After a slow start to the season, Ohio’s offense took the strides it needed to have more success down the road.
Yes, the Bobcats (1-11) lost in a heartbreaker to the Flames (8-3) Saturday night at Bird Arena, but the Bobcats can at least take solace in the fact that their offense put themselves in a solid position to win. That’s not to say the 4-3 loss is solely on the defense, as it was small mistakes all through the night that cost Ohio a win. But the improvement on offense can’t be ignored.
After the offense faltered the previous night to Liberty, Ohio coach Cole Bell was happy with much of what he saw from his players Saturday.
“We played solid, solid hockey,“ Bell said. “We found the back of the net; we found our groove; we found some offense. Certainly got to be happy with three goals.”
The three goals from the Bobcats marked only the third time all season they put up at least that many points in a game. It was also the most points they scored since an 8-4 loss to Adrian in February. A consistently competitive offense combined with a talented defense could make the last few games of the season much more memorable for Ohio.
When the Bobcats were down by two scores in the second period, Ryan Higgins finally put Ohio on the board near the halfway point of the game. The Bobcats are a team that has struggled to adjust after their opponent gets a rally going, but Higgins’s goal put the energy in Bird Arena in Ohio’s favor.
The real show came at the beginning of the third period, when Aiden Grieco and Alex Singley scored goals 20 seconds apart less than a minute after it started to stun the Flames and give the Bobcats the lead for the first time all night. Aside from Ohio’s win against Adrian a few weeks prior, the two goals scored may have been the most exciting chain of events the Bobcats have experienced all season, and it almost looked like they would have their first comeback win of the year before Liberty got the victory later.
The entire third period was fast-paced, but Ohio was ready for all the intensity and score flipping.
“That was our goal, was to play that fast-paced hockey,” forward Aiden Grieco said. “We were expecting it, honestly.”
This production came without Andrew Wells and Kyle Craddick, who are some of Ohio’s biggest contributors on offense. Without them, other Bobcats stepped up to the role handed to them and picked up the slack that risked being detrimental to the team.
Bell has focused more on executing the current game plan better all season rather than changing the play style up, and that applied to Saturday night, too. Despite the loss, he thinks the Bobcats found their identity.
“I think this game was much better than last night,“ Bell said. “We’re getting better. That’s what we want from these guys.”