Jake Houston has been having a point surge lately.
The thing is, it’s expected. Both Houston and his defensive partner, Nick Grose, are the kind of defensemen that skate past the blue line looking for offensive opportunities.
Houston’s found his name on the stat sheet over and over again this season. In the second half of Ohio’s season, he’s scored 12 points over the Bobcats’ three weekends, including , when Houston notched four points. He also recorded four-point weekends when Ohio was and in Ohio’s .
In total this season, he’s racked up 32 points, well past his total of 11 from last season.
His play has earned him longer shifts on the ice. For Houston, however, it’s just a part of the game.
“Everyone has a role,” he said, “If I’m getting those minutes, if I’m not putting those points up, I’m not doing my job.”
Houston’s time on the ice is often spent working the puck up past the blue zone. He features heavily on the Bobcats’ special team units due to both his offensive and defensive prowess — and the ability to play both sides.
“He can play everything,” coach Sean Hogan said. “He can play a defensive game; he can play an offensive game. If we’re playing five-on-five, or four-on-four, or if we’re short a guy... he plays in all situations.”
That kind of game is a perfect example of how Ohio held No. 19 Syracuse to only 18 shots during . Houston can defend and keep the puck away from goalie Jimmy Thomas, and he can keep the puck in the offensive zone, cycling through while looking for a shot.
And often, Houston isn’t the one taking that shot. He’s only netted one goal out of the 12 points he’s racked up in the Spring Semester. He’s the one looking for the open guy who can take the shot. Often times, that’s Gianni Evangelisti, who Houston and Grose assisted on the power play twice, leading to Evangelisti’s hat trick.
Both goals came in a similar fashion. The puck cycled high between the two defenseman and Evangelisti, ending in a slap shot from the only Bobcat to have more points than Houston.
“Unless there’s a pretty good shot from up top, 90 percent of your points are going to be coming from putting the puck on someone’s stick in front of the net,” Houston said. “Our guys have been working on getting to the net a little harder. I think it’s been paying off for us.”
The ice time that Houston has turned into points has also earned him a spot on the top power play unit. That’s where the skill guys play. He and Grose are the one’s that help the forwards get the puck to the net.
Hogan recognizes the skill Houston has and heaps high praise upon him.
“If he’s not the top defenseman in the league, he’s one of the top,” Hogan said.