All good things must come to an end, and Ohio’s strong start to its season came to a halt on Saturday night. Both its 17-game win streak against Pittsburgh and its brief three-game season-opening win streak came to an end with a disappointing 5-2 loss to the Panthers.
For the first time this season, the Bobcats struggled out of the gate. They fell behind just three and a half minutes into the game after a defensive miscue resulted in a goal from Pitt forward Alex Crilley. Ohio responded, however, when senior Drew Magyar tied the game just three minutes later.
The tie wouldn’t last, however. The Panthers took the lead once again with a goal that came during a five-minute power play in the second period.
Penalties were a theme for the Bobcats, who had trouble staying out of the box. It didn’t cost them in their first game against Pitt, but an abundance of penalty minutes hampered them on Saturday.
“The penalties we took were because we were late, or behind the play, and we decided to take a selfish penalty,” Ohio coach Lionel Mauron said. “You can’t win a game if you're in the box for 15 minutes.”
Mauron’s words rang true. While only one of Pitt’s goals was scored on the power play, Ohio’s penalties came at inopportune times and torpedoed its chances of winning.
One of the lone bright spots for Ohio came halfway through the second period when junior forward J.T. Schimizzi tied the game again.
“It was a shift where everybody was working together, everyone was working hard and that’s what happens,” Schimizzi said. “Unfortunately we didn’t have a ton of those shifts tonight but we’re going to come back on Thursday ready to go.”
The shift wasn’t enough, however.
After Schimizzi’s goal, Ohio’s luck turned sour. Pitt scored two goals in 37 seconds to take a commanding 4-2 lead. The Bobcats peppered Pitt’s goal with 27 shots in the second and third periods, but they were unable to score a third goal.
In the end, Ohio generated 42 shots on goal, but only two found the net. Despite the high number of shots, Mauron was not satisfied with the team’s performance.
“I think this weekend we played eight minutes of good hockey,” he said. “To be successful at this level, it takes commitment, and you’ve got to pay the price.”
While he may have been frustrated with how his team played, Mauron took the majority of the blame.
“This failure tonight is just what it is and a lot of it, if not all of it, is on me,” he said. “We’ll just learn from it, and we’ll do better next weekend.”
One positive note for Ohio was the performance of senior goaltender Jackson Chilberg, who made 26 saves in his first appearance of the season. Despite giving up four goals, Chilberg made a number of saves which briefly kept the Bobcats’ hopes of a comeback alive.
This weekend was a far cry from Ohio’s domination of John Carroll to begin the season, but Ohio still has plenty of time to get things right.