The Ohio Bobcats hockey team (6-2-1) defeated the Canisius College Golden Griffins 5-0 on Friday night thanks to an aggressive second period.
The game opened with shaky play from both sides, as it appeared neither team was able to sufficiently hit the net. The Bobcats shots would fall into the feet or chest of their opponents, as Canisius racked up seven blocked shots in the opening frame, but were unable to hold back the scoring force of Ohio.
“We didn’t play very well, I don’t think, in the first period,” said Ohio coach Jonathan Sheridan after the game. “I think we need a faster start. We got away from our system play a little bit, and if we get away from our system we aren’t a very good team. We’re a team that when we play together and we work hard at what we’re doing, we’re a very good team.”
Scoring began with Brett Agnew carrying the puck from the right side into the zone and driving past the defense. The goaltender, Marc Mallare, was drawn out and dropped to his butterfly as Agnew reached around him with his off-hand for a move commonly referred to as “The Forsberg.” The puck was stopped by the outstretched stick of Mallare, but the Bobcats crashed the net with Joe Breslin finding it first and tipping it to Mike Kretz to put it into the wide open net.
“I don’t know if they looked at records or what the deal was, but we didn’t play ‘Bobcats Hockey’ as we like to say,” Sheridan commented. “After that we brought it together, brought them in the locker room and I just said ‘you guys have to figure this out. We’re a better team than this, and we just have to do what we have to do to get the shots through and play our game.’”
It continued in the second period where the teams appeared to get more physical and lanes started opening up. The Bobcats scored their first goal of the period at 13:18 with a pass from Nick Hudeck going around the boards and to Brett Agnew on the opposite side. Agnew scanned the ice, took a couple steps forward, and rifled a pass to the net as Hudeck cut in and tipped it into the wide open space behind the goaltender.
Less than a minute after that, scoring continued with the puck in the offensive zone going behind the net and back up to the blue line. It was tipped, but held in by Scott Fasano in the right side corner along the blue line. He fired a floating wrist shot toward the net, and Agnew crossed by just reaching out in time to get the deflection in over the blocker of the goaltender.
The scoring wouldn’t end there for this period, as only a minute and 10 seconds following their first goal of the period, the Bobcats were fighting it out in the offensive zone. Kretz held the puck in on the left side and put it around a defender to David Ramos along the boards. Ramos cut toward the middle and fired through traffic, ringing it off the crossbar and into the net just over the blocker.
Later on into the third period, the Bobcats managed to finish off the Golden Griffins with their final goal of the game. Ramos held the puck along the right side on the boards, jostling with two defenders and holding his own. Matt Hartman swooped in to grab the puck and fire a shot to the far side for a kick save. Garrett Williams cut in quickly and corralled the rebound as the goaltender was too slow to react and put it past the blocker for the fifth goal of the evening to give the Bobcats their fourth straight victory.
“I think it feels good, kind of struggled at the beginning with a learning curve,” Sheridan said. “New players, new coach, lot has changed. Now I think guys are coming and settling in and figuring out what works for us and what they have to do to win. It’s nice to get a couple wins in, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
The Bobcats finished the game with 44 shots on goal while producing many more that were simply blocked off or missed the net entirely. They held Canisius to 28 shots on goal and limited opportunities until the third period when Canisius managed 15 shots. Starting goaltender Ryan Heltion held strong through the final frame despite big opportunities for a shutout.
“Alkema got his three chances in last week and he played a hell of a job for us,” Sheridan said of Heltion getting the start. “Sometimes you just have to feel out practice and who’s going. They’re making me look good. It’s easy when you have the guys who are putting the pads on. I think Alkema looked a little tired at the end of last week and it was time to put in Heltion. He works hard, he always works hard.”
Possibly the biggest moment of his shutout came on a hard working play in the final moments, as the clock wound down the Bobcats committed a turnover in their offensive zone to give up a 2-on-1 break for the Golden Griffins. The puck was passed from the left to the right side for a quick one-timer, but Heltion was able to make the split save and hold on to blank Canisius.
“It’s a very hard thing to do as a player to get up for games when there’s not a lot of people in the crowd, it’s not a league game,” Sheridan said. “So I just think we need a little more focus going into tomorrow.”
The Bobcats are back in action again Saturday night against Canisius to finish their weekend swing.