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Ohio junior Liam Geither trips over a Liberty player at Bird Arena on Jan. 15. Ohio lost all three of their games in Arizona this past weekend.

Hockey: No. 7 Ohio limps into homestand against Pittsburgh

A slew of injuries and a short practice week may pose a challenge for the Bobcats as they aim to sweep the Panthers this weekend

Twenty minutes after Wednesday’s practice was over, forward Diego Breckenridge labored up and down the ice — alone — in his red non-contact jersey. 

Breckenridge had just watched his team practice from the bleachers. He has been sidelined for three weeks with a broken hand. 

Injuries are piling up for No. 7 Ohio (23-7-1), but the team is still hopeful to get back to its winning ways in this weekend’s series against Pittsburgh (11-9-2) at Bird Arena. 

“Just banged up,” Ohio coach Sean Hogan said of his team. “Gotta get through it.” 

Defensemen in question moving forward 

There was a handful of non-contact jerseys worn by injured Bobcats at practice this week, but Bryan Lubin was not in one of them. 

Lubin, a freshman forward who has 13 points in 22 games this year, will be sidelined for the foreseeable future with a separated shoulder. The injury already cost him all three games of the Arizona road trip. 

Others who will be in street clothes for the Pittsburgh series include Breckenridge and defenseman Tyler Pecka, a staple on Ohio’s blue line. Grant Hazel is battling a shoulder injury, too, but Hogan said he’s “trying to play through it.” 

If Hazel can’t play, the Bobcats will roll with six defensemen. Tom Pokorney, who has worked as both a defenseman and a forward, would be required to come back to defense. 

"Hometown friends" 

When freshman forward Cody Black told his friends in the summer that he’d be playing hockey at Ohio, they called him a traitor

Black, from Wexford, Pennsylvania (about 30 minutes outside of Pittsburgh), said he is excited to face several friends this weekend that he grew up playing hockey with. 

“I want to have a one-up on them,” Black said. “I don’t want to lose to a bunch of my friends and have them get some bragging rights." 

Although Black wants to dominate his high school buddies on the ice, he still plans to spend time with them Uptown drink with them afterward. 

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“Yeah, I love those guys,” Black said. “I’ll definitely hang out with them.” 

Chasing the division crown 

Last year’s regular season Central States Collegiate Hockey League title was Ohio’s first since 2009. 

With only four divisional games left, it will be no short order for the Bobcats to defend that post. 

“For us to win the CSCHL this year, I think we pretty much have to win out,” Hogan said. 

Ohio is three points back of No. 1 Lindenwood in the division standings with four division games left. All five teams in the division are ranked in the nation’s top 15, so winning the title is certainly an honor. 

But Hogan is not looking past his final non-divisional opponent, Pittsburgh. A sweep over the Panthers would give the Bobcats some momentum as they shoot for the division. 

“It’ll get us back on track and that’s what we need to do,” Hogan said. “We have to get through Pitt, get two wins and we’ll get focused on the last two weeks.” 

@JordanHorrobin 

jh950614@ohio.edu

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