West Virginia came to Athens trying to stir up trouble, but Ohio was not going to let anyone bully it on home ice. The Bobcats won an aggressive game Thursday night in Bird Arena, beating the Mountaineers 6–1.
Although the game was delayed about 30 minutes due to mechanical issues on West Virginia’s bus, it did not take long for Ohio to give a crowded Bird Arena what it was waiting for. Ohio did what it had done before, striking first and setting the tone for the game. Less than three minutes into the first period, forward Alex Singley weaved his way through Mountaineers players to score the Bobcats’ first goal.
From there, the middle of the first period was quiet until there were around six minutes left in it when Ohio scored another goal, then another and another. Players on Ohio’s bench were fired up, slamming their sticks against the ground and high-fiving their teammates on the ice. Ohio used its explosive start and electric energy to help propel it through the rest of the game, even when things started to slow down a little.
“I think we started off really well,” Ohio coach Lionel Mauron said. “Then we kept pushing at least until mid-game, and then I think we really realized that we had two more (games) coming, and we kind of took our foot off the gas a little bit. But scoring these quick back-to-back goals, that always gives us a lot of energy.”
The second period was scoreless for both teams, but the Bobcats found other ways to get out their energy. When the Mountaineers took hits at them, the Bobcats hit back, sticking up for themselves and their teammates. Ohio finished the game with 14 penalty minutes, but when forward Andrew Wells made his way to the penalty box after a hit, Mauron was proud.
“Wells stepped up for a teammate,” Mauron said. “I'm really proud of him for doing that. That says a lot about his leadership.”
There were more penalties from Ohio. Throughout the game, forward Ryan Higgins was running into Mountaineers left and right. Five minutes into the second period, he was called for interference. Shortly thereafter, Wells made his way to the penalty box for the first time that night for high-sticking. Aiden Grieco followed right behind him after being called for boarding.
Luckily for Ohio, West Virginia spent more time in the penalty box. The Mountaineers finished the game with 22 penalty minutes.
Forward JT Schimizzi was proud of his teammates as well. He thought the bonds he and his teammates share were evident Thursday.
“I'm confident anybody would stick up for anyone,” Schimizzi said. “We're real close in the locker room. There’s 30 some of us, but everyone's tight. Everyone plays for each other.”
A couple different faces made an appearance for Ohio, including Trevor Wittkopf, who scored his first goal as a Bobcat on Thursday night.
All six of Ohio’s goals were scored by a different player. By the end of the night, Ohio had 43 shots on goal. West Virginia only had 13.
Mauron said it was an ideal game for the Bobcats, and that he’s hoping for two more before the weekend is over.