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Vincent Nicolella controls the puck at Bird Arena on Friday night. Ohio beat John Carroll 5-0. 

Hockey: Ohio splits series with No. 2 Robert Morris

Aaron Alkema gets shutout in game one, Ohio loses in shootout in game two.

For every team that starts the season with a top-10 ranking, there will come a chance for that team to prove they’re worthy of the distinction given to them.

From the time the schedule came out, it was clear where that test would come for Ohio. It would be a road trip against Robert Morris, a top-five team in the country, on the fourth weekend of the season.

That road trip finally rolled around this weekend, and the Bobcats showed up in a big way, knocking off Robert Morris 3-0 Friday, then forcing overtime before ultimately falling 3-2 in a shootout Saturday.

“We just played the way coach has been telling us to play,” said forward Liam Geither, the only player to score goals in both games this weekend.

“We have all tried to buy into coach Hogan’s system and play as a team rather than as individuals. Guys were fighting for loose pucks, everyone was hitting and just trying to do the little things right.”

Geither was the one to get the scoring started Friday, following a great read by defenseman Paul Sergi who passed the puck to a wide-open Geither. Forward Patrick Spellacy doubled the Bobcats’ lead early in the second, before the rising star Reilly Moore came up with the third goal of the game midway through the third period.

Goaltender Aaron Alkema played an outstanding game for the Bobcats, making 20 saves  and not only handing Robert Morris (7-1) its first loss, but also shutting out a deep Eagles offense that had not scored less than five goals in a game this season

Saturday featured more strong goalie play, with Alkema behind the net for the second straight night, becoming the first goalie to play both games of a weekend this season. After two scoreless periods, Robert Morris got on the scoreboard first with two quick goals on penalty kills early in the third.

The Bobcats (6-2) bounced back quickly, however, when Joe Breslin and Geither strung together back-to-back goals to tie the game at two midway through the third. The game held there until the end of regulation, and then through the five minute overtime period, before Robert Morris ended things in a shootout, 3-2.

The 38 saves Alkema made on Saturday nearly doubled the season-high he set the night before.

Alkema was awarded the American Collegiate Hockey Association Warrior Goalie of the Month Award this weekend.

“(Alkema) played a pretty much perfect weekend,” coach Sean Hogan said. “Both goals they scored in regulation were on breakaways, which were the first breakaway goals we’d given up all year. There was nothing he could do on either of them.”

“(Saturday)’s game was more of a run-and-gun game, which is not our style. We don’t want to get caught playing that type of game.”

aw987712@ohio.edu

@_tonywolfe_

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