Sunday, October 24, 2010

Weekend Observations: Ohio

Collegian weekend recap
OU Post weekend recap
Friday box score (Penn State 3, Ohio 1)
Saturday box score (Ohio 6, Penn State 3)

Well, the home Ohio weekend has come and gone, and the Icers are no longer undefeated. That'll happen with too many turnovers, too many bad penalties, and a well-prepared opponent capable of making you pay for it. As with last week and future weeks, here are my disjointed thoughts.

Penn State seemed to be in a funk throughout most of both games, which ties in with something I said last week: the Icers are at their best when playing in control, not emotionally. Fortunately, there was enough concentrated life in the third period Friday to at least get a split from the weekend.

On Friday's eventual game-winning goal (start at 1:02:21), Eric Steinour had a tremendous sequence, where he laid a big hit just in front of the tunnel to the locker rooms, then seconds later knocked the puck loose, allowing Taylor Cera to pick it up, walk in, and score. Cera had plenty of room to do so because OU's defensemen were both slow to get back in front of the play after chasing the puck through the corner. Hopefully that goal, Cera's first of the season, gets him going a little bit, as he had to watch Paul Daley take his spot with Tim O'Brien and Chris Cerutti. Daley acquitted himself well, so that should be a mini-battle to watch going forward.

Much credit is due Ohio's Brett Agnew, who was given increased responsibility for the weekend due to an injury to Nick Rostek. Agnew's answer? Points on five of OU's seven goals on the weekend, including a hat trick Saturday. Yikes.

Yes, the officiating was awful over the second half of the game Saturday, with several muggings - Michael Longo a couple times, including after an offsides whistle - resulting in no call. The capper might have been Cerutti getting nailed for diving on a hook by OU's Jared Fuhs. But I refuse to go on an officiating rant here, the game was lost well before things got out of hand with the zebras. And on rewatching the Longo clip, it looked like the tackle on the offsides happened because Longo shot the puck after the whistle, a no-no. The rest followed from that, with Longo ultimately getting called for a retaliation penalty. Both players probably should've gone for it, but as officiating errors go, it's somewhere south of Crime of the Century status.

Anyway, remember this quote from Tim O'Brien after an incident last Saturday against UCO?
“I put our team in a bad position there and just let my emotions get the best of me. It won’t happen again the rest of the year.”
Fast forward to OU Saturday and O'Brien takes a misconduct for his actions following the Bobcats' sixth goal. So did he break his promise? I'm guessing he doesn't think so:
“I don’t know, that ref I guess was just out to get us. You can’t do anything about it. I don’t know why he gave me 10 minutes. I was just tapping my stick at him telling him nice call.”
No worries Tim, you wear your heart on your sleeve, but that's why we like you so much.

Dominic Morrone, despite battling a groin injury, might have been the Icers best player over the course of the weekend, but particularly on Saturday, where he was in on both of Penn State's power play goals (1G, 1A), with the goal coming on a highlight-reel end-to-end rush. He also had the empty-net clincher on Friday.

One thing that might be understated in all of this: Ohio's schedule probably prepared them for a high-intensity, big-time series much better than did Penn State's. The Bobcats had a weekend against current No. 2 Davenport (who themselves earned three of four points from a weekend with No. 1/two-time defending champs Lindenwood), as well as a decent Oakland team. Meanwhile, the Icers' best opponent (by a lot) was a Central Oklahoma team who now sits at 3-7-1. Brutal schedule, yes, but 3-7-1 is 3-7-1. And other than Penn State, they really didn't show up in any of those seven (plus one).

The good news? Penn State's now been in one of those series, and it should serve the Icers well going into Liberty and then the ESCHL schedule.

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