In a two-game road series against Michigan, Ohio lost its first game on Friday 3-2 but bounced back on Saturday to win 5-1.
A lack of physicality and energy early on hurt Ohio in the long run in its 3-2 loss on Friday, while penalties and turnovers cost them in the end.
The first few minutes of the game had a slow start. Neither team looked overly aggressive and neither team could find the net. Ohio would get things started when Holden Wipula drew first blood. Wipula took a speeding shot left of the goal and put it right past the Michigan goalie to put the Bobcats up 1-0.
Through the first half of the first period, Matthew Zazon looked like he might continue his hot streak until Adam Kolcon stepped into the picture. Kolcon got the Wolverines going with their own goal, tying the game at one apiece. This would be just the beginning of Kolcon's night.
The Bobcats regained the lead with a goal from Nikalas Jozefiak and an assist from Nick Coward and Salvatore Poggiali. Ohio would keep this lead for less than a minute and would not see it again. Kolcon would put the puck past Zazon again to make it a 2-2 game just before the end of the first period.
With a high-scoring first period and a tie game, you would expect the game's intensity to pick up, but that wasn't the case. The second period opened very slowly, much like the first. That was until Kolcon scored the game-winning goal with 13:55 remaining in the second period. Kolcon scored a hat trick while being the only player to score for Michigan.
For the remainder of the period, Ohio lacked the physicality it had shown in past games. Ohio began to look much more aggressive toward the end of the period. The Bobcats had numbers going down the ice with just under seven minutes remaining in the second period, but Michigan goalie Frank Fee made two quick saves to keep the team's lead. Ohio would again have an opportunity to score but was just off the mark as the puck hit the right crossbar. Michigan would take its lead to the locker room.
The third period was a rough one for the Bobcats. Ohio took many shots from far outside after struggling to get to the crease and put it past Fee. The Bobcats would also lose control of the puck a lot in this period. This lack of offense may have flustered the Bobcats because they would go on to have three unnecessary penalties in the third period.
When Michigan's Brit Rothstein went to the box for high sticking, things started to look brighter for the team. The Bobcat power play would be short-lived as Ethan Tamborski would pick up a penalty of his own, landing him in the box with 7:39 remaining in the game. Things continued to be chippy throughout the rest of the third period and Ohio players appeared visually frustrated.
The Bobcats, technically, weren't out of it, though, as they found themselves with another power play opportunity with 5:24 remaining. Nothing would come of the power play for the Bobcats, though. Nic Capuzzi was caught tripping and Trent Johnson would also be sent to the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct. Ohio would play the final 1:43 down two men and drop its first game against the Wolverines 3-2.
After dropping their first game of the series 3-2, the Bobcats returned Saturday night looking for redemption. Head Coach Zach Hill shared a message with the team following their loss the night prior.
"It's just effort," Hill said. "Our big thing is if we want to have consistency, we have to have effort in every shift."
Ohio came out playing a lot more physically and aggressively on offense than it had the night prior. The Bobcats spent much time in the penalty box in the first period. Peyton Botich would spend 10 minutes in the box after picking up a misconduct call. No one would score in the first, but Ohio had set the tone for the game early. Coach Hill didn't mind the penalties, though.
"That just happens in a game," Hill said. "They're going to call some against us, but we're very confident in our PK units."
The Bobcats' aggressive play began to pay off in the second period. With 15:31 remaining in the second period Trent Johnson would be the first to score off of an assist from Josh Folmer. Just 21 seconds later, Folmer would go the length of the ice and score a goal of his own to put the Bobcats up 2-0. The Michigan crowd went silent and the Ohio bench erupted with energy.
That wouldn't be it for Ohio's offense in the second period, though. Winger Nick Coward would put one past Michigan goalie Grant Neuhardt all the way out from the stripe. Michigan would finally have an answer as forward Sebastian Culver made it a 3-1 game with no assist. Ohio's Nick Ventura expanded his team's lead to put Ohio ahead 4-1. The Bobcats would take their 4-1 lead to the locker room.
Ohio set the tone physically early in the third with big hits and an aggressive offense. The Bobcats could've backed off and tried to play keep away, but instead, they continued to pressure Neuhardt and the Michigan defense. However, Neuhardt would rise to the occasion with save after save to try and keep his team alive.
Both teams would have some penalty problems as Ohio had four in the third and Michigan had five of its own. Ohio's Joe Folmer and Michigan's Avello Cohen would pick up unsportsmanlike conduct that would take them out of the game.
With 2:53 remaining in the game, Brennen Walker would lengthen the Ohio lead once more off of an assist from Sal Poggiali. Michigan finished out the last 1:24 down a man and Ohio would take the 5-1 win back to Athens with them.