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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: Weekend sweep by Michigan-Dearborn is a 'learning experience' for Ohio

Ohio had its worst weekend in nearly two seasons.

In their final October series of the season, the Bobcats fell twice in shootouts to Michigan-Dearborn. Ohio hasn’t been swept by an opponent since January 2018, when it dropped a series to Lindenwood.

Even more disappointing, it hasn’t been swept at home since October 2017, when it was swept by Jamestown. 

Dearborn was ranked No. 2 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association and Ohio was ranked No. 13 ahead of the series. Freshman defenseman Blake Rossi said that the Bobcats knew their chances of winning were slim, but the fact they lost in overtime shows promise for the team.

“We just couldn’t finish,” Rossi said. “We ran into a great goaltender and put up a lot of shots on him. They’ve been a great team for years so we just wanted to do our best.”

Dearborn goalie Thomas Proudlock is ranked eighth in the ACHA with a .950 save percentage and 1.58 goals against average. In his two games against Ohio, he allowed 5 goals on 74 shots on goal.

Forward Tyler Harkins took the sweep in stride. The losses have to be viewed in a positive light, or else the team will never get past what might have happened instead of what needs to happen according to the senior. Harkins sees going toe-to-toe with the No. 2 team in the ACHA and losing after shootouts as a lesson in humility.

“Anytime you lose a game you think about what could’ve been done different,” Harkins said. “It’s good to get losses in early, that way you get a piece of humble pie and can get back to the drawing board.”

Coach Cole Bell made practice on Monday optional. He knew his team needed a break after the  weekend. After an extended break, many of the Bobcats went into Tuesday’s practice in a good mood and ready to get back to work. Bell had mentioned after Saturday’s game that the team had to “learn how to win.” 

The key problem that both the players and Bell saw with the weekend was the failure to close out on their early success. In both games, the Bobcats took the lead in the early portions of the game before slowing down offensively.

“We said that have to learn how to close out games,” Harkins said. “These are the games that we got to learn to close out but with us being a younger team we’ll find those down the road.”

Rossi also saw the seven penalties Ohio was issued Saturday as a minor issue that needed to be tweaked.

“We’ve got to stay out of the box,” Rossi said. “We tend to fall into dumb penalties and it hurts us. If we can get them to get dumb penalties we can score more often on the power play.”

If Ohio can learn from being swept and redirect its focus toward the rest of its November schedule, this learning experience can work in its favor. Two of its next three opponents, Liberty and Lindenwood, are ranked No. 8 and No. 2 in the ACHA, respectively.

The Bobcats’ main goal for this week has shifted —it’s no longer “win,” but “learn how to win.”


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