As the Fall Semester at Ohio University winds down, the Bobcats’ hockey calendar will come to a close in 2017 as well. Through the first half of the season, Ohio is 15-4-1 with a third place national ranking and a second place spot in league standings.
Despite the success of the past few months and the impending winter break, Ohio has one more obstacle standing in its way before rest and reflection: a non-league series against Delaware.
The Blue Hens and Bobcats aren’t strangers. The two teams played each other last season. Ohio swept Delaware at the start of spring semester with 1-0 and 10-1 wins. Coach Sean Hogan has seen the parallels between a year ago to now.
“This week is always a difficult week,” Hogan said. “Coaching wise, playing wise, there’s a lot coming up with finals week and school work.”
Aware of his team’s off-ice priorities, Hogan changed up the practice schedule to be more accommodating, like he’s done every year during finals week for teams he has coached.
“Obviously we still go hard at practice, we just shorten it another 10 minutes or so,” Hogan said.
The team took a step back from its usual form of preparation. It’ll watch film between two different sessions of practice, a skill set and a team portion.
With a series that marks the end of the halfway point of the season, there is potentially some opportunities for players, such as freshman goalie Mason Koster, to receive some playing time.
Koster, who has only appeared in two games and started one, has mostly taken refuge behind sophomore Jimmy Thomas.
Through 19 games, Thomas has a record of 14-4-1, which includes three shut outs and and overtime win, all over top-25 teams.
Despite wanting players to play, it would be hard to stop the roll that Thomas has been on.
“Jimmy has just been phenomenal,” Hogan said. “It’s hard to switch that up, especially when you have an anchor back there being a brick wall.”
With the chance of winning two more games at the start of the break, Ohio could potentially be at the same spot it was last year at 17-4-1, which has many within in the program buzzing about a return to the American Collegiate Hockey Association national championship.
“I always think that we can a national championship,” Hogan said. “For us and with this team, it’s all about consistency.”
The Bobcats have league and national championship aspirations. But to get there, they’ll have to take care of what’s in front of them first. What’s in their way now are the Blue Hens and a pair of 7:30 p.m. puck drops at Bird Arena.