Starting off games with a quick goal and an early lead has been stressed by coach Sean Hogan throughout the season.
Going into Friday's game, seven of Ohio’s 13 wins this season came when the Bobcats scored first.
Ohio continued that trend with a 7-2 win over Illinois on Friday night, improving to 10-1 at home and 8-1 this season when scoring first.
Mike Palasics got the Bobcats scoring just 15 seconds into the first period after the Illinois goaltender lost the puck among the crowded crease, allowing Palasics to take advantage.
Hogan said Palasics and the fourth line worked hard and had a great week of practice all week, so he gave them the start, and it paid dividends with the early goal.
“Catch, skate, they got it to the center, they kicked it back out and got it to the net,” Hogan said of the first goal. “That’s how it works. That’s literally how we draw it up.”
Palasics said his line’s speed and physicality helped start the game with a quick lead. The fourth linemen wanted to set the tone of the game for Ohio, and did just that.
After surrendering an Illinois goal to equalize the game, Ohio (14-2-1) went on a quick three goal spurt to break the game open at 4-1 after one period. The three goals came in a short six minute stretch.
Liam Geither scored the first of the three goals in the period on the power play, just two minutes after Illinois (9-5-3) found the back of the net to tie the game at one.
From that point, Ohio just added to its lead and sucked the life out of the Fighting Illini, who scored a goal to begin the second period.
The first period ended with the Bobcats owning a 16-8 shot advantage. The final shot tally was 50-17 in favor of the Bobcats.
Ohio was successful on three powerplay attempts, improving its total when at an advantage to 24 goals on the season. The Bobcats have also only given up 10 goals on the penalty kill.
Grant Hazel and Jake Faiella both capitalized on power play opportunities during the second and third period respectively, but by then, the game was already out of reach.
“I don’t think we were that great on the power play,” Hogan said. “We had three goals, but we probably had a million chances.”
One contributing factor to the lack of power play execution was each line getting a chance to run at an advantage, something coach Hogan said isn’t a bad thing.
“Some of the (power play chances) that weren’t clicking aren’t guys that are on the power play a lot,” Hogan added.
Ohio will be back in action Saturday night against Illinois. The puck will drop at 7:30 p.m.