Ohio passed its first big test of the season with a sweep of No. 8 Colorado this past weekend at Bird Arena, winning Friday and Saturday with scores of 8-0 and 5-3 respectively.
Friday’s game was out of reach quickly as the Bobcats scored four times in the first period and suffocated the Buffaloes’ offense. Saturday featured back-and-forth action that was expected from the two big, physical top-ten teams.
The No. 7 Bobcats finished their season-opening home stand with a 6-0 record and are poised to climb the American Collegiate Hockey Association rankings this week.
Bobcats come from behind for the win
The Bobcats knew Friday’s blowout win didn’t accurately show how Colorado could play. After all, the Buffaloes had played defending national champion Lindenwood on Thursday and drove eight hours from St. Louis to Athens for the weekend series.
But the Bobcats were not prepared for the speed and intensity the Buffaloes displayed in the early part of Saturday’s game. Ohio trailed 2-0 in the second before turning things around for the eventual win.
Ohio coach Sean Hogan said he didn’t tell his players anything specific to change momentum.
“It’s a mental toughness thing,” Hogan said. “I think that our senior leaders did a great job of not getting too down about it.”
Senior Joey Breslin responded 57 seconds after Colorado’s second goal with one of his own — a snipe that landed just inside the post and past the goalie’s glove. Freshman walk-on Tom Evans tied the game 14 seconds later with his first collegiate goal.
It happened so fast, Hogan didn’t even see it. Ohio rolled four-straight goals and commanded the game from there.
Evangelisti breaks out
Through four games, freshman forward Gianni Evangelisti did well to blend in with the Bobcats.
He’s a bottom-six forward, excels on the penalty kill and is one of seven newbies in the Ohio freshman class. He had just one assist on Ohio’s first 28 goals this season.
But Friday night, in the team’s first-ranked matchup, Evangelisti stood out in a big, big way.
He got his first collegiate goal to open the game’s scoring two and a half minutes in. Then he got his second goal. Then his third.
“It’s always nice getting on the score sheet,” said Evangelisti, who finished with five points on the weekend. “The last couple weekends, I felt me and my linemates played well, doing the little things right and finally got paid off for it (this weekend).”
Thomas shines again in goal
Freshman goalie Jimmy Thomas sported some art on his previously plain, white helmet, but otherwise he looked the same in net this past weekend as he did in his debut against Kent State.
Thomas started both games this past weekend and saved 35 of the 38 shots he faced. Hogan showed tremendous faith in his young goalie by playing him on back-to-back nights instead of turning to one of the senior goalies, Aaron Alkema and Ryan Heltion.
“They’re all competitive and Jimmy did well this weekend,” Hogan said. “But we have three good goalies.”
Just six games into the season, there is plenty of time for Thomas, Alkema and Heltion to get opportunities in net, and as Hogan has said previously, they will all get chances.
But early on it’s been Thomas who has had the most chances. So far, he’s made the most of them.