At 6-2-0, No. 8 Ohio has already garnered lessons learned in wins and losses against quality opponents.
Through those learned lessons, coach Sean Hogan believes his team has the upper hand in Ohio's series against Stony Brook this weekend.
“Our advantage is that we’ve been playing against high level opponents and they have not, yet,” Hogan said. “We’re hoping to take it to them.”
For the last two weeks Ohio has faced nationally ranked opponents in No. 4 Jamestown and No. 14 University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In its four games, Ohio went 2-2, swept by the former, sweeping the latter.
No. 11 Stony Brook (6-0-0), while undefeated, hasn’t faced a higher caliber team since it last played Ohio in the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Tournament. The Bobcats won 3-2.
“We need to bring a physical presence,” defenseman Jake Faiella said. “We’ve been doing that the last couple of weeks and if we come out on our ice and play fast and keep hitting them, we might wear them out a little.”
Not only can the Seawolves score, though, but their power play is effective as they have scored 10 goals with a man advantage.
“Their power play is strong,” Hogan said. “We’re going to need to have a strong PK (penalty kill) this weekend.”
Ohio's PK unit so far on the year as operated on a high level at 86 percent, but Faiella and the rest of the defense know it can get better.
“I think (the PK) is improving the right way,” Faiella said. “We’ve had a few unlucky goals but that happens, if we keep doing what we’re doing we’ll be alright.”
In terms of the Bobcats' offense, their struggles in terms of getting shots on net, but no goals, had appeared to be resolved as they scored 10 goals against UNLV last weekend on 84 shots.
“We’re just going to have to keep working hard and getting in the dirty areas,” forward Gianni Evangelisti said. “We scored a lot (against UNLV) in the dirty areas, we need to be there.”
Of the Bobcats' goals this season, all but four have been scored at even strength. The power play has operated at a rate that most Ohio fans aren’t accustomed to seeing in that it has only scored four goals in 38 attempts.
“Although we haven’t been scoring a lot on the power play we’ve had a bunch of good chances,” Evangelisti said. “I think this weekend we’ll be good on the power play.”
For the Bobcats’ sake, their power play will have to pick up. Ohio will play against only two (currently) unranked opponents in its 14 remaining series.
“We’ve (got the) hardest schedule this year than we’ve had in years,” Hogan said. “Every week is a battle, every week is a grind, we’ve got to make sure we’re ready to go.”
No. 8 Ohio’s gauntlet schedule of ranked opponents will begin at Bird Arena this Friday and Saturday when the puck drops against No. 11 Stony Brook at 7:30 p.m.