No. 5 Ohio (13-3-3) hits the road to play its first league series of the calendar year this weekend as it plays No. 19 Robert Morris-Illinois in a Central States Collegiate Hockey League matchup

Game information

Opponent: Robert Morris-Illinois

Puck drop: 7:15 p.m.

Venue: The Edge Ice Arena (Bensenville, Illinois)

How to watch: No stream available

Meet the opponent

Top point scorers

3 Ryan Martin (9 goals, 14 assists)

22 Scott Coash (13 goals, 8 assists)

43 Jake Nitsche (11 goals, 10 assists)

Goalie Play

1 Cole Semchak (6-7, 3.6 goals against average, .903 save percentage)

29 Christopher Mallon (3-6, 3.51 GAA, .902 save percentage)

30 Darryll Smith (2-0, 3.11 GAA, .902 save percentage)

Penalty minutes

43 Jake Nitsche (61)

11 Dylan Holt (57)

16 Nick Rizzo (51)

Last matchup

Ohio hosted Robert Morris-Illinois on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. The Bobcats swept the Eagles during that series. 

The Bobcats’ special teams shined, with a 7-1 combined score between the two games. Austin Heakins made his second return to the ice after being out for over two months with a leg injury that happened in the first weekend of the season.

Ohio used Robert Morris-Illinois to bounce back strong after being swept at home by Lindenwood. It was a much needed sweep as the Bobcats moved toward the end of the first semester.

Three stars to watch

Shaking off the rust: Ohio has played one game since Dec. 8, with the entire series at Lindenwood and the Saturday game against Pitt canceled. The Bobcats getting more ice time will help get back into a rhythm that will help as the season draws to a close. It will also help Ohio climb back up in the American Collegiate Hockey Association computer rankings. Despite the 12-0 thrashing of Pitt last weekend, the Bobcats slipped a spot in the rankings to fifth. The drop might be because the rankings come from averages, so the three of four games being cancelled has hurt Ohio in that sense.  

Special teams: The last time Ohio and Robert Morris-Illinois played, special teams played a huge role in the outcome. The Bobcats’ power play has been improving all season, currently playing to a 32.56 percent rate. The Eagles penalty kill is only succeeding 75.83 percent of the time. And on the other hand, Ohio’s penalty kill is playing well, scoring two shorthanded goals against Pitt. That unit is killing penalties at a 89.29 percent rate, and Robert Morris’ power play is only scoring on 11 percent of its chances.

Taking care of business: Yes, this is a league series that might be challenging for Ohio, but Robert Morris-Illinois is tied for last place with Iowa State. Other than Lindenwood, who sits 17 points clear of second place Ohio, the CSCHL is tight. The Eagles and the Cyclones are only two points behind the Bobcats. But, Ohio has proven itself as the clear better team than Robert Morris-Illinois. If it plays up to its potential, it should widen the gap in the league.