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Ohio University junior defender, Tyler Benson, searches for an open teammate while pressured by Iowa State University sophomore forward Jonathon Feavel. The Bobcats defeated the Cyclones 4-2 at Bird Arena on Friday, January 17, 2014.

Hockey: Alkema injured, Heltion shines as the No. 8 Bobcats finish strong against No. 10 Iowa State

Alkema injured, Heltion shines as the No. 8 Bobcats finish strong against No. 10 Iowa State

Ohio has been put to the test thoroughly in its first three Central States Collegiate Hockey League series, taking long road trips to face each of its first division opponents this season.

That string of away games came to a close this weekend, as No. 8 Ohio made the trip west to face No. 10 Iowa State, losing its Friday game in overtime 2-1 before defeating the Cyclones on Saturday 4-2.

Ohio’s record moves to 10-2-2, including a 3-1-2 mark in the CSCHL.

Iowa State (9-5-0) began the scoring Friday with a goal early in the second period. The Bobcats battled back quickly, with leading scorer Michael Harris finding the net for the ninth time this season on an assist from Joe Breslin and Patrick Spellacy to tie the game at one apiece.

The score remained stagnant through the end of regulation, even after a goalie change for the Bobcats. September Goalie of the Month Aaron Alkema started the game but left shortly after Iowa State’s goal with an injury. Ryan Heltion replaced Alkema in the net for the rest of the weekend.

“It’s always kind of been my job to be ready at a moment’s notice to go in and give my team the best chance to win,” Heltion said. “I’m always ready to go, and I really like playing under pressure.”

After a period and a half of scoreless hockey, Iowa State scored the game-winner in overtime on a deflection off an Ohio defenseman. Friday was also the first game of the year in which the Bobcats were outshot, as the Cyclones gained a 33-30 advantage.

Ohio fell victim to an early deficit again Saturday but responded more swiftly than it had the night before. After Iowa State took an early 1-0 lead, the Bobcats jumped in front with two quick goals in the second period, courtesy of Tom Whetsel and Mike Palasics. The tally was the first of the latter player’s career.

Paul Sergi continued his superb offensive season with a goal in the third period to put the Bobcats ahead by two, and Derek Rahme added a fourth goal late in the game to give Ohio its final 4-2 score.

Ohio coach Sean Hogan credited the team’s third and fourth lines with a strong performance on Saturday after what he called a “sloppy” start to the game.

“I think that’s the worst start we’ve had to a game this season,” Hogan said. “Believe it or not, I actually think we played better on Friday. Both teams did. What really kept us in the game was our third and fourth line. They were scoring goals and working hard, and that’s kind of what you need if your top two lines aren’t scoring.”

Ohio finished its road trip second to Lindenwood in the CSCHL. Lindenwood will visit Bird Arena in two weeks. The Bobcats begin an eight-game homestand next weekend against Ithaca.

“I’m elated,” Heltion said of the impending homestand. “It’s going to be really nice to be able to sleep in our own beds, play on our own ice and just be a lot more well-rested in general so we can put on a good show for our fans.”


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