Updated Thu, Jan 17, 2013 5:40 pm
At one point this season, the Ohio University club hockey team was the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. No hockey team can expect to go undefeated in a season, especially at the collegiate level of competition, and naturally a few losses appeared on the Bobcats’ record.
Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, the losses have been occurring more frequently than the victories since winter break.
With a 1-3 record so far in the month of January, Ohio must face arguably the strongest opponent it has seen all year in No. 2 Robert Morris.
At the conclusion of nearly a month-long winter hiatus, the Bobcats stumbled into the den of the defending national champion Lindenwood Lions, and had a very rude awakening.
“After being off for that long, it was hard to come back and play a team that good at that level,” freshman forward Vince Nicolella said. “We were just ‘off’ at times.”
After falling to Lindenwood 4-1 and 6-1, Ohio headed north to face-off against the Iowa State Cyclones. While the team was able to cut down on the number of goals against, the Bobcats could not put more goals on the board. Ohio lost the first game of the weekend series 2-1 in overtime, as many of the bad habits that plagued the team during the first semester of the school year continued.
For months, Head Coach Dan Morris has been trying to fix his team’s issues with its transition game. It is still a work in progress, as opponents still continue to generate offense off of the rush.
“We’re still working on our back pressure in practice,” said Nicolella, “Lindenwood moved the puck really well. We’ve been working on moving the puck better, ourselves, but it was really difficult to stop them, especially coming out of the long break. Our transition defense was much better in the second game (against Iowa State).”
The second contest ended in a decisive 8-5 victory for Nicolella and the Bobcats. In their lone victory of the new year, Ohio took advantage of a plethora of power play opportunities to climb its way out of a 4-0 deficit that Iowa State established in the first period.
Now, with Robert Morris in Athens for a two-game series this weekend, Ohio will look to build off of its offensive outburst against Iowa State and continue to improve its transition game.
Every hockey team experiences a slump at some point in the season, no matter how skilled orwell-coached it is. However, with only six ACHA games remaining before the conference tournament in February, the Bobcats must turn their woes into wins and get back into the rhythm of playing like one of the elite teams in the nation.
Home ice against a powerful opponent in Robert Morris may be the perfect time to do so.