It could be seen in the faces of the few fans that stayed to see their team skate off the ice. It could be seen in the players’ and coaches’ eyes.
And when No. 4 Ohio skated off the ice, a soberness filled the quiet space in Bird Arena. Ohio lost 4-1 to No. 5 Robert Morris-Illinois in Friday’s Central States Collegiate Hockey League contest.
“That’s the worst game of the year,” coach Sean Hogan said. “That was bad, bad hockey.”
The Bobcats' troubles started early when Eagles forward Alex Anderson scored 53 seconds into the game after a Bobcats turnover a few feet away from Ohio's blue line.
When the puck found its way into the back of the net, the collective breath from the Ohio bench was sucked out.
“That first shift, (the puck) took a bad bounce,” defenseman Jake Faiella said. “We played bad; they outworked us pretty much on every puck.”
Ohio had its chances to get back into the game throughout the first two periods, mainly due to the play of goalie Jimmy Thomas. Despite being outshot 24-13 in the first two periods, the Eagles found no difficulty finding scoring chances, but goals were hard to come by.
“There were only a handful of guys who played well,” Hogan said. “Jimmy played pretty good.”
“He made some pretty good saves,” assistant coach Dan Bremner added.
Unfortunately for Ohio, its night soured further when Robert Morris-Illinois’ 1-0 lead quickly turned into a 4-0 lead with three goals in eight minutes.
“We just started doing whatever the hell we wanted to do,” Hogan said. “We weren’t following the process, we weren’t playing Bobcat hockey — and that’s what’s most frustrating.”
Aside from the play of Thomas, the Bobcats managed little success, including the lone goal scored by forward Bryan Lubin in the final minutes of play.
Ohio’s penalty kill unit also was effective killing all of its penalties.
The best thing to come out of Friday? The fact that it’s over.
“If you lose Friday, you have a chance to redeem yourself Saturday,” Hogan said. “Get back on track and wake up.”
The Bobcats know having a quick memory will only help them in the long run. With still half a season left, all they can do is learn and move on.
“I always say give it one hour,” Faiella said. “Think about the loss, think about what you did wrong, after that hour forget about it. We have another game tomorrow.”
Ohio will look to even its series against Robert Morris-Illinois on Saturday. The puck will drop at 7:30 p.m.