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Ohio forward Tyler Harkins (No. 22) shoots the puck for a goal during the third period of the Bobcats’ game against Robert-Morris Illinois on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, at Bird Arena in Athens, Ohio. The Bobcats won 4-3 in a shootout. (FILE)

Hockey: Ohio swept by Liberty after Saturday shootout loss

No. 9 Ohio’s recent skid continued on the road against No. 8 Liberty.

The Bobcats have now lost five straight games as well as their third straight shootout loss. Friday’s game at LaHaye Ice Center handed Ohio (7-2-3) its worst loss since a 7-1 drop to Illinois in November 2017. 

Here’s a closer look at Ohio’s weekend in Lynchburg, Virginia:

Midnight Mayhem

Puck drop on Friday wasn’t until 11:59 p.m. due in part to a tradition at Liberty University called Midnight Mayhem. 

Liberty took the early lead after defenseman Chayden Lauber flew the puck past Jimmy Thomas’ glove, and Arturas Laukaitis caught Thomas away from the goal nine seconds later. Only thirty seconds of game time had passed.

Ohio soon found itself in a 4-2 hole after 40 minutes.

The third period saw a breakdown of order for the Bobcats, and the frustrations built up over the game soon boiled over as Liberty slowly extended the lead to 7-2. A full-team brawl broke out with 1:55 left in the game and resulted in the ejections of Tom Pokorney, Tyler Harkins and Drew Magyar. 

Liberty scored again before the clock called mercy, and the Bobcats were buried 8-2.

Ohio’s two goals came thanks to Pokorney and Andrew Wells.

Return of the shootout plague

Although Ohio kept Liberty from another early breakout, Saturday ended on an all-too-familiar note for the Bobcats in the past weeks — a shootout loss.

The Bobcats held a 3-0 early in the third after goals by Kyle Craddick, Wells and Gianni Evangelisti. That lead was blown when Liberty scored four unanswered goals in six minutes. Timmy Thurnau kept Ohio alive with a shot through a traffic jam around Liberty’s goal with 1:49 remaining.

Once again with no score after the first overtime, Ohio was forced into a shootout.  

Evangelisti and Liberty’s Quinn Ryan found the net, but neither team could break the tie until the fourth round when Brock Thompson of Liberty sniped Thomas’ stick side. Thurnau couldn’t respond, and Ohio left Lynchburg being swept for the second weekend in a row.

“We had some guys step up, but that wasn’t enough,” coach Cole Bell said. “That’s something we are going to address this week.”

Quick numbers

13: Ohio had 13 penalties total in both games over the weekend, including three ejections, which highlights a continuing trend of mistakes piling up on the Bobcats and costing them wins.

4: Following Saturday’s loss, the Bobcats now have four overtime losses, which they didn’t reach until January last season.


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