The Bobcats made their presence known at the Chicago Classic, defeating each team they faced. On Nov. 19, Ohio played its biggest competitor, Minot State, who was ranked number one in the ACHA D1 Independent division. Against all odds, Ohio owned the ice and closed out the showcase by defeating Minot State 5-2.
Ohio's defense took hold of the game, making stop after stop. Ohio Goalie Justin Damon held the defense together, keeping an intense tone driven by the desire to keep Ohio in the game. Damon completed 35 saves and was announced a star of the game for Ohio.
Head Coach Lionel Mauron acknowledged the number of close calls for Ohio.
“It was scary and stressful but Justin played great.” Mauron said, “I think that he is one of the best goalies in the league, so we know if he's playing we have a chance to win for sure.”
The Bobcats had everyone in the arena on the edge of their seats. Minot State used its speed to push to score, as Ohio combated with defensive strategy. The puck was shy of a Minot State goal a few times, raising the intensity with each nerve-wracking play.
The first two goals of the game came from Minot State, however, Ohio looked motivated by this start. The Bobcats performed stronger than usual, the team meshed together well to move the puck quicker and with more vigor.
Ohio made the score 1-2 with a goal by Will Cohen, followed by a goal tying it up. Hollander Thompson scored with 7:52 left in the second period with an assist from Aiden Grieco.
“I think it was one of our best games offensively, we moved our feet with the puck which we haven't done in the past at least as well,” Mauron said.
Laker Aldrige made major plays for Ohio this weekend, including scoring back-to-back goals at the end of the second period, sending the Bobcats into the locker room leading 4-2. They knew the value behind a lead as such and knew to not let up, Ohio came back looking even stronger keeping all shots out of the goal.
Another key attribute to Ohio’s success was Donovan Burdette. The defenseman saved Ohio in the back throughout the game and was where he was needed throughout the entirety of his playtime.
Baron Stibbe scored the final goal with 13:33 left in the third period off of a powerplay to put an exclamation mark on Ohio’s 5-2 win.
“The whole year we were kind of waiting for a reason to come together, and I don’t know if it’s being on the road together for four days that kind of created that but it seems like we are really starting to come together,” Mauron said.
Ohio seemed to turn a corner this weekend and showed the talent that it obtains. The game marks a switch in The Bobcat’s season, setting the bar higher for their performance.