After a much needed break over Thanksgiving, No. 10 Ohio will play its final Central States Collegiate Hockey League opponent before its winter break when it travels to No. 9 Illinois this weekend.
The Bobcats are coming off a split series with Lindenwood and looking to end league play before winter break on a good note.
“It was an emotional win against Lindenwood,” Bell said. “We felt good going through break and we just have to carry that energy.”
Puck drop: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: University of Illinois Ice Arena
How to watch: Bobcat Productions presents Ohio Hockey
Meet the Opponent
Top point scorers
No. 26 Thomas Kolaz (10 goals, 13 assists)
No. 15 Braden Stewart (7 goals, 11 assists)
No. 24 Robert Ernsting (3 goals, 13 assists)
No. 1 Jacob Barnhart (4-4, 2.46 goals against average, .905 save percentage)
No. 30 Elliot Gerth (6-2, 2.74 goals against average, .876 save percentage)
No. 15 Braden Stewart (49)
No. 26 Thomas Kolaz (48)
No. 7 Zachary Hayes (22)
The Bobcats and the Illini split their last series on Feb. 8-9, 2019. Ohio shutout Illinois 1-0 on Friday, and Illinois won 3-2 in a three-round shootout on Saturday.
After the win against the Lions, Bell made it clear that Ohio needed to carry the momentum into its next matchup.
There’s only one problem: Thanksgiving break made that difficult.
“In college hockey, you might carry momentum from a Friday win into Saturday,” Bell said. “That week between games is a lull. It’ll be tough to carry through.”
The Bobcats came out of Thanksgiving break eager to get back to the ice. Bell saw an overflow of motivation during practice. After a week off the ice, Ohio finally can put its energy to good use.
Despite splitting their series with Lindenwood, Ohio dropped one place in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I Rankings to No. 10, while Illinois jumped to No. 9 after it swept Robert Morris.
This series will likely knock one of these teams out of the top 10, and Ohio hopes the series can adjust them to their difficult schedule.
“It helps us to have a tough schedule,” Bell said. “These games are big in our conference, but it goes back to building off of Lindenwood. Good teams can string together multiple wins so that’s our focus.”
Earlier in the week, Gianni Evangelisti and Kyle Craddick both wore no-contact jerseys to practice due to injuries.
Evangelisti missed the second game against Lindenwood due to tightness in his neck. By Wednesday, Evangelisti was cleared to play for the weekend. Craddick has had continuing problems with his shoulder, but Bell assured that the no-contact jersey was strictly precautionary. Craddick is expected to play against the Illini.