Ohio Hockey has had a disappointing year for their standards, but finished the season on a hot, six-game, home winning streak. Good stuff. They leave today for Rochester, New York to compete for their first ACHA National Title since 2004.
I'll be honest with you, this team has surprised me so many times this year that they'll probably end up winning the whole thing.
Basically, going into the weekend, people close to the team were optimistic.
I talked to Head Coach Dan Morris and Captain Jim Roach this week.
Coach Morris said that he was most impressed by how his team was able to shut it down defensively. They were giving up gift goals off of rebounds early in the season, leaving their goaltenders save percentages high, but their goals against were also too high. He said that the team collectively has improved their defensive zone coverage and teams are having to shoot from the less "prime real estate" as he called it. "Marshall is able to see the shots coming from far out and having to make only one save, rather than 2 or more," Morris said.
A lot of the Bobcats' success late in the season has come from goaltender Paul Marshall's outstanding play. This past weekend against Central Oklahoma, Marshall recorded his sixth shutout of the season, tying an Ohio record.
Team Captain Jim Roach is also working on getting his team in gear for the playoffs. When I asked him about getting the guys motivated he said they didn't need any extra motivation because everyone was working on it on their own.
The entire time I was interviewing Roach, other guys on the team were banging sticks around getting themselves jacked up. It was kind of intense...
The team will play against some tough competition in the tournament this week, but if they continue to play to their strengths (physical in all three zones, stout defensive hockey) they will have a great shot in the ACHAs. And, since the game is being played at a neutral site, the Bobcats won't be at a disadvantage if they have to play against skilled teams like Lindenwood and undefeated Illinois.
It's playoff hockey season, baby, and I'm pumped.
More importantly, so are the Bobcats.