Bobcats keeping focus up for Mercyhurst after big CSCHL sweep.
Almost halfway through the season, Ohio hockey’s relationship with its fans is in a good place.
After each game, the players and coaches are quick to point out how much the support of the fans becomes a part of the game and the play of the team.
The Bobcats have rewarded their fans handsomely for their support, beginning their season on an 11-0 run at home.
Ohio (14-2-2) will have a chance to extend that streak this weekend as it welcomes Mercyhurst into Bird Arena.
“You feel it during games, when the crowd gets going, your mentality changes,” forward Liam Geither said. “We go on the road and other teams don’t have the kinds of crowds we do. It’s a great thing to have.”
Ohio is coming off back-to-back weekend sweeps at home, the latest of which featured the Bobcats toppling their division rival Lindenwood, a team that entered the weekend five points ahead of Ohio in the Central States Collegiate Hockey League standings. Lindenwood’s lead is now just one point.
The sweep of Lindenwood showcased a Bobcat defense that was able to keep up its dominant ways — even against a top-five opponent. It was also a sign of just how important home-ice advantage can be to Ohio, with opponents facing an unusually hostile crowd and small ice surface struggling to get themselves into a rhythm.
The newest team to face that test will be Mercyhurst (10-6), which sits outside the national top-25 but carries a winning record and a strong offense. Mercyhurst isn’t a complete stranger to playing highly-ranked opponents this season, after facing No. 3 Adrian earlier in the season and losing one of the games by a single goal.
The American Collegiate Hockey Association’s weekly polls come out each Friday, and Ohio was ranked No. 8 in last week’s before sweeping No. 4 Lindenwood.
“The gap between the great teams and the not-great teams is closing, so it will be a competitive weekend,” coach Sean Hogan said. “We definitely don’t want to overlook anybody.”
Ohio saw another flip-flop at the top of its scoring leaders last weekend, as Joe Breslin retook the top spot on the team with 20 points on nine goals and 11 assists. Michael Harris remains the team’s top goal scorer, with ten on the season, and 19 total points.
The force the Bobcats will key in on most this series will need to be Joseph Tadiello, who leads Mercyhurst with 26 points. They are also likely to get a good look at the Lakers’ goalie Bryan Danczak, who enters the weekend with a strong 2.21 goals against average.
A concern on the minds of Ohio coaches will be any dip in focus following a big weekend like the one the Bobcats just played. Hogan, however, credits his group with not giving the coaches much reason for concern during the practice week.
“That’s part of the challenge for sure,” Hogan said. “But we’re real fortunate this year with the great group of leaders we’ve got. They know what’s at stake. If we stay out of the box and play disciplined hockey, we should have success.”