Updated Fri, Feb 14, 2014 11:02 pm
As the Ohio hockey team moved the puck around the offensive zone midway through the second period in their Friday night contest with Pittsburgh, everything seemed to be going smoothly. Every pass connected tape-to-tape. Scoring chances were coming like clockwork.
It was almost as if the Bobcats were running a power play for most of the second period, which was odd considering not one penalty was taken by either team until the final period.
Time and time again, Ohio shots would thud off of the equipment of Panthers goalie Matt Schmidlin, or blow past him and thud against the back of the net.
Ohio used its precision puck movement and translated it into an 8-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers.
“I think we cycled it well down low, and when you open up the cycle a bit, it opens up your defense,” Ohio head coach Jonathan Sheridan said. “When the puck comes up high, guys follow, and then you can send it low and start working the cycle again. Our guys recognized that, and it was good to see them come up with their own game plan and execute it.”
Despite a strong performance from goaltender Schmidlin in the first period, Pitt could only hold off Ohio’s offensive onslaught for 14:52 of the game, until Garrett Williams, Joe Breslin and Brett Agnew scored three goals in just 2:25 of game time to put the Bobcats up 3-0.
There was no letting up after that.
“You’ll notice we won by seven,” Sheridan said.
Breslin went on to add two more goals in the contest, one in the second and one in the third, to complete the hat trick, the first of his ACHA career.
“[Breslin] has been going for us all year, so it’s nice to see him get rewarded with a hat trick,” Sheridan said.
It wasn’t just a career night for Breslin, as defenseman Mike Kretz recorded four helpers, assisting in the Bobcats’ dominant puck possession game en route to the highest scoring game of his career.
Schmidlin went on to make 33 saves in the contest, but yielded all eight goals to Ohio, including a sharp angle goal by David Ramos that put the ‘Cats up 5-0 at the time.
“I thought [Schmidlin] played really well,” Sheridan said. “I’m sure he’d want to have that one back, but most of our goals were good goals. We went back door, we crashed the net hard, and we had a few bounce in there.”
Ohio added three more goals in the third period. Williams added his second goal of the night shortly after Breslin capped off his hat trick, and a Nick Hudeck goal that gave freshman forward Adam Steranko his first assist of the season.
Pittsburgh got on the score sheet with only 36 seconds remaining in the second period, after Ohio defenseman Tyler Benson lost an edge and fell over behind his team’s net on a regroup. Panthers’ Cole Snyder scooped up the loose puck and dished it off to Brian Stein to beat Aaron Alkema for the first time
Alkema made 19 saves in his first game back after sustaining a head injury on Jan. 1.
“[Alkema] was a little shaky at first,” Sheridan said, “but it was good to see him get roughed up a bit to see how he was going to respond, and I think he responded well. So it looks like he’s back and he’s going to be ready to go for us.”
Ohio will have to face Pittsburgh again on Saturday night in its final regular season game of the season. The game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop at Bird Arena.