The Bobcats are in the final stages of preparation for their season opener this weekend against John Carroll. This will be the eighth consecutive year the Blue Streaks and Bobcats inaugurate their seasons against one another. Ohio currently leads the series 13-0-1.
Here’s a few things to look for during the Bobcats’ opening series:
Ohio has shifted its priorities in practice compared to last week. Coach Cole Bell has been fine tuning his strategy for the season, and Friday will be a test to see how his theories work in practice. Defense has been his main focus for most of the week.
“One of the big things we saw on video was tight defensive zone coverage,” Bell said. “Typically we’ve tried to get our defense active and be involved to help create offense. One of the things we’ve talked about is keeping them behind the blue line. They’ll have a lot of open ice to work with.”
Bell mentioned in an interview with Power 105.5 on Wednesday that he wants the defense to be aggressive and make opponents move the puck before they are ready.
Last Minute Adjustment
It’s still early in the season, and the Bobcats are returning to optimal form. Bell has said his team has gotten back into rhythm quickly after returning to Athens, but there are still a few kinks to work out. Most of the issues came from figuring out the new team and drills, but those were resolved quickly.
Bell believes any lingering flaws in the Bobcats game aren’t serious and won’t detract from Ohio playing its best this weekend.
“I believe everybody has improved,” Bell said. “It’s getting better and better every day. We spent a lot of time working on the power play, and as we run through practice we’ve seen everyone sharpen up.”
All 11 freshmen are planned to be on the roster this weekend, and Bell said all of Ohio’s newcomers have played like experienced players and should be ready to produce this weekend.
“I’m excited to see the freshmen in the lineup,” Bell said. “There’s going to be a handful of freshmen that are going to be asked to make an impact right away, so I’m excited to see them play a college game for the first time. That’s the fun part of being a coach.”
Puck drop on Friday is expected to be 7:30 p.m. at Bird Arena. Those who can’t attend will be able to stream the game via Bobcat Productions presents Ohio Hockey.