The Bobcats seemed to have a bad season on the surface. However, their 5-15 record doesn’t tell the full story. They played a difficult schedule and had many close games against some of the best teams in their division. In addition, they only lost a few players and have plenty of young talent ready to take their places.
With a more normal schedule and level of competition this year, Ohio will have a good chance to get back to its usual excellence. Prior to last year’s shortened season, Ohio had failed to win 70% of its games just three times in the previous 17 years. The program had not had a losing season since 1986-87.
The Bobcats had a young roster last season and only lost three key players afterward. They lost Kyle Craddick on the forward line but have plenty of players ready to fill the void, including Drew Magyar. Magyar was the team’s leading scorer last season, tallying 12 goals and five assists. In addition, junior forwards J.T. Schimizzi and Andrew Sacca are also strong players. They were awarded with All-Tournament Honorable Mentions during last year’s playoffs.
While Ohio should be comfortable in the forward line, it may have a bit more of an issue replacing the two defensemen who graduated, Timmy Thurnau and Shawn Baird. The Bobcats struggled on defense at times last season, and losing two of their top defenders won’t help with that.
However, there are three reasons that Ohio should be able to survive the loss of Thurnau and Baird. First, it is playing an easier schedule this year and the defense will not be under as much pressure. Second, the Bobcats have an excellent goaltending tandem in Max Karlenzig and Matt Server that should be able to keep things under control. Finally, Ohio has plenty of returning talent on defense, led by Sam Turner and Scott Bagby. They and others can step in for Thurnau and Baird right away.
Perhaps the biggest reason for optimism this year is the aforementioned goaltenders. A great goaltender can win games almost single-handedly. In Karlenzig and Server, the Bobcats have two excellent goaltenders, and if they can perform as well as they did last year, it will be a huge part of the team’s success.
Overall, despite a poor record last year, there are a host of reasons why Ohio should return to its usual excellent form. They have a young, talented roster and had a strong finish last season, so an improved season should be on the cards.