If No. 3 Ohio (4-0-0) is going to have any amount of success this weekend, it’s going to have to start with two things: fundamentals and Gianni Evangelisti’s line.
In their first road series of the year last weekend, the Bobcats got away from what fans and media are accustomed to seeing.
While Ohio swept Navy, the Bobcats struggled in multiple phases of the game. The wake-up call, might have happened in week two.
“After the Navy trip I learned that we really need to get back to our game plan,” coach Sean Hogan said. “We’re getting back to our process and I’m feeling really good about that.”
It was evident that Ohio was getting back in its process at practice this week. The team’s energy was high, guys were communicating and as simple as it seems, they were just out there playing hockey.
“Ever since Monday our practices have been phenomenal,” defenseman Jake Faiella said. “We feel like we’ve got a lot of energy; guys are flying and guys are doing the right things.”
That loose, but focused energy will have to fuel the Bobcats this weekend as their most difficult opponent they’ve faced yet in the No. 14 Jamestown Jimmies (1-3-0). Puck drop will be on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Bird Arena.
With a record of 1-3-0, it could seem that this series shouldn’t be as tough as the team is making it out to be.
Jamestown hung tough with No. 2 Minot State, last weekend, and while they got swept, the Jimmies lost the games 1-0 and 3-1, respectively. Ohio will have its hands full this weekend as Jamestown has a size advantage over the Bobcats. Where they lack in size, Evangelisti believes they’ll make up for in speed.
“Hopefully bigger guys mean they aren’t as fast,” Evangelisti said. “If we can beat them wide and use Bird Arena to our advantage we should be okay.”
One of the faster players on the team, Evangelisti, along with Bryan Lubin are tied for first in terms of total points. With seven points, Evangelisti credits his success to his line mates.
“Rudy is really, really good on the forecheck and Harkins gets those nice passes in the slot,” Evangelisti said. “I think a lot of credit goes to those guys.”
Evangelisti’s line consisting of himself, Tyler Harkins and Matt Rudin, has had much offensive production this season with the three having a combined 16 total points in four games.
“That whole line is probably our best line,” Hogan said. “When they’re going, we’re pretty tough to beat.”
If the Bobcats' best line can get rolling early, as well as if the team can bring the energy from practice into the weekend, it could be a long stay for the Jimmies.
A major if, but if that happens, Ohio could tap into something special once again this year, but for now, its focus is on beating Jamestown.