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Hockey: 'Cats rebound from Lindenwood sweep

Three weeks after being swept by Lindenwood at home and losing any hope of a regular season conference championship, the Bobcats had a second chance at the Lions and took home a bigger prize.

With the Central States Collegiate Hockey League Tournament Championship on the line, Ohio defeated Lindenwood 4-0 to win the tournament championship for the second time in three years and seventh time since Ohio joined the league in 1993.

"There's a lot of pride on both sides," coach Dan Morris said. "Getting beat 5-1 on our home ice was a tough pill to swallow. It humbled us and made us work a little bit harder and we saw the benefits of that today."

Behind the strength of a Tyler Pilmore power play goal, the Bobcats held a narrow 1-0 lead heading into the second intermission. Third period goals by Nick Rostek and Alex DiMassa extended Ohio's lead to 3-0.

Pilmore capped the scoring with an empty-netter for the 4-0 win.

The first time these teams met this season, Ohio goaltender Blake MacNicol gave up three goals in the first period and was pulled from the game.

It was a different story for MacNicol yesterday as he made 22 saves and became the first goalie to shut out the Lions all season.

Morris said a lot of MacNicol's success stemmed from the fact that he did not have to face many tough shots.

"We limited their chances really well today," Morris said. "We did a good job of shutting down their shooting lanes and making sure we didn't give them scoring situations. Our forwards did a good job of keeping the puck out of the zone."

MacNicol had to make only four saves in the third period.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak to Lindenwood dating back to last year's CSCHL tournament finals.

With three goals during the weekend, Rostek was named tournament MVP.

Despite playing three games in three days, Morris said fatigue was not a factor this weekend.

"The coaches did a really good job managing our team fitness and using our players efficiently and wisely," he said.

Three losses in their final six regular season games raised questions about whether the Bobcats had peaked too soon. But Morris said Sunday's game was the best his team has played all season.

"This was the most complete game we've played in all aspects of the game," Morris said. "Any time you get a chance to shut a team down that is as offensively powerful as Lindenwood, I think you've got to say that's a pretty good game."

On Friday, Ohio defeated Kent State for the fifth time this season to advance to the semi-finals.

Ohio led by only one goal heading into the final period of play, by goals but DiMassa and Billy Hemann sealed the 5-2 Ohio win.

Saturday's game against Iowa State presented a tougher test, but two first period goals scored by Rostek were enough as the Bobcats held on for a 2-1 win.

Ohio will move on to compete in the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Tournament to be held at the University of Delaware March 5-9. The Bobcats will hold the No. 3 seed in the 16-team tournament and will look to claim their first national championship since 2004.

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