats had a big attack, Pilmore made a move through the defender’s legs and sent it to the middle for another tip-in opportunity. However, the puck couldn’t be retrieved off the pass and once again the Bobcats missed a golden opportunity.
“You’ve got to give their goalie a lot of credit,” commented coach Morris. “On the odd man situations, he made an incredible save.”
Entering the final two minutes of the period, Pilmore found himself in a precarious position. Behind the net with the referee attempting to see through a crowd of people, Pilmore fell on the puck and the Oklahoma defender fell on him. That forced a call for delay of game, which Pilmore didn’t seem to like as he immediately jumped up and started chasing the referee, screaming and red-faced.
The period ended, and into overtime they went. The Bobcats came out in attack mode and immediately had two big scoring opportunities. Just 30 seconds into the extra frame, Rostek stole the puck and made a rush for a breakaway, but Holmes took away all angles. Rostek would gain another breakaway chance shortly after, but fired the puck wide. The biggest opportunity to score came with just 18 seconds left to play, as Jonathan Pietramala went on an odd-man rush, passed it off, and waited to the left side. He retrieved a quick pass and shot it toward what appeared to be a wide-open net, however Holmes was able to sprawl out and make the toe save.
“Both teams executed really well, they made very few mistakes, so it’s only appropriate that you have to settle it by a shootout,” said coach Morris.
Into the shootout, Oklahoma started with Greenberg shooting it into Dushkin’s chest, and Ohio followed up with Benson making his move but to no avail. Oklahoma then sent out the freshman, Smrke, who started to the right, moved in to the net and as he attempted to crossover, Dushkin dove forward and poked the puck away. The crowd erupted, and out came Brett Agnew. Agnew did a similar move, but he was able to connect on the crossover by Holmes’s poke check, and hit top shelf to put the pressure on Oklahoma. The Sooners sent out Hudson with a chance to tie it up. He started left and went on a rush toward the right side, seemed to have Dushkin beat, but Dushkin made a superman dive to just keep the puck out of the net.
“Right when it gets into overtime we look at everybody’s pick,” commented coach Morris. “Like Harris is not necessarily a breakaway time player. Rostek is not, Pilmore is not. You look for who has good hands and Benson’s got good hands, Agnew’s got good hands.”
The Bobcats will try to stay unbeaten next weekend in their series with the Arizona Wildcats at Bird Arena.