After Ohio's 4-1 loss on Friday to Robert Morris (Illinois), a game which coach Sean Hogan touted the worst game of the year, the Bobcats needed to find a formula for Saturday that would provide the mental energy that was absent on Friday.
On Saturday, Ohio answered with big hits and a little trash talk to frustrate Robert Morris in a 4-1 win to split the weekend series at Bird Arena.
"I hate those guys," goalie Jimmy Thomas said.
While a night of fisticuffs and vocal exchanges from both sides isn't necessarily a rarity for Ohio, it symbolized the Bobcats' weekend.
Friday, the Bobcats couldn't match the energy that Robert Morris played with in the third period. The Eagles scored three goals in the final 20 minutes to silence a Bobcat team that "gave up a little bit," captain Jake Faiella said.
But on Saturday, the two teams combined for 45 PIMs. Ohio (23 PIMs) may have been penalized a bit more than Robert Morris (22 PIMs), but the feistiness proved that the Bobcats had forgotten about Friday's result.
It came with a cost from a penalty perspective, but Ohio did all it could to frustrate Robert Morris into a defeat and series split. While both sides participated in retaliations in front of the net and some post-whistle aggressions, the Bobcats benefitted from the consequences the most and tallied two power-play goals on Saturday.
"We try to tell the boys on the bench, just keep playing our game," assistant captain Mike Palasics said. "Let them do all the stupid stuff, and we'll come out with a win. That's what we did..."
The forward briefly paused.
"...for most of the game."
It wasn't just skaters who took part in the pleasantries — Thomas received six total minutes of penalties on Saturday, all of which came from three separate penalties just two minutes apart.
Perhaps because he got the last laugh with a win, Thomas had a sly smile when he remembered the heated moments, one of which included him landing a punch to an Eagle skater.
It was admittedly a lapse in judgement for Thomas, but he just wanted to release the anger that was built up from Robert Morris' players playing a little too physical in his crease.
"I covered the puck and their guy came up and hit me," he said. "But he skated to the corner, so I kind of just picked the closest guy and took my anger out on him."
Thomas and Palasics both said the physical play helps with mentally staying in the game, but cautioned that the result won't always work in their favor in the future.
Palasics, a 23-year-old senior with plenty of experiences of such games, knows it better than most players.
And frankly, he's a little tired of it.
"I'm kind of starting to get too old for it," he said with a laugh and then a sigh. "These games where it's 2-1 with eight minutes left in the third, I'm like 'Oh my God, man.'"