Earlier this week, the American Collegiate Hockey Association released its weekly coaches’ poll. Now, No. 4 Ohio has earned its spot for a reason.
In just four games, the Bobcats (4-0) have scored 44 goals and have only allowed six.
In one of its last non-league series, here are four things to watch ahead of No. 4 Ohio’s weekend series Eastern Michigan:
Goals, goals, goals
Ohio on average has scored 11 goals per game. Eastern Michigan (0-5) has averaged 6.4 goals allowed per game. While the difference is just 4.6 goals, Eastern Michigan has only played one team that’s in the ACHA top 25. No. 11 Davenport swept Eastern Michigan by a combined 17-5 score. While it’s a nationally ranked team, Davenport, in comparison to Ohio, is on a different level talent-wise and schedule-wise. Regardless, the Bobcats shouldn’t have trouble scoring for the third weekend in a row.
Saturday night’s all right (for backups)
If the Bobcats play the way they probably should, Jimmy Thomas might be able to enjoy another night of rest on the bench before the gauntlet of their schedule drops. With the junior goalie on the bench, sophomores Mason Koster and Jackson Chilberg may have the opportunity to get valuable game experience. When asked after practice Thursday about the potential goalie shake up, coach Sean Hogan said it’s something he’ll have to see about.
Ohio might switch up lines in an effort to continue finding the right rhythm. Its most productive line — Tyler Harkins, Cody Black and Matt Rudin — may or may not change, but with Gianni Evangelisti healthy and back in the lineup, Hogan has the opportunity to switch things up. The ever-changing second, third and fourth lines won’t be cemented for quite some time, nor will Ohio’s defensive pairs. Of the defensive pairings, Nick Grose and Jake Houston have provided the Bobcats with the best of both offensive and defensive skill sets.
After having a rare home-and-home last week, Ohio will stay in Bird Arena for the entire series. Under Hogan, the Bobcats have amassed an impressive 76-13-6 record at Bird Arena. Backed by its fans and familiarity of the ice, Ohio holds an unrivaled advantage over Eastern Michigan in terms of arena settings.
The Bobcats will once again be without Austin Heakins. The junior forward will be scratched for the second consecutive week as he is dealing with a lower-body injury. There is no update at this time.
Assistant coach Michael Gugin will not be on the bench this weekend. He’s going on a recruiting trip.
This is one of Ohio’s last nonleague series in this first portion of the schedule. A look ahead on the schedule features a matchup next week at Iowa State and then against ACHA ranked teams Davenport and Liberty.
Puck drop for both games is slated for 7:30 p.m.