As Ohio exited the ice and walked into the locker room after its second consecutive game decided in overtime, the players’ exhaustion was much more apparent than how it looked just 24 hours earlier.
All 18 players of Ohio’s shortened team held looks of fatigue after falling to Stony Brook 3-2 in overtime Saturday at Bird Arena.
“I told them to hold their head high,” coach Sean Hogan said. “I mean what are you going to do, right? Three-on-three is a 50-50 thing. I’m just disappointed that it got to that because it shouldn’t have got to that.”
While Ohio played only 59 seconds of overtime this weekend, the heightened amount of playing time spread among the thin roster took its toll as the Bobcats failed to foil Stony Brook’s advantage of having more players available for the second straight game. The Seawolves scored just 15 seconds into overtime on Saturday.
The Bobcats’ first two goals started after quick transitions out of the defensive zone in which Ohio completed a series of equally quick passes that created space for shots.
Those opportunities faded after Ohio’s energy slowly began to wane.
“I think we looked a little tired at the end,” Hogan said. “I thought we played really well in the first period. We did all the things that we talked about. We forechecked hard, and we were making hard plays, and, as the game went along, we stopped making hard plays. We were playing a little timid in the second and third period, and I think it showed.”
With injuries to forward Matt Rudin and defenseman Garrett Jenkins, Ohio had mixed line pairings throughout the game — a “three plus one” look, as the Bobcats had three full lines and two additional forwards who filled in when possible.
But the mismatched line combinations forced some forwards to play every other shift. When the roster is full, forwards get three or four shifts off.
To compensate, they tried to keep the shifts shorter and conserve energy.
“You try to be smart about it,” forward Mike Palasics, who was among the more frequently utilized forwards on Saturday, said. “Just be smart about your shifts, when to change and how long you’re out there.”
With Rudin expected to be out until December with a broken clavicle, according to Hogan, Ohio will have to become accustomed to an unusual number of forwards in the future.
Hogan said the team will take Monday’s practice off as it looks to heal any lingering injuries from the weekend. Forward Tyler Harkins and Jenkins missed Friday’s game, and Rudin suffered an injury to his shoulder after the first period of the weekend’s first game.
“We’ve got to take care of ourselves,” Hogan said. “We’re going to be short every weekend now. This is not going to be anything new, and we have to figure out a way to battle through that.”