Hockey: Ohio unfazed in back-to-back weekend wins over Kent State

Kent State junior forward Brandon McPhail capitalized on his team’s first shot on goal Saturday night, scoring his team-leading 16th goal of the season.

Unfortunately for the Golden Flashes, that shot came with 5:24 remaining in the first period, and the Bobcats had already scored four goals.

It was that kind of weekend for the Kent State (4-29) squad, which hasn’t won since Nov. 17. Ohio took both games in the weekend series, winning Friday 12-4 and Saturday 11-5. The Bobcats dominated every zone of the ice in a physical series that involved five game misconduct penalties, resulting in ejections.

But despite the lopsided score Friday night, the Bobcats came out cold in the first period, leading only 1-0 heading into the first intermission. Senior captain Tyler Pilmore said it was “the most selfish we’ve played all year,” and coach Dan Morris wasn’t pleased either.

“We spent the first period looking for a perfect play,” Morris said. “And we didn’t make a play. We talked about just getting the puck to the net, then we started making plays. We lucked out getting a one-goal period at the end of the first. … We just weren’t good in the first period.”

The Bobcats rebounded to score six goals in the second period and the final five goals in the third period, when senior forward Nick Rostek completed a hat trick and solidified himself as the second leading goal scorer on the team with 20.

Freshman goalie Aaron Alkema, who has served as the backup for junior Fedor Dushkin and graduate student Matt Michno, started in net Friday night and stopped 21 shots on 25 opportunities.

Morris said he was pleased with Alkema’s play and didn’t think he should be held accountable for the four goals he allowed.

“He played well,” Morris said. “There were a couple of good looks when (the score) was 4-2 and 3-1 and he came out, was on top of the crease and was challenging. … There was one clean goal out of four, so I think he played really well.”

Saturday night opened quite differently for Ohio, as it scored four goals in the opening 10:19 and took a commanding 4-1 lead into the first intermission.

“I think we came out and went hard right off the bat,” Morris said. “The guys learned their lesson from last night and I wanted to make sure that it didn’t happen again. … A lot of the credit goes to the guys for being prepared.”

Freshman Garrett Williams scored four goals Saturday night and said he could feel it was a good night from the moment he stepped on the ice.

“Recently I haven’t been burying my chances,” Williams said. “Starting from warm ups, I felt like I was going to have a good game. … After that first goal, it really started flowing.”

And Pilmore, who scored eight points during the weekend, moved into a tie with Morris atop Ohio’s all-time point list with 218, will have the opportunity to break that record at Bird Arena in the Central States Collegiate Hockey League tournament next weekend.

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