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Ohio's Matt Rudin takes charge of the puck during a hockey game against John Carroll on Sept. 18. The Bobcats won 9-0. 

Hockey: Ohio's deep roster makes for a tough decision for Sean Hogan

Widespread contribution in the opening weekend gives coach Sean Hogan multiple options against Eastern Michigan. 

Ohio coach Sean Hogan leaned over the skate-sharpening machine in the back room of the skate rental office at Bird Arena Wednesday and tried to figure out why it wasn’t working.

At that moment, he wasn’t thinking about which goalie to start this weekend. Or which freshman would play the most. Or even what challenges the weekend opponent, Eastern Michigan, would bring.

Hogan just needed to get sophomore forward Mike Palasics’ skates sharpened in the next 15 minutes so Palasics could be out on the ice in time for practice.

Unlike the Blademaster, which was giving Hogan fits, Ohio (2-0) is currently a well-oiled machine heading into its second weekend of play and sporting a No. 4 national ranking in the American Collegiate Hockey Association poll. 

“We have 28 players on our roster, and we have 29 good players,” Hogan said. “Everybody can play.”

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That wasn’t faulty math from Hogan. Matt Wipper, a sophomore forward, is currently injured and drops the Bobcats' active roster to 28 players.

Aside from third-string goalie Jacob Bloomfield, who did not play in either game of Ohio’s sweep versus John Carroll, the other 27 Bobcats were in sync for a dominant performance they’ll look to carry through this weekend. 

While many of Hogan’s top contributors are upperclassmen recruited under the previous regime, the second-year coach has brought in several freshmen who are already making an impact.

Five freshmen scored at least one point against the Blue Streaks, including forward Bryan Lubin, who closed Saturday night with a natural hat trick and completed his first college series with four points.

Showing quick feet and some physicality in the corners, fellow newcomer Matt Rudin also had a strong opening weekend with two goals and two assists. He was the only freshman to play in both games.

But the stats from the opening weekend mean very little to Hogan. He has a roster full of capable players vying for ice time, which is why he keeps his roster decisions mainly to himself and chooses his starters day by day.

“It’ll be interesting to see how Friday night goes,” Hogan said. “We make our decisions for Saturday night on Saturday morning after we watch video.”

Regardless of who plays and who is scratched heading into the two-game set against Eastern Michigan (0-0), Hogan said Ohio will be at an advantage having already played a couple of games.

“I think the first period of your first game is always like, you’re a little jumpy,” he said. “You grip your sticks a little tight. And they’ll be on the road, so that’s a little bit tougher too.”

The Bobcats built up 3-0 first period leads in both games against the Blue Streaks and would be primed to roll past the Eagles if they can muster similarly quick starts.

But the question of who will help lead that charge in the first period Friday night, particularly among the freshmen, is not something Hogan is ready to answer yet.

“I’m not sure what’s going to shake out there,” Hogan said with a laugh. “I have to figure this (Blademaster) thing out.”

Then he leaned forward over the machine once more. For at least a little while longer, discussions of his nationally ranked team could wait.


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