Ohio is taking a week off from ranked opponents when it hosts Slippery Rock this weekend at Bird Arena.
The Bobcats (7-2-3) are desperate for a win. They’ve been on a five-game losing streak after they were swept by Michigan-Dearborn and Liberty. Coach Cole Bell has noticed the players have practiced harder than usual to improve off what they have learned.
“It’s not from a lack of effort,” Bell said. “I think we just need to work smarter.”
Bell is confident with how the team is performing as a whole the past few weeks. With the exception of the 8-2 loss against Liberty on Nov. 1, the Bobcats have felt in control for most of the game.
Until the other team inevitably ties and forces overtime.
Ohio doesn’t want to end in another shootout loss. It has had too many games taken into overtime after a lead was given up. Bell believes that the vigor the Bobcats brought to practice will be seen on the ice.
Opponent: Slippery Rock
Puck drop: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Bird Arena
How to watch: Bobcat Productions presents Ohio Hockey
Meet the Opponent
Top point scorers
No. 18 Jamie Mauro (9 goals, 12 assists)
No. 19 Trevor Gilliland (13 goals, 5 assists)
No. 64 Antonio Esposito (3 goals, 9 assists)
No. 31 Kevin Belanger (4-3, 3.60 goals against average, .892 save percentage)
No. 29 Jon Szynalski (1-3, 4.89 goals against average, .895 save percentage)
No. 26 Nathaniel Mettenburg (36)
No. 15 Nicholas Wilcox (24)
No. 3 Shane Riley (10)
First time for everything
Ohio and Slippery Rock have never faced each other before this series. The Rock are 6-6 this season, and their most recent American Collegiate Hockey Opponent, John Carroll, lost only 1-0.
Ohio has the advantage on paper, but it needs to focus on what it has worked on the past week in order to make up for their recent skid.
This week Bell invited Duante Abercrombie, head coach of the U16 Washington Little Caps, to Bird in order to provide a fresh face for the team to learn from. Bell and Abercrombie met each other as coaches at hockey camp in Maine and their schedules have finally lined up to bring Abercrombie to Athens.
Abercrombie’s arrival is a timely one too. Bell has been eager to shake up the practice formula and find something to break the Bobcats recent losing woes. Early in the work his main priority was sharpening up the defense, helping them improve on controlling the opponent’s offense and preventing goals. His work with the forwards focused on evasive skating and creating more scoring opportunities.
“He focused basically on how not to suck,” Bell joked.