Bobcats, Rockets have more than one date this weekend

From The Athens Messenger

By Allan Brown


In an ironic twist, both the OU football team and the Bobcats’ hockey squad have a date with destiny with the University of Toledo this weekend.

That irony is not lost on Ice ‘Cats Head Coach Lionel Mauron.

“It’s amazing to see our football team’s success. They play with an incredible sense of belief, and you can see the special connection these players have. I hope we come out with three wins against Toledo this week.”

And obviously, the Rockets share the opposite sentiment and Mauron said his squad needs to come out prepared for what UT will bring to the ice.

As for his own team, Mauron says not to overlook the Ice Rockets (3-6-2), even though there is quite a big difference in the Mens D1 computer rankings put out weekly by the American Collegiate Hockey Association. OU (12-4) is currently number seven, while UT is 52nd.

“Toledo has a handful of players who are dominant at this level. They can create offense and they play with speed, regardless of their ranking, I think they will be a good team. They might not be as deep as us, but when they come to Athens, it is a championship game for them. They will give us their best, we need to be ready,” Mauron said.

Coming off split series against Pittsburgh and Marysville before the Thanksgiving break, the coach was pleased overall with how his team performed, though noted there are definitely some areas he has addressed with his players.

“We have shown some good things the past two weeks. In my mind, we deserved better than to split the weekends. We are still lacking consistency and we are still learning to deal with adversity. We have a young team; it is a process but we feel very confident about our play and the direction we are headed.

“It’s a good problem to have. We know we have players who can win the game for us. We have been missing a few pieces who will contribute to our secondary scoring. We also have moved our lines around last week, which I think really helped. Every line has a role, and it does not always show on the scoresheet, but when you play the right way, you get rewarded,” Mauron noted.

With an extended holiday break last week, the coach said there was a noticeable difference from his players at the two practices held already Monday and Tuesday.

“We had a lot of players sick and injured last week, I felt we needed a break very badly and Thanksgiving came at the right time this year. I can already tell the team is energized and excited to be back for the next couple weeks!” Mauron said.

To date this season, the Bobcats are led on the stat sheet by the freshmen tandem of forwards Luc Reeve and Laker Aldridge. Reeve’s 19 goals has him tied for first in the country in the Men’s D1 American Collegiate Hockey League (ACHA) scoring category.

To go along with his goals, Reeve has 19 assists for a total of 38 points, tied for second best in the nation in the ACHA points standings, while Aldridge has 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points.

The captain, defenseman Sam Turner, is number three in assists and points, with 16 and 18, respectively to go along with his two goals for the year. The top five are rounded out by forwards Aiden Grieco and Ryan Higgins.

Grieco has 8 goals and five assists, while Higgy has three goals and 10 assists so far for a total of 13 points apiece.

Mauron said that the final four games before the winter break (against UT and then Kent State) are crucial ones and he feels his team knows that in order to win at nationals in March they need to bring their A-game to every series they play.

“Our focus is always internal, and it doesn’t matter who we play against. We know what we need to do to perform, and we need to keep improving to have a chance to win it all.

“We want to find consistency in our play and put four good 60-minute games together. These games are important before the break, to get ourselves in a good spot before the last stretch. We want to keep getting better every day,” Mauron said.

Puck drop at Bird Arena is 7 p.m. both on Friday and Saturday.

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