Ohio has had one thing on its mind for the past 365 days: winning a national championship.
The Bobcats have made some decent runs at the American Collegiate Hockey Association trophy in recent years, but have not looked this primed to win the title in a long time. They enter the tournament ranked No. 2 nationally and have a 7.6% chance to win in all, according to Hockey House.
The first obstacle in Ohio’s way of the national championship is Illinois State. It put on a show in its first tournament game, beating Indiana University of Pennsylvania 9-1. Illinois State stepped on the gas in the third period and scored six goals, which is something that may be hard for Ohio to stop. The Bobcats normally start to feel fatigued in the third period, but they can’t slow down on Friday.
Here is everything you need to know for Ohio’s first game of the ACHA tournament:
Opponent: No. 15 Illinois State (27-6-3)
Location: New England Sports Center (Marlborough, MA)
Date and Time: March 17 at 4:45 p.m.
Watch with a HockeyTV account here.
Live stats here.
Total Points: Tony Campise (52)
Assists: Campise (35)
Goals: Trevor Hilt (28)
Game-winning goals: Hilt (7)
Penalty minutes: Campise (62)
Ohio and Illinois State have never played each other before.
Player to Watch
Justin Damon — Damon has started in the Bobcats’ last five games, earning a win in all but one of them. He’s helped the Bobcats win 15 of their games this season, which is tied for the eighth-most wins in the ACHA.
The junior is known for staying focused throughout games and doing whatever it takes to get the save. He leads the Bobcats’ goalies with 460 saves this season. The Bobcats will be looking to him in the tournament to again do whatever it takes to help them win.
If Ohio wins, it will play the winner of No. 7 Jamestown and No. 10 Niagara on Sunday. Ohio and Niagara played two games less than a month ago, and Ohio won both. It has not played Jamestown since 2017.