2014-15 Season Recap
Ohio DII Hockey started last year’s 2014-15 campaign not on the ice but rather across the Hocking River on top of a hill and in the woods, near the historic “Ridges Asylum”. The Bobcats participated in team building activities and trust exercises lead by Ohio University’s Outdoor Pursuits program. As the team discussed such goals as winning the TSCHL tournament, making the programs first trip to the ACHA National tournament and other ultimate goals, the question was posed, “how are you going to reach these goals?” And that’s when the discussion switched from lofty end of the year goals to smaller day to day goals in order to reach the end result. Coach Oberlin said, “The goal of our team building exercises last year was to create trust and cohesiveness among the players. The discussion of goal setting was meant for the team to understand the dedication to the process each member will need to put forth in order for the team as a whole to succeed.” The Bobcats having set their goals, seemed ready to take on the season and through the first half the team appeared to be on the right track finishing with a record of 13-3-2 and ranked 4th in the ACHA Southeast Region.
The second half of the 2014-15 season would test the Bobcats depth as injuries and academic opportunities left the team with four healthy defensemen and a heavy hit down the middle of the ice losing #12 Max Lurie and #22 Tyler Gebhardt with season ending injuries. The Bobcats continued to work each day in practice and battle in every weekend series but the team struggled to string together wins and finished the second half of the regular season with an 8-8 record, making the final regular season record 21-11-2. As the season was coming closer to the end, much speculation was being made of whether the Bobcats would stay ranked in the top ten of the ACHA Southeast Region and make the programs first trip to regionals. History was made when the ACHA released the final rankings and the Bobcats stood strong at 7th.
As the Bobcats entered into ACHA playoff hockey for the first time, they faced a familiar foe in Liberty University who the Bobcat’s split a two game series with early in the year. The team went into the game confident in their ability to play their style but going down 2-0 early would test the team. Of the team’s efforts coach Oberlin stated, “It would have been easy for the guys to quit. It would have been the easy way out for them to just roll over but that’s not what these players are about. They showed no panic and continued to work. They played the style of game that earned them a spot in regionals and they represented themselves and Ohio University well.” The Bobcats battled back from the two goal deficit and entered the third period with a 2-2 tied game on goals from freshmen, #26 Gustafson and #25 Drell. With just under ten minutes remaining in the third period Liberty would score on a scramble in front of the net to put them up 3-2. The Bobcats would create multiple scoring opportunities as the time seemed to fly off the clock but with the boost of offensive efforts came equal opportunities for Liberty and the goaltending of Jake Bloomfield was called upon time and time again as he turned away 50+ shots. Liberty would add an empty net goal late in the third period to clinch the victory but the underdog Bobcats had given the Flames a run for their money. The Bobcats may have lost their first ACHA playoff hockey game but they certainly didn’t disappoint and have given future opponents something to think about.
The following weekend Ohio DII Hockey traveled to Cincinnati to take part in the TSCHL tournament and with only 10 skaters the team was able to take a victory in the first round from Wright State University. The following day the Bobcats faced a rested and full strength Louisville squad. Again, falling down early in the game but never quitting were the Bobcats as they battled for sixty minutes but eventually fell 7-4 to the future 2014-15 TSCHL Champions.
The Ohio DII Hockey team may not have reached their ultimate goals in 2014-15 but what they have done is solidified a program led by players with character, work ethic, positive attitudes and a drive to reach the next level. The future looks bright for the 2015-16 Bobcats and there is no doubt they will come ready to compete!