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Ohio sophomore defenseman Tom Pokorney is one of the Bobcats who, upon appeal, will not be suspended for Friday's game against Illinois. (FILE) 

Hockey: Ohio drops league final to Robert Morris 3-2 in overtime

The Bobcats lost their third-straight league final.

There’s no such thing as a quick 12-hour bus ride. 

Ohio drove back to Athens from Ames, Iowa, through Sunday night into Monday morning after playing in the final of the Central States Collegiate Hockey League tournament. 

The bus ride probably felt even longer than usual because No. 7 Ohio lost 3-2 in overtime to No. 12 Robert Morris (Illinois) at the Ames Ice Arena. 

“The guys are down for sure,” coach Sean Hogan said. “Obviously it’s a championship that we know we could have won and probably should have won.” 

Ohio held a 2-1 lead in the last five minutes of the game when a Robert Morris player scooped up a bouncing puck in the neutral zone and took it in for a “semi-breakaway,” as Hogan called it. 

The referee blew his whistle for a penalty shot, ruling that the player had been hooked and his progress on the breakaway had been impeded. 

“There’s some refs that will make that call, there’s some that won’t,” defenseman Tyler Pecka said. “You can’t really argue the call. What happened, happened.”

The converted penalty shot tied the game, and after the Bobcats hit the post before the end of regulation, the Eagles closed it out in overtime. 

“We had a bunch of chances in overtime,” Hogan said. “We had an open net and ended up hitting our own guy.”  

The Eagles entered this year’s five-team tournament as the bottom seed, but strung together wins in three-straight days. Ohio rested Friday and beat Iowa State 6-2 Saturday. 

For the third-straight year, Ohio suffered a one-goal loss in the league tournament final. The 2014 final was also a 3-2 overtime loss at the hands of Robert Morris. 

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The Bobcats did win the league championship four years ago, but that’s a memory only the current seniors were part of.

The CSCHL is reputably one of the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s strongest divisions. All five members are ranked in the top 15 and will play in the national tournament March 4-6 in Bensonville, Illinois. 

When the regular season ended last weekend, the final rankings and national tournament bids were established. Therefore the CSCHL tournament had no bearing on the teams’ placements. 

Instead, the players played for pride. League teams face each other four times a year and, as a result, have well-established rivalries in place. 

Junior forward Patrick Spellacy, one of the players enduring a third-straight runner-up in the tournament, accepts the sting of the loss because a greater goal lies ahead. 

“The bus ride won’t be a whole lot of fun, I mean 12 hours (driving) after losing in overtime,” Spellacy said. “You just have to focus on nationals coming up and be positive and put your energy that way. And do something special.” 


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