Ohio was put in a bad situation. Jimmy Thomas was hurt, and the stand-out goalie had to leave the game.
Jackson Chilberg was thrusted in the game and allowed seven goals. Ohio skaters spent a lot of time in the penalty box against a Lindenwood team that’s operating at 36.64 percent on the power play this season.
It wasn’t a great situation for the sophomore goalie Chilberg. Thomas is a mainstay in the Bobcats’ net, spending 1,714 minutes there this season. He played 2,051 minutes last year in the regular season. That means Chilberg and his fellow backup, Mason Koster, don’t see a lot of ice time. And coming into a game against the best team in the country was tough.
Despite losing 9-4 in the Central States Collegiate Hockey League Championship Game to the Lions, the Bobcats feel that they’re in a good spot heading into the American Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament.
“I’m glad we had the weekend we did,” coach Sean Hogan said.
Ohio started its weekend with a 2-1 win over Iowa State, moving the Bobcats into the championship round of the league tournament. And despite the wide margin of goals at the end of the game, Ohio played close — as it did earlier this season — against the No. 1 team in the country.
Sunday’s loss put a bad taste in the Bobcats’ mouths. But when they get to Frisco, Texas, for the ACHA Tournament, that loss will be forgotten. They’ll have to focus on their first opponent, the winner of UNLV and Robert Morris-Pennsylvania.
But that loss to Lindenwood, the bad taste of being only down a goal at the first intermission to losing by five goals in the league title game, will still going to be there.
“Yeah, definitely,” said Gabe Lampron of that bad taste.
Despite the tough loss, Ohio is ready for its biggest stage. Hogan, who is battling the flu, watched Tuesday’s practice from the office area of Bird Arena. He was sure to note that he thought Ohio looked strong in practice, stronger than he might have seen without his bird eye’s view.
And for Hogan, that means good things moving forward. He knows his team is truly one of the best teams in the country.
“I’m always confident in our guys, for sure,” Hogan said. “I still think its us and Lindenwood. We’re really hard to beat when we play well. We just have to play our game.”
Despite the leg injury Sunday, Thomas expects to play. Hogan expects him to play. Lampron knows how tough his teammate is, giving him a boost heading into the national tournament to help support his goalie.
The Bobcats will be taking it one game at a time, waiting to see who they play and taking them on. But they know they have Iowa State possibly looming behind that, and another possible rematch with Lindenwood later on in the tournament. That means a chance to eliminate that bad taste in their mouth.
“(Lindenwood is) a great team,” Lampron said. “But we definitely want them again. If we’re healthy and they’re healthy, I think that’s a completely different game.”