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Ohio's Grant Hazel tries to control the puck against Liberty defenders at Bird Arena on Jan. 15. (FILE)

Hockey: Ohio's leadership key in opening weekend against John Carroll

Ohio is a veteran team. They're also a very young team. 

When a team has 10 new players, but five of its top six point scorers from last season's team on it’s roster, leadership is a key to success.

Ohio will rely on that leadership from those veterans in its home opener as coach Sean Hogan begins his third season as coach of the program. Even with 10 new players taking on collegiate hockey for the first time, Hogan said he believes the team has done well acclimating this offseason.

“I think we’ve done a really good job this year with our senior class of bringing in the new guys and showing them what it means to be a part of Bobcat hockey,” Hogan said. “The effort that it takes to play college hockey. It’s definitely next level effort and I think we’ve done a good job of that so far.”

Senior captain Matthew Hartman, one of the 10 seniors on the Ohio club, said although the youth of the new players will show at first, the team will settle in.

“You have the jitters a little bit but I think they’re going to be fine,” Hartman said. “It might take a couple shifts just to get used to the pace and get used to the other team but I think they’re going to do great.”

The seventh-ranked Bobcats will open the season with Friday and Saturday games in Bird Arena against John Carroll, a familiar foe that Hogan said will take advantage of Ohio if they're not careful.

“They’re always opportunistic,” Hogan said. “I think on paper, we’re the better hockey team but they’re an opportunistic team where if we make too many mistakes, they’ll capitalize and when we let teams hang around in close games, then anything can happen.”

Though Hogan sees his team as the better one on paper, his expectation for the team this weekend has not changed.

“For us, the expectation is that our habits are good and that our effort is good and as the season goes on the execution will get better and better,” Hogan said. “We need to make sure we out-work, out-will and outcompete John Carroll in all three zones of the ice.”

The “outcompete” attitude is part of the culture Hartman is hoping the freshman will buy in to.

“I think we run a really selfless system," he said. "It’s just having them buy into all that: working hard, laying out for shots and stuff like that. Moving the puck around.”


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