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Ohio's Jake Faiella tries to keep control of the puck against Eastern Michigan's Ryan Faucheux in Bird Arena. Ohio won against Eastern Michigan 4-0. 

Hockey Notebook: Ohio prepares for home-and-home series against West Virginia

Ohio heads into the third series of the year looking to keep its record perfect.

Off to a fast start this season, Ohio will head into a weekend home-and-home series against West Virginia, looking to keep its perfect record intact.

After two weekends of near dominating play, the Bobcats (4-0-0) rose to No. 2 in the national polls for the American Collegiate Hockey Association. They trail only Stony Brook, who like Ohio, also has 13 first-place votes.

Though ranked, the West Virginia series has presented trouble for Ohio in the past, as the Bobcats lost in Morgantown last season on the second game of the series.

“That’s last year,” coach Sean Hogan said. “We have a team who we think can be pretty good, if we stick to our habits, we have a pretty good chance to keep the streak alive.”

Dominating defense

The Bobcats head into the weekend series against West Virginia only allowing two goals through their four games this season. They’re also only allowing, on average, nine shots per game.

“Other teams aren’t getting many shots because we’re keeping them in their zone with our offensive forecheck, and we’re strong in the neutral zone,” Tyler Pecka, senior defenseman, said. “As long as we keep that up there’s no reason we should let teams into our zone and get shots on our goalie.”

Pecka leads all Ohio defenseman in goals and assists with three a piece.

“It’s just the little things,” Pecka said. “I owe a lot to my teammates, I’ve just been in the right spot at the right time. It’s a team effort, it’s not just me.”

Goalies Ryan Heltion and Aaron Alkema have been strong in net for the Bobcats, with Alkema posting two shutouts in his two appearances so far.

“As a coaching staff we have a lot of confidence in everyone right now,” Hogan said. “It’s a good thing to have reliability.”

Tale of the tape

The home-and-home series against West Virginia isn’t new to the Bobcats.

Last season, Ohio defeated West Virginia 8-1 at home, but fell 1-0 in Morgantown. It was the Bobcats first loss of the season.

Looking to avoid their first setback once again at the hands of the Mountaineers, the Bobcats will try to bring their “best game” to the series.

“It’s gonna be a tough series," Pecka said. "We get everybody’s best game, everybody wants to take us down. We just have to come out with the mindset that they’re going to give us their best game, and we have to give them ours.”

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The Mountaineers are 4-3-0 on the season, but have won four of their last five games.

Ohio has been utilizing its offense on opponents' nets this season, scoring 33 goals in the first four games — something it hopes to do this weekend. 

“Right now, everybody is scoring," Hogan said. "Our 3rd and 4th lines are scoring goals. Up and down the lineup we’re scoring.”


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