As Ohio players streamed out of the locker room after Saturday’s 3-0 loss to No. 1 Lindenwood, one phrase seemed to be more popular than the rest: Happy Thanksgiving.
After Saturday, the Bobcats won’t return to the rink until Nov. 26.
It’s a chance for them to get some rest and recovery after a tough weekend against the No. 1 team in the country, but they know they have to get back to work when they return to Bird Arena.
“It’s always good to get away from the rink a little bit,” Shawn Baird said. “When we come back next Monday, we got to come in guns blazing and get ready to work.”
A week off should do Ohio good. It’s in the middle of the toughest stretch of its season. Since Oct. 19, the Bobcats have played every game against teams in the Top 20 of the American Collegiate Hockey Association rankings. It started against No. 5 Iowa State, then Davenport, which was fourth when it came to Athens, and Ohio’s last road trip of Fall Semester was to No. 8 Liberty.
Lindenwood began the second half of the brutal stretch last weekend. After the Thanksgiving break, Ohio ends the first half of the season against the two Central States Collegiate Hockey League opponents it hasn’t played yet, No. 18 Robert Morris and No. 6 Illinois.
The tough schedule doesn’t ease up until the second series of Spring Semester. Ohio travels to Lindenwood the first weekend after winter break.
The ACHA season for any team ebbs and flows. Ohio started off on a high note, and it feels like its in a low part now, so the time off for Thanksgiving is coming at a great time.
“It’s a low spot now,” coach Sean Hogan said. “We’ll climb out of it.”
A week to recharge gives the Bobcats the best chance to return to the level of play they’ve been at for most of the season. It’ll give some players that are dinged up some time to heal.
Other than Austin Heakins, who has been out since the second series of the year against West Virginia with an ongoing leg injury, no players have any serious injuries.
The series against Lindenwood, however, was physical and left some players with some bumps and bruises. With the game disqualifications that happened Saturday, Ohio was left to finish the game shorthanded.
“Everybody’s hurt,” Hogan said. “When you play nine forwards and five (defensemen), it’s tough.”
Above all the hockey things, it is nice for the Bobcats to be able to get away and rest with family.
“We’re going to go home, see our families, regather,” Baird said. “We’re going to come back and get right after it.”