In the span of his 12 year coaching career, Sean Hogan has had his ups and downs. When he coached at Oakland from 2005-2009, Hogan’s team formed an intense rivalry with Davenport. And it all started because of a rubber duck.
The “Good Luck Duck,” a rubber duck that sat in the Oakland locker room, painted in the Grizzlies’ black and gold was stolen by then assistant coach and current head coach Phil Sweeney and ever since, the two teams have battled for the duck.
While the duck is played for between Davenport and Oakland, this weekend for Hogan and the rest of the Bobcats is just as serious.
“It’s a personal rivalry (to me) for sure,” Hogan said. “It reminds me of my early years of coaching.”
No. 10 Ohio (9-2-1) will host No. 17 Davenport (4-5-0) in a series that has, historically been even. In the last 10 years, the Bobcats are 4-3-1 against the Panthers with the series split 1-1 the last time the two teams played during the 2014-15 season.
For the time being, Ohio remains a short-rostered team as it played with 16 and 15 skaters last weekend due to a lingering injury bug throughout the locker room; yet it swept Liberty on the road last weekend.
“It’s incredible that we won last weekend,” Hogan said. “To have only 10 forwards and five defensemen in college, that’s unheard of.”
Evident that they can win with the lowest numbers the Bobcats program has seen, the Panthers present a new challenge.
“They play a high-flying game,” Hogan said. “They go up and down and up and down.”
Davenport’s style of play however is in favor of arenas with larger rinks, something that Ohio doesn’t have. With less space to operate its “high-flying game,” the Bobcats will more comfortably be able to play their game, with or without a heavy bench.
In its nine games thus far, teams ranked within the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s top-25 computer poll, Davenport has lost all four its games against ranked teams in No. 2 Adrian and No. 6 Lindenwood by a combined score of 24-5.
Despite a lack of offensive production against high quality opponents, goalie Jimmy Thomas is still preparing as if it’s another big-time opponent.
“You can’t take any team lightly,” Thomas said. “Especially one you don’t know much about; we haven’t played these guys in a while.”
Thomas, who last weekend posted a collective .938 save percentage will look to continue to develop into what he called his “role.”
“I need to be sharper this weekend,” the goalie said. “With some of our higher skilled-players out, I need to step it up.”
In recent games the offensive unit has stepped it up and despite a low roster as well as power play effectiveness, the team will have to continue to push through this stretch to be successful.
“We just have to simplify our game,” forward Gianni Evangelisti said. “We can’t get too fancy and we need to have short, effective shifts.”
Bird Arena will be the scene with the university’s dad’s weekend as well as the “You Can Play” organization being present.
“You Can Play,” an organization inspired by former Miami (Ohio) hockey manager’s death Brendan Burke campaign to challenge homophobia in hockey, the Bobcats will be wearing special rainbow pride tape.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a man, woman, straight, gay, black, white or whatever,” Hogan said. “If you make our team better, you have a spot.”
Amid the off-ice noise, the Bobcats' busy weekend gets started Friday night with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.