For the first time since March, the Bobcats will take the ice to play a full 60-minute game.
In their annual intra-squad scrimmage dubbed the Green vs. White game, the Bobcats host a glorified practice for players to really give it their all and for fans to get a little taste of what’s to come.
While the team finished at No. 5 in the country and didn’t lose a lot of players in terms of numbers, Ohio, in its mind, has a long way to go before it can feel like the national powerhouse program that it is.
Below are five things to watch as Ohio gets out of the offseason and into the 2018-19 year.
1. How often the lines adjust
Coach Sean Hogan always tinkers and adjusts the lines in order to best suit the needs of the team. By the end of the season a year ago, Ohio’s first two lines proved to be stellar until the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s national tournament. The Bobcats’ top line from a year ago comprised of center Gianni Evangelisti, and wingers Mike Palasics and Timmy Thurnau. Evangelisti is dealing with an ongoing upper body injury, and Palasics graduated at the end of the season.
It's expected that with Evangelisti’s absence, senior Bryan Lubin will take the top spot. The winger adjacent to Thurnau is wide open.
2. New players
As it does every offseason, Ohio recruited some talented skaters and added another during its open tryout process. Its recruits are all freshman: Forwards Ryan Higgins, Drew Magyar and Alex Singley with lone defenseman Scott Bagby. Travis Studzinski, a sophomore defenseman, impressed Hogan and the rest of the staff enough to make the team as a walk-on.
Junior forward Austin Heakins is back on the roster. He took a year off because of a busy academic schedule.
3. Koster and Chilberg growth
Backup goalies Mason Koster and Jackson Chilberg usually take a seat behind junior Jimmy Thomas. During the Green and White game, however, the two reserves will have the opportunity to earn valuable experience in a game-like atmosphere. Koster -- who saw some minutes in blowout scenarios -- posted an .848 save percentage in four games. Chilberg saved a perfect 5 of 5 in one game played.
4. Defensive pairings
Ohio lost three players to graduation, and the loss of leadership will be noticeable.
Perhaps its biggest loss is former captain and defenseman Jake Faiella.
Faiella, who spent most of the last season playing with a separated shoulder among other injuries, provided the leadership necessary for Ohio to keep its season intact.
A potential pairing of senior Nick Grose and junior Jake Houston could be helpful for the Bobcats.
The two smaller, yet agile defensemen possess a strong two-way game. Evident by a combined 41 points from a year ago, this potential pair could suit Ohio well while its third and fourth line are on the ice.
5. Baby Hogan
Hogan’s may or may not happen be at Bird Arena on Friday because he and his wife, Meagan, are expecting the birth of their first child.
Should the Hogan family welcome their child into the world, assistant coach Mike Gugin will be the acting coach until Hogan returns.