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"Matthew Hartman keeping his eye on the puck in tonight's shoot-out win." (CHRIS PENWELL| FOR THE POST)

Hockey: No. 3 Ohio breaks winter lull with home series against No. 16 Delaware

More than a month has passed since Ohio played an American Collegiate Hockey Association game.

Barring another poisonous gas leak, the No. 3 Bobcats will break that streak by hosting No. 16 Delaware on Friday and Saturday night at Bird Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. both nights.

Lindenwood leak

About five hours into the bus trip to Lindenwood last weekend, Ohio coach Sean Hogan awoke to his phone buzzing.

He checked his phone and saw several messages from the Lindenwood head coach and a league representative. The Lindenwood Ice Arena had a carbon monoxide leak, and the games were canceled.

Due to scheduling conflicts, Ohio and Lindenwood will not make up the missed games. As a result, the Central States Collegiate Hockey League (of which Ohio and Lindenwood are both members) will determine its regular season standings based on win percentage instead of points.

When Matt Hartman woke up, he noticed the bus was stopped. He didn’t believe teammate Patrick Spellacy that the bus was turning around and heading back to Athens.

But that’s what happened. And the more he thought about it, the more the odd situation kind of made sense to Hartman.

“It’s always a tough game,” he said of playing at Lindenwood. “It feels like you can’t really breathe in there.”

This time, he definitely would’ve been right.

Breaking the winter break lull

Hogan was genuinely surprised with how players looked when they returned to practice Jan. 2.

“I was impressed,” he said. “Usually we’re not good (after a long break).”

The reason players are often slow at the start after time off is they may lose some of their conditioning. The Bobcats don’t have strict rules about working out or getting on the ice during their time off.

For some, depending on where they live, getting ice time may not even be an option. That means they go weeks without skating in the middle of the season.

“I hope that they keep themselves in shape (over the break),” Hogan said. “But it’s so hard. Especially near the holidays.”

Any lull from the break should be well behind the team now. Ohio has had two full weeks back to practice leading into the series against the Blue Hens.

Injuries are stacking up

Ohio has been fortunate so far this season when it comes to injuries, but that could quickly change.

Three forwards and a defenseman are all likely to miss action this weekend. Most notable is defenseman Mike LaFrenier, who has an ankle injury.

LaFrenier, one of the best Ohio defensemen at even strength and on the power play, is out this weekend for sure.

The Bobcats also appear to have just one healthy goalie, Aaron Alkema, entering the weekend. Jimmy Thomas has a rib injury, and Ryan Heltion has been sick.

Jacob Bloomfield, a goalie on Ohio’s Division II team and a former member of the D-I team, practiced Wednesday. Hogan said either Thomas or Heltion will dress this weekend behind Alkema.


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