Ohio’s first game in the American Collegiate Hockey Association ended a lot smoother than it did last season.
The Bobcats pulled away in the final 40 minutes, as Tyler Harkins recorded a hat trick in their 5-1 win over UNLV on Friday morning in Frisco, Texas’ Comerica Center.
Harkins was a part of all five Ohio goals, with his three scored, and he assisted on Grant Hazel’s first period goal and Bryan Lubin’s in the final period.
“He did the right things,” coach Sean Hogan said. “He had a nose for the net.”
It was a lot different from last season’s ACHA Tournament game against the Rebels, when Gabe Lampron scored an overtime game-winner. The easier win in Friday’s game should propel the team always brimming with confidence into its quarterfinal matchup.
Ohio’s defense was stout and when it forced turnovers, it was able to score. Harkins’ first two goals came on odd-man rushes, with his third being an empty-net goal. His assist to Lubin was also on a breakaway chance.
Jimmy Thomas was able to stop 27 shots, and the one goal allowed needed a review on whether the net was pushed off before the puck went in. After a lengthy review, the goal was called, after an initial wave-off from the referee.
“The defense played really well in the zone today,” Hogan said. “They had their sticks in lanes.”
Ohio moves on the quarterfinals of the ACHA Tournament, where it will play the winner of No. 5 Iowa State and No. 12 Stony Brook.
The Bobcats and Cyclones have played five times this season, with Ohio winning four times, including in the semifinals of the Central States Collegiate Hockey League Tournament. Ohio last played Stony Brook in the 2017-18 season, where the two teams split the series, with both games ending in overtime.