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Hockey: 7-1 victory shows team strengths
Ohio placed West Virginia behind a mountain of goals in the Bobcats’ 7-1 victory Friday.
Senior forward Brett Agnew scored on a mid-first period power play, and the Bobcats didn’t look back, scoring six unanswered goals before the Mountaineers finally pushed one past freshman goalie Ryan Heltion with 8:25 remaining in regulation.
Heltion, the first-star of the game, now has a .951 save percentage and 0.96 goals against average after stopping 21-of-22 shots Friday, putting some space between himself and the other goalies vying for time.
“He deserved the start tonight and he did well for the guys,” coach Jonathon Sheridan said.
He added that he felt the team struggled defensively, and that their best defense was good offense.
“All through practice we emphasized hard work,” Sheridan said. “I don’t think we played that well (against John Carroll). That’s what I wanted to do tonight, and the guys did that tonight.”
Sophomore forward Michael Harris scored a goal and two assists, en route to being named the games second star, while paired with junior forward Tom Whetsel.
Harris was originally credited with two goals, but the officials later changed the scorer to J.D. Howard.
“Harry really stepped up tonight,” Sheridan said. “He responded to his poor play early and did what he needed to do. He shoots the puck extremely well and we wanted him to shoot the puck whenever he can.”
The line of Agnew and freshmen Joe Breslin and Patrick Spellacy lit up the score sheet as well, accounting for four of the Bobcats’ goals.
“They’re pretty special guys,” Sheridan said. “They blend together really well and just from the start they wanted to play together. Given that opportunity they’ve taken advantage of it.”
The team felt confident from the onset of warm-ups, junior defenseman Tyler Benson said.
“I think we were moving the pucks to the net on our first shift and we established the forecheck, which set the tone for the pace of the game,” Benson said.
He added that the team established their middle-in drive early, which opened up holes for the puck carrier as well as weak side support.
“We also had a lot of tenacity on the forecheck,” Benson said. “We were fighting for the pucks and winning 50/50 battles.”
A fellow defenseman, senior J.C. Gulch, was scratched for the third consecutive game.
Sheridan said he couldn’t provide an update on the situation. It remains to be known whether he will be dressing for the upcoming weekend matchup with Liberty.
Looking ahead to that matchup, Benson said the energy the team built off this win was crucial.
“It’s always good to get a W, a win’s a win regardless, but obviously with a big team like that coming up you always want as much energy as you can feed off,” Benson said. “Especially going into those upcoming practices. There is still a lot we have to work on this week to prepare for Liberty.”