Bobcats fall short in OT to Illinois

The Ohio Bobcats hockey team tied the Illinois Fighting Illini in the final seconds of the game Friday night, only to fall short in overtime, 3-2.

The game had a very clean, even start to it. Neither team committed a penalty, and both teams ended the first period with 10 shots each. However, the Fighting Illini got the advantage in the scoring department when Austin Bostock found the net after passes from Daniel Kerr and Mike Evans. Illinois would take the 1-0 lead into the second period.

Although Ohio put up the same number of shots as Illinois, they had a fair amount of turnovers in the offensive zone, which cost them more opportunities to score.

“I thought we came out a little slow in the first ten minutes,” Ohio head coach Dan Morris said. “But we adjusted really well after that.”

In the second period, the Bobcats were forced to go on the penalty kill less than one minute in, but were able to fight off the Illini powerplay, building momentum. Less than three minutes after their penalty, Ohio drew a tripping penalty on Bostock, getting their first powerplay of the night.

“I think that (penalty kill) gave us some confidence,” Morris said. “I give our guys a lot of credit.”

The Bobcats had the shots, just not the goals. Even after the powerplay ended, Ohio cut down their turnover numbers and increased their shots on goal. Their strong attack triggered another Illinois penalty.

This time, the Bobcats took advantage of it.

Brett Agnew scored than fifteen seconds into the powerplay to tie the game at one, thanks to an assist from Tyler Benson.

The Bobcats wouldn’t let up after that for the rest of the period, outshooting Illinois 14-4 in the second. Although goalie Nick Clarke was making the saves Illinois was looking for, the Bobcats were outplaying Illinois offensively.

In the third, it was the Illini who came out attacking, putting shots on Ohio’s Fedor Dushkin throughout the period. After one shot went off Dushkin’s pad, Illinois crashed the net and went after the big rebound. The puck ended up on JT Turner’s stick and behind Dushkin, giving Illinois a 2-1 lead. Illinois kept attacking and dominated most of the third, but Ohio started putting pressure on in the final five minutes of the third. Still, even with their good attack, they couldn’t put anything past Clarke, who had 32 saves on the night.

“There wasn’t any frustration in our players. They stayed with it and knew that it was just a matter of time,” Morris said.

That time eventually came. With under a minute to play, Ohio pulled Dushkin to get the extra attacker on the ice. The six-on-five-strategy paid off when Jonathan Gulch tied the game with a shot from the blue line with 36 seconds left.

The game went into overtime, but didn’t last long after Bostock scored just 33 seconds in to give his team the 3-2 victory.

“I told them that I know it’s tough looking at the scoreboard after the game,” Morris added. “But from a coaching standpoint I was satisfied with our effort and look forward to us getting better.”

The Bobcats will try to even the series Saturday when they take on Illinois at 7:30.

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