Friday night saw the start of a two-game weekend series between the Division II Ohio hockey team (9-4-0) and Indiana (16-2-0).
Ohio, having taken a strong 5-1 record during the month of November, looked to keep its winning streak in Bird Arena rolling as the calendar turned toward December, being undefeated so far in three home games.
Ultimately, Ohio was unable to keep its momentum going, falling 3-1 to Indiana.
The Bobcats looked to start fast, putting a couple of quick shots on goal and possessing the puck in the attacking third of the ice in the opening minutes. Indiana appeared ready with a steady counterattack and excellent goalie play. The Hoosiers and Bobcats were ready for battle, neither team willing to back down and always contacting another player to fight for the puck.
With 12 minutes left to play in the first period, neither team had found the back of the net and neither team had gained control of the game, keeping the puck around center ice most of the time. Indiana tried to find a more aggressive approach and, at the 9:56 mark of the period, put one past the Ohio goalie to make the score 1-0.
After the first score was on the board, both teams found that physicality may also be their friend on the ice, leading to a lot of aggression from both teams. A short altercation led to a penalty at the 5:24 mark, giving Ohio a powerplay. The favor was returned with about 40 seconds to play on a slashing penalty by the Bobcats’ Nikalas Jozefiak, allowing the Hoosiers to finish the period on a powerplay where they could not execute anything from their advantage. At the end of the first period, it was Indiana leading Ohio 1-0.
Period 2 opened by finishing the powerplay for Indiana. Ohio, being down a man, found itself opening in a more defensive mindset with a conservative offensive attack until it balanced the numbers on the ice.
Indiana found a rhythm with smooth passing and consistent possession, leading to shots. The Bobcats stood strong, combatting the attack with strong defensive play, leading to offensive chances of their own.
At the 9:27 mark of the period, Ohio’s Jack Mueller received a penalty. This once again gave the advantage to the Hoosiers, who hoped to look for more success after failing to find the goal to finish the first period.
Excellent play by goalie Matthew Zazon was key to stopping a barrage of Indiana attacks, as well as excellent clearances by Ohio. The Bobcats were once again given a penalty with 3 minutes to play in the period; this time, it was Xander Danner taking a trip to the penalty box and allowing the Hoosiers another advantage.
The counterattack became pivotal in the last 1:30 of the period, as both teams showed their prowess of effectively putting shots on goal, but nothing would come to fruition. It resulted in a scoreless period, and the score remained 1-0 Indiana heading into the final period.
Both teams looked to make a statement to start the third period. The team that made the loudest noise was the Hoosiers, specifically Colin Ruffner, who scored an early goal just over a minute into the period. Indiana now led Ohio 2-0 early in the final period.
The Hoosiers stuck to what had gotten them to the lead so far, continuing with an aggressive playstyle; it got the best of them, as defenseman Jack Hawkins was penalized.
It was now-or-never time for the Bobcats.
The two teams would not go without altercation, as Ohio’s Peyton Botich and Indiana’s Andrew Chambers were given a penalty each, leaving only four men on the floor for each team for a brief period.
This final period had become very chippy with the refs getting a workout as Indiana’s David Jegers was guilty of a penalty as well, giving the Bobcats an advantage and some life.
The powerplay could not have come at a better time, as Salvatore Poggiali got the Bobcats on the board.
Indiana now only led by a score of 2-1 and it felt like the momentum had shifted inside Bird Arena. The play on the ice had shifted almost exclusively to the Indiana half as Ohio threatened a second goal to even the score late. The Bobcats would find an untimely penalty by Tyler Walker inconvenient, as Indiana would strike with 4:37 to play, reclaiming a 2-point lead over Ohio for a score of 3-1.
That score would end up being final and Indiana would move to a record of 17-2 and Ohio fell with a 9-5 record. These teams meet again Saturday as Ohio looks to change the result and get back in the win column.