Ohio has, for the most part, moved on from last Saturday's 5-4 loss to Illinois in the semifinals of Central States Collegiate Hockey League postseason tournament.

Senior and team captain Jake Faiella told his teammates after the game that they should spend 30 minutes thinking about the defeat, then move on.

Faiella's message was likely easier said than done for Ohio. Some of the Bobcats probably haven't even checked to see who won the divisional championship game on Sunday between Illinois and Lindenwood inside Ohio University's own Bird Arena, which hosted the tournament. Lindenwood won 4-1.

But the Bobcats are not in any unfamiliar territory as they prepare for their first win-or-go-home game in the American Collegiate Hockey Association's national tournament on March 9 in Columbus. 

Ohio is heading into the national tournament with just one win in its last four games and a one-and-done in its divisional playoffs.

When was the last time that happened? 

Just a year ago, the Bobcats won their first three games in the national tournament, which was also in Columbus, before losing in the championship game.

Ohio was also ranked No. 3 in the nation prior to last season's national tournament and secured a crucial first-round bye. This year, the Bobcats are ranked No. 4 and have another first-round bye (the top four spots in the national rankings secure the bye in the national tournament).

The bye means that Ohio will play either No. 13 University of Nevada, Las Vegas or No. 20 Drexel as the two teams will fight for the second round on March 8 while the Bobcats enjoy the additional day off.

If the Rebels advance, the Bobcats know they can beat them — they swept UNLV with a combined 10-2 score in two games last October in Athens. 

If Drexel advances, well, Ohio hasn't lost to an opponent ranked outside No. 15 in the nation all season.

Perhaps most importantly, the Bobcats will likely have as healthy of a roster as they've had all season. And, with a thunderous knock on wood from coach Sean Hogan's desk, hopefully no injuries arise in the practices leading up to nationals.

The only injury concern the Bobcats have right now is with defenseman Nick Grose (upper-body injury), who missed Saturday's game.

Ohio skated 13 forwards in Saturday's loss for the first time since Sept. 23. While the Bobcats' additional roster depth may not have been a factor Saturday, it certainly won't hurt them if they want to make another deep run in the national tournament, where the winner will have to play at least four games in five days.

“You have to overcome adversity at some point,” Hogan said after Ohio's double-overtime loss to Lindenwood in the CSCHL tournament last season.

Hogan couldn't have expected that his team would be doing nothing but that a year later, and Saturday's loss will only add to the pile of challenges Ohio has faced this season.

But as the Bobcats move past Saturday's defeat, they will be shifting toward a national-tournament atmosphere containing a lot more familiarities than differences from a year ago.



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