All it took was 13 seconds for Ohio to have control in what turned into a blowout win.
That’s the time it took for Drew Magyar to score off a pass from Tyler Harkins in the opening moments of Friday’s game. From that moment, the game belonged to the Bobcats, which ended in a 10-2 victory over Slippery Rock.
The Bobcats may have been the better team on paper, but the reason for their win was because they’re finally finding efficiency as a unit. The shooting gallery wasn’t limited to two or three players.
Nine different skaters scored for Ohio.
Of those nine, five were from underclassmen. Freshman defenseman Blake Rossi scored his first goal to start Ohio’s four goals in the third.
Sophomore forward Ryan Higgins had a three-point night for Ohio, beginning in the second period. Two consecutive goals early in the middle period padded the Bobcats’ lead to 7-1, and Higgins assisted Andrew Sacca’s goal early in the third. He was close to his first hat trick of the season, but Higgins wasn’t focused on himself.
“You just don’t think about it,” Higgins said “After back-to-back goals obviously you want to keep going, but you want your teammates to score just as much as you do.”
Coach Cole Bell has been adamant about shutting down emotions that may result in fights and subsequent penalties, and Friday, that plan worked. Multiple times Slippery Rock players tried to pick fights with the Bobcats, but the brawls were drastically dialed back from last week.
Efforts from Lions players in the second period targeted Zach Frank and tried to lure him into a fight. Frank didn’t take the bait, however, and referees helped stop the conflict from escalating.
Ohio was only issued 10 penalty minutes on Friday, compared to the 45 minutes given out last Friday at Liberty.
The Lions’ second goal of the night came after a slip by Ohio. When Sacca left the penalty box for slashing, Frank was penalized two minutes for tripping. Slippery Rock put the back-to-back power plays to use and scored while Ohio was on the man disadvantage.
“We took our foot off the gas for three or four minutes,” Bell said. “Whether if it’s Slippery Rock, Liberty, Dearborn or Lindenwood, we have to put 60 minutes together, and they understand that.”
Slippery Rock’s goal was a last-ditch effort to claw out of a deep hole that went nowhere. Jake Houston scored quickly on the power-play, and Ohio held the 10-2 lead until the end of regulation.
“There will be ebbs and flows,” Bell said. “We’ll never have full control all the time, but this game is a really good step toward having a full game.”