As the hockey season wears on, it’s easy to see how a team breaks down line to line and defensive pairing to defensive pairing. This is the first in a series of breakdowns of the different units Ohio puts on the Bird Arena ice.
This is a breakdown of the three defensive pairings: Grant Hazel and Tom Pokorney; Nick Grose and Jake Houston; and a trio of Shawn Baird, Scott Bagby and Travis Studzinski.
Grant Hazel and Tom Pokorney
The two seniors are the anchors of the defensive portion of Ohio’s effort. This defensive pairing features heavily on the power play and penalty kill units.
At any point during a game, Hazel and Pokorney are the two biggest skaters on the ice, bringing a physicality to the ice that is sometimes needed in a tough game.
It isn’t just the defensive side, however. Pokorney is one of the best skaters on the team, his providing him with reach on both the defensive and offensive end. Hazel probably has the best slap shot on Ohio, leading to a lot of Ohio’s chances when on the power play.
Nick Grose and Jake Houston
The second oldest defensive pairing has includes the junior Houston and senior Grose. Off the ice, the two are roommates, providing a that produces good things for the Bobcats. The two are able to find each other with the puck anywhere on the ice, both in the defensive zone and the offensive zone.
This defensive pairing features more of an offensive tilt, with the two’s skills going hand-in-hand getting up and down the ice. Both seem to be able to shoot and score from anywhere on the ice. Houston is second on the team in points with 24. Grose has 17 points.
Shawn Baird, Scott Bagby and Travis Studzinski
This is a line that is consistent in its play and always solid. The three defenseman are all smart on the ice, making sure to pick each other up and not let the other look out of position.
Baird, a physical skater, uses his body a lot to make hits, especially up against the boards. When he does this, Bagby or Studzinski fills in the gap, allowing Baird to play his game.
And graduate assistant coach Mike Gugin was blunt in his assessment of Bagby’s talent: “Bagby is going to be a stud,” he said.
The defense has been a strong overall unit this year. When Ohio is aggressive, it is successful. That’s something that needs improved, however. Coach Sean Hogan often talks about how his team loses aggressiveness at points during games, and that is when the Bobcats get in trouble.
If they can keep aggressiveness pairing to pairing, shift to shift, Ohio’s defense should continue to help goalie Jimmy Thomas add to his three shutouts on the season.