Ohio faces its first Central States Collegiate Hockey League opponent this weekend when Robert Morris-Illinois comes to Bird Arena.
Coach Cole Bell isn’t worried about the first series against a CSCHL opponent. To him, the Eagles (2-2-0) are just another team. Aside from correcting the mistakes against Toledo, the Bobcats’ (4-0-0) strategy has remained the same.
“They have some talent and speed, especially up front,” Bell said. “We feel as if we win the battles away from the puck, we’ll have some success this weekend.”
Opponent: Robert Morris-Illinois
Puck drop: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Bird Arena
How to watch: Bobcat Production presents Ohio Hockey
Meet the opponent
Top point scorers
No. 13, Sam Mancini (six goals, four assists)
No. 19, Joe Molfetta (one goal, five assists)
No. 22, Scott Coash (two goals, three assists)
No. 29, Chris Mallon (1-2, .875 save percentage)
No. 30, Darryll Smith (1-0, .889 save percentage)
Ohio and Robert Morris-Illinois faced each other twice last season. Ohio hosted the first series and outpaced the Eagles with a 7-1 combined score for both games.
The Eagles returned the favor by sweeping the Bobcats Jan. 25-26 at The Edge Ice Arena. Both games ended in overtime, with the first game ending in a nine-round shootout.
Then-junior Jake Houston led the team that weekend with four points, and then-junior goalie Jimmy Thomas posted a .892 save percentage on 65 save attempts.
What to watch:
The second line. Bell tweaked the lineup in the series against Toledo and put senior defenseman Tom Pokorney at forward as an experiment. Pokorney fit the role perfectly and scored three goals and tallied an assist over the weekend. For the time being, Bell is keeping Pokorney front and center.
Pokorney, Kyle Craddick and Alex Singley form the main core of the second line and have kept opponents away from the goal. A 5-on-3 power play was the only time Toledo scored against the line last weekend.
Speed. Ohio and Robert Morris are both quick teams, but Ohio’s offense stalls out if they keep the pedal down for too long. Bell said that they are still working on maintaining their pace through three periods and hopes to avoid the brick wall they routinely hit in the second period.
“Saturday, I thought we did a good job,” Bell said. “Once we got through penalties we were able to carry the momentum forward.”
Setting the tone. This is the first CSCHL series of the season and Bell’s first at Ohio. If Ohio can’t beat Robert Morris, it shows that they will crack under tougher division opponents like Iowa State or Lindenwood.
The Bobcats’ all-time record against the Eagles at home is 9-6, so the team may be able to use the home-ice advantage to pull ahead of the Eagles this weekend.
The question remains if Ohio will be able to produce defensively. Six of the top ten scorers in the CSCHL are from Robert Morris, and those six have produced 15 of the Eagles’ 22 goals so far this season.