The Ohio Bobcat hockey team opened up strong against the Indiana Hoosiers, but saw a 3-0 lead disappear by the end of the night, losing 4-3 in a shootout.
The Bobcats dominated the game early, putting seven shots on Hoosier goalie Michael Reed in the first three minutes. Reed held his own at first, but the Bobcats put too much pressure on Indiana and seemed to never leave the Hoosiers zone. Derek Rahme scored just 3:03 into the game to give the Bobcats the early 1-0 lead, thanks to a nice assist from Jonathan Gulch. The Bobcats kept attacking the Hoosiers.
Ohio was able to keep the puck in Indiana’s zone throughout the period giving themselves many opportunities to score. Once again, Reed was able to make a series of saves for his team, including one high shot right off a faceoff that appeared to be heading for the net. The Bobcats were too much however. Zander Dover scored nine minutes after the first goal to give his team a 2-0 lead.
The Hoosiers called a timeout to try to adjust their strategy, but it didn’t seem to work. They finally put a shot on goal with six minutes left in the first, but Fedor Dushkin stopped it easily.
With under a minute to play, the Bobcats added a third goal thanks to a nice tic-tac-toe passing sequence between Mike Kretz, Tyler Pilmore and the goal scorer, Vincent Nicolella. By the time the horn sounded, Ohio had out-shot Indiana 17-3.
“I thought we played really well in the first,” Ohio head coach Dan Morris said. “But they didn’t fold up and go away.”
Although Ohio controlled the first period, the second period was much more even. The Hoosiers attacked more and were able to put some shots on net. It eventually paid off for Indiana, who scored just a little over five minutes into the second period. Tommy Washburn scored on a 2-1 play with an assist from Greg Rachke to cut the Bobcats’ lead to 3-1. Indiana kept attacking, but Ohio adjusted, and the second period was evenly played throughout. Both teams went on power plays, but neither could find the back of the net on the man advantages, keeping the score at 3-1.
While the first was all Bobcats, and the second was even, the third period was dominated by Indiana. Although Indiana’s Joey Tullis was given a game misconduct, the Hoosiers still found a way to score shorthanded. Joe Siers was able to get the puck on his stick and go on a breakaway, scoring and making it 3-2. Minutes later, this time on the power play, Rachke put the puck over the pad of Dushkin, tying the game at three.
“They attacked and we gave them scoring chances. They capitalized on all of their chances and we didn’t,” Morris said.
Both teams had multiple opportunities to grab a lead late in the third, but the game went to overtime. At the end of overtime, Ohio had out-shot Indiana 45-21, but the score was still tied at three.
After both teams missed in the first round of the shootout, Brett Agnew scored in the second round, giving the Bobcats a chance to win with a Dushkin save. Rachke had different plans, however, going top shelf against Dushkin, tying the shootout score at one. After multiple saves from both teams, it was Washburn who scored in the sixth round to put pressure on the Bobcats to keep the game alive. Gulch was chosen to shoot in the round, but he was stopped by Reed, giving the Hoosiers the 4-3 victory.
“I told them this wasn’t the biggest letdown in Bobcats history,” Morris said, smiling. “Successful teams have these letdowns. It’s not what you do during the letdowns, it’s what you do next.”
The Bobcats will look to bounce back from this loss when they take on the Hoosiers again at Bird Arena on Saturday night.