Back on the ice


Expectations high after disappointing end a year ago

Matt Parker / For The Post

Sean Hogan sat in his office at Bird Arena, scratched the back of his head and gazed at his computer screen. The fifth-year coach looked at the Microsoft Excel sheet that had a list of returning players and his excitement about the coming season grew.

“We’re hoping that our freshmen and sophomores are going to take that next step in maturity in their game as (upcoming) juniors and seniors,” Hogan said. “It usually takes a couple of years for that to happen, and we have a very large (2020) class.”

Ohio’s top two point scorers from a year ago return as a part of that upcoming junior class. Gianni Evangelisti, a center, and Tyler Harkins, a winger, had 47 and 41 points in their sophomore campaigns.

As the upcoming juniors look to turn over the next leaf in their careers, they aren’t the only ones reaching for new heights.

Hogan has taken the program from missing the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Tournament to a national runner-up and quarterfinal finish in the last two years.

A perfect mold of experience and talent has been brewed for Ohio.

Youth no more

The Bobcats return a seasoned and experienced team. With the departure of only three graduated seniors, they will look to get past just making appearances in certain spots of the national tournament.

Of the 19 returning players, the class of 2020 account for eight of them. In their young careers, they’ve had a full ACHA experience with back-to-back playoff appearances, capped by a national runner-up finish in their freshman year.

But they are ready to take the next step that’s after making appearances. They’re ready to win.

“I think everyone on the team knows what we are capable of,” Evangelisti said. “I think the guys are excited for the next season, and we expect to be a top team in the country.”

After a sour loss in the ACHA quarterfinal game a year ago to rival Illinois, the Bobcats finished as the No. 5 team and with a 27-9-3 record.

A top-5 finish would satisfy a vast majority of programs, but with four national championship banners in the rafters of Bird Arena, only No. 1 is good enough to satisfy Ohio.

As bitter of a finish as it was, the Bobcats took only a few weeks off before offseason workouts at Peden Stadium began. An indicator that they were ready to get back to work.

“The mindset of the team is that we have to work harder than ever (before),” upcoming senior winger Gabe Lampron said. “We have been too good the past few years and have come up (too) short.”


Emilee Chinn | FOR THE POST

Ohio sophomore Gabe Lampron (#23) celebrates after Ohio scores a goal during Ohio's game against UNLV in the 2018 ACHA National Tournament on March 9. The Bobcats defeated the Rebels 3-2 and will advance to the next round of the tournament on Sunday.

Lampron, who went from a bottom tier liner to a clutch second and third liner, saw his growth occur rapidly.

Heading into his senior year with one more chance at a national championship, Lampron knows he must continue the growth he had from a year ago.

“The main thing I can do is come into the year in good shape,” he said. “If I train hard this summer and come into the year in great shape, (then) I’ll have a solid start which is what I want.”

Key Players

The good thing about Ohio’s small graduated class is that it knows who it can rely on. Aside from Evangelisti, the Bobcats bring back perhaps the ACHA’s best goaltender in junior Jimmy Thomas.

Thomas returns after posting a 25-9-2 record for the Bobcats, as well as a .920 save percentage, 2.19 goals against average and six shutouts. He also led the nation in minutes in net.

Not wanting to be burdened with the starlight, Thomas’s team-first focus is more important than ever as his leadership role grows.

“We have to put (last season) in the rearview mirror,” he said. “(We need to) use it as motivation for next year, especially after losing to a CSCHL team. That always hurts the worst.”

Other key returners for the Bobcats include: seniors Grant Hazel, Cody Black, Matt Rudin and Tom Pokorney; juniors Jake Houston, Nick Grose and Garrett Elmore; sophomores Kyle Craddick, Shawn Baird and Zach Frank.


With an overwhelming majority of last season’s team returning and Hogan’s system rooted in the program, Ohio has a chance to be back in the mix as one of the top tier programs in the country.

Development by: Megan Knapp / Digital Production Editor

Landing Page

Special Projects

This story is part of a series of specially designed stories that represents some of the best journalism The Post has to offer. Check out the rest of the special projects here.