For the first time this season, Ohio has been swept. A 4-1 loss to No. 5 Iowa State on Saturday wasn’t just its third loss of the season, however. It showed that it has a long road ahead in order to match the top teams in the nation.
Iowa State (10-0) came to Athens undefeated and as one of the top teams in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. Ohio entered with the weekend as the No. 9 team in the national rankings.
Iowa State is the best team Ohio has faced this season. While Ohio folded quickly in the first game of the weekend, it stood a chance of splitting the series on Saturday.
The Bobcats led after 20 minutes when J.T. Schimizzi found the net. Schimizzi also scored the first goal for the Bobcats on Friday night, and has provided offensive production even when the rest of the roster has hit a cold patch. Instead of ending the first period being down by three like they had Friday, the Bobcats were in the lead.
But the lead was too good to last.
Penalties flared up once again for the Bobcats. They had largely avoided the penalty box in recent games and were able to kill the off when one of the Bobcats were forced to sit in the box.
That wasn’t the case Saturday. After Patrick Roach was sent to the box for roughing early in the second period, Iowa State’s Chad McIlwain scored on the power play to tie the game. Two more Iowa State goals over the course of the second period — including a second power play goal after Philippe Angervil was charged with slashing — wiped away the slim lead Ohio had built.
The Bobcats were in a hole once again. Had those two penalties not occurred, the Bobcats might’ve been able to keep the game within arm’s reach. But the Cyclones took advantage of the few mistakes the Bobcats made.
“I think we took a couple of bad penalties,” Ohio coach Lionel Mauron said. “They took advantage of it with two goals on the power play.”
Penalties are inevitable for any team, but the penalties that have troubled Ohio this season often happen because a player is late to the play or has spent too long on the ice.
“All these bad penalties where you take a stick penalty behind the play or in the offensive zone just kind of suck the energy out of the room,” Mauron said. “That really hurt us today so we need to be careful with those.”
Ohio’s series against Iowa State was a wake-up call. In addition to penalties, it was apparent Iowa State was a step up from Ohio’s previous opponents. While Ohio’s schedule might become easier next weekend when it faces No. 24 Illinois, it is about to enter a difficult stretch.
Ohio's next three series will be against ranked opponents. It can’t afford slow starts and costly penalties that were common through its first nine games. If Ohio continues to make the same mistakes, Mauron knows what might follow.
“I’ll tell you right now, that’s going to end our season if we don’t fix it,“ Mauron said.