Adam Steranko was the only player dressed for the Ohio Bobcats (27-7-2) not to register a shot on goal in Friday’s 8-2 victory over Kent State (7-24-1), a testament to the offensive firepower at hand.
“That’s one of our goals is to get pucks on net,” coach Jonathan Sheridan said with a laugh. “We want pucks and bodies to the net. That’s how we’re going to be successful, that’s how we’ve been successful. There is no such thing as a bad shot as they say. So it’s good to see guys buying in to putting pucks on net, obviously it pays off on the scoreboard.”
It took no time at all for this game to show just how offensive it would be, with a goal just under two minutes in. However, this goal was on a turnover by Mike Kretz giving Nigel Crichton a wide open chance and the first goal of the game.
“That’s just one of those things that we talked about,” Sheridan said. “It’s your focus. I think with the people in the stands, they got a little excited and tried to do more than they should’ve been doing. When you do that, you leave the puck in the middle of the slot for a guy to have a nice gift. Once you kind of bear down, it might have helped us in the long run to focus a little better.”
The Bobcats seemed to use that as a fuel to the fire, as just 42 seconds later a face-off win yielded a chance for Scott Fasano to wrist one into traffic. Joe Breslin got his stick on it and tipped it over the goaltender’s glove, off the post and into the net to tie the game up.
Once again, the Bobcats were able to be aggressive and just 56 seconds after the last score they once again made an impact. Liam Geither used his incredible speed to blow by the defense and steal the puck for a breakaway chance. Shifting to his backhand, he found himself with a wide open net behind a sprawling goaltender and the second goal of the game for the Bobcats.
“Kid has wheels, he can fly out there,” Sheridan said. “I’d argue he’s our fastest skater for sure. He brings a presence. He’s a character in the locker room, on the ice. He knows how to lighten the mood, even though he’s not trying to. So I think when he gets going, he gets a little exuberant in his celebrations and his reactions to things. So I think the guys kind of feed off that, even though they may have jokes on his behalf, it works out for the best and he’s understanding.”
A penalty killed the momentum for the Bobcats, but it wouldn’t last long as they went right back to the attack just four minutes later. While on the power play, Ohio spread to the sideboards and moved the defense wide open. Brett Agnew got the puck to J.C. Gulch at the point to fire a saucer pass to Patrick Spellacy at the left side of the net to punch it home.
“I thought he was our best all-around player,” Sheridan said. “Last night, I think he was our best player, him and Ags were. I think he carried us through, really. How he grabbed the team and put it on his back when we weren’t performing very well and doing what we had to do. He’s a guy that does those things well, so he’s a leader. He’s a quiet one, but he is a leader. Even though he’s young, guys look up to him, they respond to him. It’s good to see that when sometimes we aren’t performing our best, he starts performing and guys start following.”
It took 10 more minutes until the Bobcats got back on the board, but it was worth it. With back-to-back goals, Tom Whetsel scored on the power play and Nicholas Hudek tapped one home to get a 5-1 lead into the first intermission. They would also carry a 21-6 lead in shots.
“It was pretty calm,” Sheridan said. “I mean, you never get too high, you never get too low. They know that there’s still 40 minutes to go. We had some goals going into the game, and they wanted to achieve those. So it’s good to see the guys focused, even though we had the lead. That’s going to pay dividends down the road.”
After chasing out Phil Haywood, the starting goaltender for the Golden Flashes, they went back to work in the second period against Zachary Nowak, the starter from the night before. About midway through the period, Agnew found himself with the puck on the left side and a gaping hole in the defense.
Mike Kretz immediately joined the rush and went backdoor for a one-timer and the sixth goal of the game for Ohio. Six minutes later, Joe Breslin carried the puck into the zone and stalled for an opening. He fired the pass to Logan Pfeffer, who skillfully kicked the puck to his stick and deeked to his backhand for the seventh goal.
The Bobcats would finish the period leading 7-1, while also holding an incredible 33-6 lead in shots. Remarkably, the Bobcats defense held the Golden Flashes without a shot in the entire second period.
Kent State decided it wouldn’t take that anymore, and just 20 seconds into the third period had a shot on goal. It would actually mount an offensive attack that saw Collin Cannister get past the defense for a one-timer of the blocker shoulder of Ryan Heltion for its second goal of the game.
With four minutes remaining, Matt Hartman knocked home a one-timer to seal up the game. Ohio finished leading in shots 51-17, with everyone, save for Steranko, getting a shot at the action. Spellacy had eight points on four goals and four assists in the weekend, and the Bobcats take home a big 8-2 win.