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Team Celebrating after Rudin's goal (BLAKE NISSEN | FOR THE POST)

Hockey: Bobcats look to hit their stride as season nears homestretch

There is a point toward the end of every team's season in which the team starts playing better than it has all season, to turn on the jets for an end or the season run. In Ohio's case, hitting its stride could turn into a national championship.

Ohio will begin the quest to hit that stride heading into this weekend’s series against Rutgers (Friday night at 7:30 and Saturday night at 5:30) as they enter the home-stretch of the regular season.

To say a team, which is ranked second in the ACHA National rankings, has not peaked yet may be questioned by some, but not by the Bobcats. They only think they can get better.

Part of the notion of hitting stride and improving on an already impressive 19-4-1 record is focusing on the things that often go unnoticed.

“We’re not nit-picking,” coach Sean Hogan said. “We just have to make sure that we’re playing our best as the season progresses and these little things are going to make a difference in the long run.”

The long run isn’t actually all that long.

With just eight games until the Central States Collegiate Hockey League playoffs, the balance between trying to hit stride and not peaking too early is an uphill battle.

“That’s the trick, right?” Hogan asked.

That trick is referred to as "playoff mode" by Hogan and will be tried in the next four matchups the Bobcats see.

After Rutgers, the team will have a weekend off while Hogan and four players travel to Kazakhstan to play in the Winter World University Games.

After they return to Ohio, playoff preparation will consist of three weekends in February.

Pittsburgh will come to Athens for a series beginning in February, and finally, the Bobcats will be tested by two divisional opponents, Illinois and Iowa State before the CSCHL playoffs.

Hogan expects the team to peak at the right time, giving them a good chance to win those divisional games and make a deep run not only in the league playoffs but also the national tournament.

Forward, Matt Rudin, knows it isn’t easy to peak at the right time, but there might be a formula for how to do it.

“We’re just trying to do the little things,” Rudin said. “Building up to the league championship and then into nationals.


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