The Ohio Bobcats hockey team (2-0-1) dominated the West Virginia Mountaineers (0-3-0) last night with a massive 7-1 victory led by the play of freshman goaltender Ryan Heltion.
The scoring started with the powerplay entering the offensive zone, where Brett Agnew took a pass from Nathan De La Torre and forced his way behind the net. As Patrick Spellacy came in toward the front of the net, the defender got distracted and Agnew deflected the puck into the net off the defenders skate.
“Any time you score powerplay goals it helps,” said head coach Jonathan Sheridan after the game. “You always want to take advantage of when they make a mistake, and we did that.”
West Virginia would be able to find their rhythm eventually. They got the puck deep into the zone a couple of times with no scoring opportunities coming from it, but found Sam Jarrett open in front of the net trying to spin to his backhand and put the puck around Heltion. Heltion would be able to make the sprawling save though, knocking the puck away with his stick.
The Bobcats managed another goal later in the first from Spellacy off a rebound from a shot by Joe Breslin that the goaltender was unable to locate. They took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission and never looked back.
The second period opened with a lot of aggressive play from the Mountaineers, who held the Bobcats without a shot for over 11 minutes. However, the game really opened up with a hard-working shift from sophomore Tyler Pecka in the offensive zone.
Receiving the puck on the left side, he tried a pass that would bounce off Derek Rahme’s skates for a turnover. Pecka wouldn’t give up, and held three Mountaineer players to the blue line before finally stealing the puck back and dumping it into the corner.
“I think defensively as a whole, we struggled a little bit,” said coach Sheridan. “Our best defense was our offense and we kept it in their zone a lot, and that took away from their opportunities down low.”
Shortly after, nearing eight minutes left in the period, junior Tom Whetsel grabbed the puck behind the Bobcat net and saw his chance. He used his wheels to get free of defenders down the left side, going coast-to-coast and taking a shot low to the right pad side. The save would be made, but Michael Harris followed Whetsel, who drew the defender away from the front of the net. Harris would put the puck just over the left pad of the goaltender for the 3-0 lead.
This opened the offense for the Bobcats, as just over a minute later Tyler Pecka was able to grab a clearing attempt by the Mountaineers and give it up the middle to sophomore Garrett Williams. Williams would attract defenders away and give a backhand pass to Joe Breslin, who entered the zone and sniped it short side to give Ohio the four goal lead. Breslin’s goal gave every member of his line a goal in the game.
“They’re pretty special guys,” said coach Sheridan about his high-scoring line. “They blend together really well. I think from the start they wanted to play together, and given that opportunity they’ve taken advantage of it.”
That would end the second period’s scoring, while Heltion was still able to manage incredible plays, holding off the Mountaineers on a powerplay in the final minute. He was forced to make saves with both his blocker and finally with his glove to halt play.
“[Heltion] played very well tonight, and worked hard in practice,” commented coach Sheridan. “So he deserved the start tonight and did well for us.”
In the third period, things turned toward a more conservative approach. The Bobcats were able to play more dump-and-chase and get the puck deep into the Mountaineer’s zone. While the Mountaineer’s frustration rose, they gave up big powerplay opportunities that would turn into goals for the Bobcats. Ohio would finish three of five with the man advantage.
The Mountaineers were able to bust the shutout in the third period. With eight minutes remaining to play, they took a powerplay opportunity and held play to the right side. Zack LaDuke cycled the puck to the point for Nicholas Burt, who took a simple wrist shot. Sam Jarrett was able to get the deflection and it floated in over the right shoulder of Heltion.
Ohio would score another goal later, and three in the third total, to pull away completely and take home the victory. Heltion had 18 saves to lead the Bobcats, while Harris had five shots, two goals, and two hits to provide an aggressive offensive force.
“Harris really stepped up tonight,” said coach Sheridan. “I think he responded to his poor play earlier, and he did well, did what he needed to do. He shoots the puck extremely well, so we want him to shoot the puck whenever he can.”
The Bobcats will exit the weekend with a solid victory and now look toward next weekend against the Liberty University Flames.