With college football off to the races, fall sports are starting to get into full swing. With that, comes the long-awaited return of Bobcats DII hockey, and the season opener against the University of Cincinnati on Oct. 6.
Ohio finished the 2022-23 season with a record of 22-7 and is going to look to build on the success it had last season.
Perhaps the biggest change for the Bobcats as they head into this new season is the head coaching change. Zach Hill comes in as Ohio’s fourth head coach in three years, following Ryan Dunning in 2022-23.
The Bobcats will also be missing their top three scorers from last season in centers Nick Erker (38 points) and Hayden Ripley (26 points), and forward Tyler Kalley (25 points). Among returners, top scorers include defenseman Ethan Tamborski (23 points) and wingers Peyton Botich (21 points) and Nick Coward (19 points).
Although the question of where the Bobcats’ scoring will come from remains, the defense should remain strong with starting goalie Matthew Zazon. Zazon is coming off a season in which he had saved 94% of the 802 shots against him, which ranked second in ACHA Men’s Division II, among players receiving at least 500 shots. Top defensemen Gavin George and Tamborski also return after successful freshman seasons for the Bobcats.
Roster and coaching instability isn’t something the Bobcats are unfamiliar with. In the past two seasons, the team has experienced extreme turnover and has thrived despite it. On top of their 22-7 record this past season, they finished 6th in the ACHA Men’s Division II Southwest division.
The mystery of the freshman Bobcats looms. Ohio boasts 10 new freshmen including seven new forwards and three defensemen. After having as productive of a rookie class as they had last year, the Bobcats are going to look to get similar value out of this year’s group.
Overall, this is a young team looking to build on the spurts of dominance it showcased in last year’s season. Questions regarding scoring and coaching will be answered and a promising defense will look to become truly elite.