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Ohio forward John McLaughlin (11) trying to get the puck back Liberty defense Cam Kuhl during the Bobcats' game against Liberty on Feb. 11, 2022, in Bird Ice Arena. The Bobcats lost 2-4.

Hockey: Ohio falls behind in close loss to Liberty

Ohio’s frustrations have extended another night. Despite getting off to one of its strongest starts of the season, it dropped its third straight game 4-2 to Liberty on Friday night.

The Bobcats came closer to victory than it first appeared. They'd started off strong by shutting the Flames out in the first period and denying them nine shots on goal. The Bobcats created traffic in front of the net and formed a solid defense that took some of the pressure off of goalie Matt Server. At one point, Donny Tehan even dove head first to the right of the net to swat away the puck.

Defense in front of the net has been somewhat of a struggle for the Bobcats this season, but they have shown signs of improvement. The Bobcats know their weaknesses and have been working to fix them.

“We worked on it a ton,” Ohio coach Lionel Mauron said. “That's been a struggle all year and special teams, so we worked on those two things last week and it paid off. We got our holes that we need to fix, but I think we're improving every game, so we're on the right track.”

Ohio even managed to take the lead early. J.T. Schimizzi tallied the first goal of the night with 3:41 left in the first period. Ohio had grabbed the lead, but it wouldn’t last. Jason Foltz and Devin Melice scored early in the second to put Liberty up by a goal.

Even though Liberty bounced back, Ohio responded. John McLaughlin scored on the power play to tie the game by the end of the second period.

Server tried to shake off the two goals given up in the second period, but Liberty kept piling on shots. Server finished the night with 31 saves on 35 shots on goal and allowed two more goals in the third period to give Liberty the final leg up.

Ohio managed to stay in the fight, thanks in part to its point leaders. Sam Turner, Drew Magyar, and Schimizzi all lead Ohio with 31 points, and all three earned another against Liberty. Schimizzi now leads Ohio with 18 goals this season due to his goal in the first period. Turner, who leads the team with 20 assists, set up McLaughlin’s goal in the second period. Magyar also had an assist on Friday.

The Bobcats also managed to keep themselves out of the penalty box. The Bobcats played clean, and their only penalty of the game was called on Aiden Grieco for roughing with 1:48 left in the third period. They kept themselves out of the penalty box and prevented the Flames from going on the power play until the final stretch.

“I thought we were very disciplined,” Mauron said. “We skated well. We didn't take sticks penalties because we were late. It’s all
about effort, and I thought the guys bought into it. I’m proud of that.”

Liberty capitalized on Ohio’s only penalty kill of the night and scored its final goal with just under two minutes to play. Ohio couldn’t mount a response in time. Ohio hasn’t won a game in Bird Arena in 2022, and it lost a game it had shut Liberty out of for the first period on Friday.


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