Ohio has only been swept twice this season.
Once in October against Jamestown and once in January against Lindenwood. After that October loss, the Bobcats knew a change was needed, and the place to start was with their power play.
Ohio switched from a 1-2-2 to a power play formation in hopes that it would bolster a dismal power play unit. Designed for perimeter shots created by short-to-intermediate passes from the point, the system plays well into the Bobcats even strength play systems.
Aside from its growing pains, the new system has proved effective for the Bobcats, as they post a 20.77 percent success rate through 26 games of running the new system.
“It took us a little bit for us to get the movement and chemistry going,” sophomore forward Gianni Evangelisti said. “After we worked out the kinks, I think we’ve done a good job of moving the puck around and getting good shots off.”
Evangelisti, who has scored four power play goals this season, is one of the many reasons why Ohio chose its current system.
“I think everyone on the 1-3-1 feels a lot more comfortable,” Evangelisti said. “Especially when it comes out to the breakout. We know where each other’s supposed to be, so it makes it easier (to operate).”
Coach Sean Hogan has seen the escalation of the Bobcats power play ascend since its installation and too agrees it works better given their current roster.
“There’s more freedom (to operate),” Hogan said. “We have a bumper player and with a constant net-front screen, it’s difficult to defend.”
Where Ohio has thrived this year has been down in front of the net where a majority of its goals have been scored from.
By running the 1-3-1, it opens up the middle of the shooting lanes for the Bobcats “three” to operate. The “three” typically comprise of defensemen such as Grant Hazel or Nick Grose and one forward like Evangelisti or Mike Palasics.
The net-front screener, a physically demanding but essential role, usually is comprised by junior forward Matt Rudin.
“Having that net-front screener is really important since it allows the puck to get kicked out,” Hogan said. “Or the screen sets up to a guy driving that works to.”
Hogan compared the net-front spot to a “post guy” in basketball; get rebounds and score, or get rebounds and kick it out. While it has definitely improved, the power play still has a way to go.
“We look for the perfect play too much at times,” Evangelisti said. “We pass it around too much and don’t take enough shots sometimes.”
Hogan agreed with Evangelisti and said that the big secret to a successful power play is to take shots.
“You can’t overthink it, it just has to been natural.”
While only two weeks are left in the regular season, the Bobcats power play still has the opportunity to make strides with the Central States Collegiate Hockey League tournament as well as the American Collegiate Hockey Association tournament against the some of the nation’s best.
“We’re not where we want to be just yet,” Evangelisti said. “But hopefully we’ll peak during nationals.”