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Ohio's Cody Black battles with West Virginia's Vince Fornes in Bird Arena. Ohio won 8-1. 

Hockey: Ohio prepares for another top five matchup, this time against No. 3 Lindenwood

Ohio faces off against the Lindenwood Lions in a top five matchup at Bird Arena.

In No. 1 Ohio’s first practice since sweeping No. 5 Iowa State, the Bobcats finished the session with a grueling conditioning drill that left some players sprawled out at center ice.

Even the nation’s top ranked team still has work left to do.

“The season is long,” coach Sean Hogan said. “No one passes out national championship trophies in October, so we have to make sure that each week we put that (previous) week behind us, and focus on the next one.”

The newly anointed No. 1 team in the country has no time for rest, with No. 3 Lindenwood coming into Athens to take on the Bobcats in a top five matchup this weekend.

“You prepare for them the same way you do everybody,” Hogan said. “As you climb the rankings, the bigger game it is for your opponents too, so we have to be sure we match that intensity.”

Lindenwood (5-1) will roll into Bird Arena on a wining streak of its own, having swept No. 7 Robert Morris last weekend to rise to third in the American Collegiate Hockey Association poll.

Lindenwood is also coached by former NHL player Rick Zombo. Zombo played for the Detroit Red Wings for the majority of his career and was an assistant coach for the Lions’ championships in 2009 and 2010.

“They’re a great team,” junior goaltender Aaron Alkema said. “They have a really good powerplay, they move the puck well around up top, and they have some guys that can really bring it from the point. Staying out of the box is going to be key for this weekend.”

A big part of the weekend will rely on the play of Alkema in net. Against Iowa State, Alkema earned two victories, including a shutout on Saturday night.

Through his five starts this season, he has posted three shutouts, a .946 save percentage and sports a 0.98 goals against average.

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“You come every week ready to play,” Alkema said. “As much of a grind as it is, it’s almost a good thing. There’s really no time to lapse. Every team can beat any other one, so you do the best you can to prepare, and come ready for a battle every night.”

Alkema credits the defense in front of him for his fast start to the season, saying the shutout was a team effort.

“Our defense has done a great job this year. I can’t give them enough credit,” Alkema said. “Even though I’m the one that gets the shutout, it’s a six or seven guy unit.”

“I don’t know if I believe in momentum, but I believe in team’s being in good spots and feeling good about themselves,” Hogan said. “If you’re feeling good about yourself you have a chance to be successful, and right now, we’re feeling pretty good about ourselves.”


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