Matt Rudin checked an Iowa State skater into the boards. He knew was going to the penalty box.
The senior winger was originally sent to the penalty box for a two-minute minor, but after the referees’ brief huddle, it was decided to be more severe than just 120 seconds.
For five minutes, No. 5 Ohio was perfect. Its perfection on the kill led the Bobcats past No. 4 Iowa State in a 2-1 victory Friday night.
“I’m proud of our guys, we’ve been battling adversity lately,” coach Sean Hogan said. “Our attitude has been really good on the bench and that’s a big reason why we’ve been having success.”
Ohio’s bench could’ve folded when it saw one of its key players skate off the ice. Instead, it played its best hockey the night.
Blocked shots and long shifts filled the five minutes as Ohio rotated its lines only a few times. Fans in Bird Arena watched a spectacle that they’ve seen since September. The only difference this time was attitude.
“We got the penalty and at times this year we would’ve bickered with the ref or have a woe is me attitude,” Hogan said. “But instead, we get the penalty and our bench is like ‘we’re going to kill it’. A lot of it was mindset.”
As its penalty kill unit skated with a man down for the next five minutes, the mindset that Hogan alluded to powered them through the first 90 seconds of it.
All sorts of names for Ohio iced the puck, such as Grant Hazel and Gabe Lampron. It was unified and crisp.
The Bobcats didn’t come out of the gate that way. Both teams looked tired and sluggish. Only when the Bobcats lost Rudin did both teams snap out of their trances and started to play like the No. 4 and No. 5 teams in the country.
“It was a turning point,” Hazel said. “We really rallied together and had a team effort there.”
Hazel mentioned that the penalty kill unit was most effective in limiting the Cyclones’ chances in setting up their power play system.
Because of that, it was difficult for them to establish rhythm as the Bobcats pressed hard near the blue line, which caused a disruption that proved to be vital.
“You know that if you get over that (the penalty), it’s very rewarding,” he said. “If you can stick to it and really outwork the other team, it usually pays off for you.”
Ohio got over the penalty. It outworked its opponent. It was rewarded with its sixth Central States Collegiate Hockey League victory, its 17th overall victory and computer points over a higher-ranked team.
“It’s going to be a great start for tomorrow,” Hazel said. “I think we’re going to come out flying, this isn’t a fun team to play against. We don’t like them, and they don’t like us. It was a good team win.”
Ohio’s chance to notch the weekend sweep will start Saturday night at 7:30.