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Ohio Hockey Takes on Niagara for Senior Night on Feb. 25, 2023.

Hockey: Ohio struggles but wins final game at home

As Luc Reeve threw himself at the loose puck to knock it away from Ohio’s defensive zone, cheers erupted in Bird Arena. Seconds ticked down on the clock until there was no more, signaling that Ohio had won its final game at home this season. 

It may not have been pretty, but the Bobcats got the job done by beating Niagara 4-3 on Saturday. The win was the Bobcats’ 23rd at Bird Arena this season and gave them the most wins they’ve had at home in a season over the past 10 years. 

The game started with lots of festivities. Ohio recognized its graduating seniors J.T. Schimizzi, Sam Turner, Zach Curry, Ryan Hastings, Andrew Wells, Blake Rossi, Ryan Leonard and Andrew Sacca. Each player was honored in front of an excited crowd and got to share a moment with their families. 

It being his senior night, it was fitting that Hastings scored Ohio’s first goal of the game. After around 15 minutes of scoreless play, he put Ohio up 1-0 on an assist from Phil Angervil. It was only the defenseman’s second goal this season, but he gave a struggling Ohio a bit of energy.

That energy carried over to the second period. Just over six minutes in, Aiden Grieco sent the puck soaring into the top corner of the net to put Ohio up 2-0. Another senior played a part in this goal too, as Rossi earned the assist. 

The goal came at a crucial time for the Bobcats. Two of their key players, Turner and Jack Glen, were serving 10-minute game misconduct penalties during the second period as the result of a fight that broke out near the end of the first. The Bobcats were also missing Laker Aldridge and Hollander Thompson, who both sat out after being disqualified from Friday’s game. 

Having a two-goal lead kept the Bobcats confident, even though they were missing some of their leaders for most of the period and the game. However, some of their holes did show on the power play. The Bobcats had several chances to increase their lead with an extra man on the ice, but instead went 0-for-6. 

“We were missing two key pieces of our power play tonight and we had to piece it together pretty quick,” Ohio coach Lionel Mauron said.  “Without practice, it's kind of hard to find those little movements.”

The final period was a slow one for Ohio, and it started to let Niagara come back. Goalie Justin Damon grew tired from starting in both games this weekend, and allowed three goals in the third. The rest of the team also started to feel the exhaustion from the excitement of the day. 

“There's a lot of stuff that goes on outside the rink (on senior night)," Mauron said. “It's energy draining, and we saw that today.”

Wells scored a goal in the third period, which, combined with a Tommy Kloepfer goal in the second, enabled Ohio to hold on and earn the win. 

Winning the final game at home meant a lot to the seniors, especially to team captain Turner. 

“It's an emotional night," Turner said. “It's difficult to play on a night like that, but I'm glad we were able to get it done and get a win in the last game at Bird.”

Saying goodbye to its seniors will be tough, but Ohio has a bright future ahead of it. It will still have the guidance of Sacca and Wells, who plan on returning for graduate school, as well as its talented underclassman. 

“It's really a special atmosphere (here), nothing you can really replicate,” Turner said. “So you know, just thankful for everything that the program has given me and looking forward to what's coming in the future for myself and the future of this program for these boys as well.” 


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