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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: Ohio gets swept in its weekend in the desert

After Thursday's loss to Arizona, Ohio dropped both games against NCAA D-I Arizona State.

Aside from the half-foot of snow and temperatures in the 30s and 40s, Ohio probably couldn’t wait to get home from a long weekend in Arizona. 

The Bobcats, following a surprising loss to Arizona on Thursday, dropped both weekend games to Arizona State at Oceanside Arena in Phoenix. Ohio (23-7-1) lost 6-1 Saturday after an 8-2 loss Friday. 

“It was a small arena, but the stage was big in terms of the whole athletic department and the way they covered it, the media,” Ohio coach Sean Hogan said. “I think what happened to us both games is the beginning of the game we were nervous.”

The nerves are explained by the weight of the situation. Arizona State is a NCAA Division I team, the first one Ohio has played since facing Penn State in 2012. 

“What I told them is that I believe they needed to take a moment and recognize the opportunity that they have,” Hogan said. “There’s very few opportunities like this.” 

Alkema will be “fine going forward” 

After debate last season over who was the true starting goalie in Ohio’s three-man rotation, junior Aaron Alkema has allowed for no such discussion this year. 

That’s why it wasn’t a surprise to see Alkema start in all three of the Ohio’s games in Arizona this past weekend. However, the surprise of the weekend lie in the amount of goals he and the Ohio defense allowed. 

Alkema gave up 17 goals in three games, which is uncharacteristic for him considering his four shutouts and 2.08 goals against average in 20 starts. 

Hogan defended his starting goalie; however, noting that Alkema had several good saves and won’t be shaken by this three-game skid. Still, it’s likely that Alkema’s backups, juniors Ryan Heltion and Jacob Bloomfield, will get starts this coming weekend against underwhelming Pittsburgh. 

Adjusting to the NCAA game 

Ohio’s captain Michael Harris said Arizona State’s edge wasn’t a matter of skill. The Bobcats have plenty of skilled players.

The Sun Devils were simply faster. 

“They moved the puck real quick,” Harris said. “Much quicker than we’re used to.” 

Arizona State’s deep roster jumped to a lightning fast start, particularly Saturday, when it scored four times in the first period. On Friday, the Sun Devils scored three times in the opening 20 minutes. 

“The biggest difference between the (American Collegiate Hockey Association and NCAA) is if you make a mistake … They capitalize on those chances,” Hogan said. “And they do it quickly, where in our league if you make a mistake you maybe get away with it.” 

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Recovering from a long weekend 

It’s not that Ohio wasted Arizona’s mid-70s weather over the weekend, but they just didn’t have much time to soak it in. 

Ohio played three nights straight before traveling back across two time zones. The team will not resume practice until Tuesday. 

“We’ve got a bunch of guys who are going to be hurting,” Harris said. “We need to rest the bodies to get back to 100 percent for next weekend against Pitt.” 

@JordanHorrobin 

jh950614@ohio.edu

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