Tyler Harkins charged to the left of the goal, deked the puck between his legs and sent it flying over the left shoulder of Iowa State’s goalie Nikita Kozak.
It was his second goal in 30 seconds. Three minutes of game time hadn’t even gone by, and Ohio added on two more goals by the end of the first.
It all happened like it had planned since Harkins knew Ohio had to get off to a dominant start.
And it did just that in its third Central States Collegiate Hockey League win in a 4-2 final over the visiting Cyclones.
The upperclassmen at Ohio (7-0) have been itching for this game for months. Last season, Ohio was knocked out of the national quarterfinals by Iowa State in a bitter 3-2 loss. Many seniors like Harkins still have a bad taste in their mouths from the disappointing final.
“It’s a game we’ve had circled on our calendar,” Harkins said. “Jake Houston and I have been talking about it all week. We had to make them pay.”
By the end of the first period, the Bobcats made it clear: they wanted revenge for March. Ohio was up 4-0 and had more goals than Iowa State (4-4) had shots on goal.
“We talked about locking up their sticks and making sure they don’t get second chances,” coach Cole Bell said. “We saw a lot of that tonight and a strong commitment to defense.”
The two other goals of the night were scored by Ryan Higgins and Zach Frank. Despite a strong start, Ohio’s offense plateaued and remained scoreless for the rest of the game.
The second period issues flared up for Ohio once again. The Bobcats got too comfortable after their solid first period, and the Cyclones capitalized on sloppy play to score their two goals of the night. Three of Ohio’s penalties came in the second, and Iowa State scored on the power play because of Scott Bagby’s boarding call with 7:47 left in the middle period.
The middle period hasn’t been kind to Ohio this season. Nine of the 13 goals scored against it have been in the second.
“There’s a lot of lessons to learn from (the second period),” Bell said. “It’s tough when you have success like that early. We fought back into it, and we wanted to make sure we were locked down.”
The Bobcats managed to stall the Cyclones for the rest of regulation and secured their seventh consecutive win.
“When you go up 4-0, complacency might set in,” Harkins said. “We’ve been mentioning all year how we have to tidy that up. We can’t let four goals take us off our game.”