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Ohio forward JT Schimizzi (12) celebrates after scoring a goal during the Bobcats hockey game on Friday, February 21, 2020, at Bird Arena in Athens, Ohio. (FILE)

Hockey: Ohio makes the right adjustments before, during its first win of the year

Ohio coach Cole Bell knew if his team could defeat undefeated Adrian, then he would have to make some adjustments from the night before.

Ohio and Adrian looked mostly even in the first period of Thursday’s road game, but things quickly fell apart for the Bobcats in the second period. The Bulldogs scored six goals in the remaining time while Ohio could only muster three. The Bobcats lost 8-4, but it learned important details about their opponent  — and themselves  — heading into the Friday night rematch at Bird Arena.

Bell made the right adjustments and told his team everything they needed to hear in between periods in order to secure the Bobcats’ 2-1 victory over the Bulldogs, their first of the season. 

In the past, Ohio (1-5) had fallen apart after the first period, as over 80% of the Bobcats’ goals allowed this season have come after the first period. On Friday, Ohio allowed just one goal all night. 

Ohio’s adjustments also came before the game. The Bobcats saw some new names on the starting lineup Friday. Shawn Baird, Colin Felton, Ryan Higgins and Ryan Leonard got their first starts of the season. Bell wanted a group of starters who would bring a lot of energy on the ice to start the game, and the changes seemed to pay off after Ohio took an early 1-0 lead. 

“We had a game plan to be physical from the start,“ Baird said. “So that’s where that came from.”

As for the adjustments made in-between periods, Bell only wanted to his team to keep their emotions high for all 60 minutes of the game.

“Last night was not our best,“ Bell said. “We were a little flat-footed. Tonight was just about getting back to business.”

Goaltender Max Karlenzig had similar things to say about how important emotions were in the victory over Adrian (8-1). In Thursday’s loss, Karlenzig was pulled halfway through the game after allowing five goals to get past him. He came in more motivated the next night. 

“I felt like a couple of the goals yesterday were because there was a lack of effort from my part,“ Karlenzig said. “Today, I just wanted to throw everything I could on the puck and just give it my all.”

Karlenzig allowed only one goal after getting shot at 41 times by the Bulldogs, and his late-game saves bailed the Bobcats out multiple times. He knew that Adrian would try to take long shots by blocking his view so that he couldn’t see the puck coming toward him, and while he struggled to defend that play in the first game, he didn’t let it take advantage of him two nights in a row. 

Despite the lackluster record, Ohio always shows it can compete with its opponents, and Friday proved that its key is staying consistent throughout the entire game after its strong starts.

“We’re right up there with them,“ Baird said. “We just stuck to our game plan, and it worked out well for us.”


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