For six months, Ohio hockey has physically conditioned itself in order to win in crunch time. Now with the regular season finished, the Bobcats will try to prepare themselves mentally for the postseason.
Ohio enters the Central States Collegiate Hockey League Playoffs tonight as the No. 2 seed and will face No. 7 seed Kent State in the opening round tonight.
The Bobcats are coming off back-to-back wins over the Golden Flashes last weekend, but for Ohio to beat Kent for the fifth time this season, forward Tyler Pilmore said mental preparation would be important.
"Fitness is not going to be an issue. We always skate hard," Pilmore said. "We just need to be mentally focused. We need to know what our goals are for each game and each period. As long as we can keep our mental focus, we'll do well."
The tournament is a three-day event that will take place on the campus of Robert Morris University in Bensenville, Ill.
Top-seeded Lindenwood will receive a first-round bye while the remaining six teams play for the right to advance to the second round.
The lowest seeded team to advance from today's games will face Lindenwood tomorrow. The championship game will be held Sunday afternoon.
After last year's second place finish, coach Dan Morris said his team is motivated heading into this weekend.
The Bobcats practiced only twice during the week in order to ensure a full bench of healthy players.
"We have probably the hardest practices of anybody so we're down to two per week in order to help the healing process," Pilmore said. "Toward the end of the year, you get beat up not only physically but also mentally, so we'll use this time to rest."
Although Pilmore said he wasn't concerned about team fitness, Morris said maintaining a high level of play will be important.
"It's very difficult to play three games in a weekend. There's a big drop off from two to three," Morris said. "We have to account for that if we move on because all three opponents will try to wear you out."