The Ohio Bobcats hockey team (10-4-1) defeated the Indiana Hoosiers (4-6-1) 4-1 on Friday night despite 30 minutes of penalties, two game disqualifications and a slow start.
“It was expected to come in a little slow,” said head coach Jonathan Sheridan. “We took it easy in practice after having two games last weekend, so we really didn’t go that demanding on the guys. So it was kind of expected to just weather the storm going through it, then once they got their legs back it was good to go.”
Officiating took its toll just over halfway through the first period when Indiana’s Nick Lucy stole the puck and deked by Aaron Alkema for what appeared to be the first goal of the game. The goal was immediately waved off due to an interference penalty away from the puck.
The momentum shifted from there, and only two minutes later Brett Agnew carried the puck to the front of the net around the defender. His shot was deflected off a stick and stopped short, but constant pressure from Michael Harris and Liam Geither eventually pushed it past the goaltender.
The referee made another big call two minutes later when a shot by Patrick Spellacy was blocked away to Brett Agnew. As he cut across the middle with a backhand shot, Matt Hartman was shoved into the goaltender. Goaltender interference was called and the goal was waved off, though no penalty was called.
Early in the second period was when things got much more physical. Matt Hartman was ejected only 26 seconds into the period after delivering a hit that was deemed illegal contact to the head by the referee. That would be the first five minute penalty kill the Bobcats faced, and managed to kill off.
“[The penalty kill] did great tonight,” Sheridan said. “That’s something we’ve been working on. It hasn’t been that good for us lately, so to see it be successful is pretty nice.”
Halfway through the period the Bobcats scored another goal when Mike Kretz drove by the defense on the left side and tossed a shot toward the far side. The kick save put the puck into open space on the right side as the Bobcats crashed the net. David Ramos was able to get his stick on it and put it by the goaltender for the 2-0 lead.
Just over three minutes later, the game started to get ugly. Derek Rahme held the puck deep in the offensive zone against the boards and was surrounded by three Hoosiers. He was held up by two as the third took the puck away. For a few moments beyond that, the two Indiana players continued to push and poke at Rahme, drawing a roughing call.
“He’s a good player and puts the puck on the net when he gets the chance and he’s a big guy,” said Sheridan about Rahme. “Personally I don’t know why you go after the big guy, but he’s always in the mix so he’s around the puck a lot. When you’re around the puck guys tend to come after you.”
Immediately after that call, the Hoosiers won the faceoff and sent the puck back to John Gerhan. Spellacy charged at him and delivered a bone shattering hit that put Gerhan’s head into the boards and knocked out his mouth guard. While Gerhan struggled to his feet, Spellacy was given a game disqualification and another five-minute major for the Bobcats.
Over six minutes into the third period, the Bobcats were on the board again. Having held the puck for the majority of the period, the Hoosiers defense was tired and the goaltending struggled to keep up. Joe Breslin took the puck behind the net and gave it to David Ramos in front, but the save was made. The goaltender couldn’t find the puck, but Tom Whetsel could and managed a backhand shot that sailed past the glove hand.
The period then featured big hits, including a sandwiching play from Kretz and Rahme, but the action didn’t take off until the final four minutes. At a stoppage in play the Hoosiers and Bobcats started a near fight that gave the Hoosiers a powerplay. It led to the only goal for the Hoosiers off a deflection by Gerhan.
“Alkema’s been great, and he had another good one tonight,” Sheridan said. “I think the guys in front of him helped him out a lot by blocking shots, which is what we wanted, but when we need a big save, he’s there for us.”
With only one minute remaining, the Bobcats took away the game with a goal by Liam Geither. He carried the puck in on the left side and used his speed to get by the defense and shock the goaltender with a backhand shot just barely over the shoulder.
After the win, the Bobcats are now 3-2-0 in conference play. The Bobcats will face the Hoosiers again on Saturday night at Bird Arena.