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Ohio’s previous season may have ended in perhaps the toughest way possible: a 3-0 defeat in the national championship game against Central Oklahoma.
But the feeling of falling just short should fuel Ohio's young and talented core toward making another deep run this upcoming season.
With depth on their side, the Bobcats have every reason to believe they'll be right back in the championship game come next spring.
Blake Nissen | FILE
Sophomore Austin Heakins celebrates with his teammates after a goal scored against John Carroll in their September 24th, 2016 game.
Ohio lost 10 seniors from its previous squad, three of which finished top-five in scoring last season, but coach Sean Hogan and the rest of the team are viewing that statistic from a different angle.
Expand that number, and the Bobcats actually lost just three of their top-10 leading scorers, with four of the returning seven players entering their sophomore year and stepping into bigger roles on the team.
"I think guys like Gianni Evangelisti, who played a lot of last year on the third line, will see a lot more shifts and more games on our top line," Hogan said. "We're looking for Jacob Houston to be great on our back end as well."
In Evangelisti and Houston, who enter their sophomore years, Ohio already has two players capable of producing points from both forward and defense. Evangelisti finished third among forwards with 32 points and led the team with a plus-22 plus/minus rating, while Houston led the defense with 28 points in addition to finishing plus-11.
The Bobcats will also have sophomores Austin Heakins and Tyler Harkins, who finished last season with 27 and 24 points, respectively. Heakins also finished second on the team with 22 assists.
Ohio also has young talent in net, as sophomore Jimmy Thomas will likely see the majority of the Bobcats' games — a task he's already completed. In his freshman season, Thomas led all Ohio goalies with 19 games played and went 13-4-1 and tallied three shutouts with a 2.38 goals-against average.
Last year's crop of new players gave Ohio the boost it needed to reach its first national championship game appearance since 2004.
This season, the Bobcats are hoping the newcomers will provide the missing ingredient needed to finish that final game with a win.
"We had a great freshman class last year," Hogan said. "We're excited about this group that we're bringing in. The difference this year is that there are a lot more transfers."
Ohio has currently added seven players to its 2017-18 squad, with three coming as NCAA transfers. Defenseman Nick Grose comes from Utica College, forward Garrett Elmore transfers from Gustavus Adolphus and forward Timmy Thurnau comes from Elmira.
"We're bringing in some guys that have college experience under their belt, so that helps a bunch," Hogan said.
One aspect Hogan wanted this year's team to improve upon is net-front goals, which he believes will come with more "grit" and a heightened physical presence — a characteristic that several new players, like forward/defenseman Shawn Baird, forward Zach Frank and Elmore, have voiced as a key part of their games.
If the new recruits meet the expectations, Ohio could have even more of a complete team than that of last season.
- Ohio will unveil new home jerseys in August that will honor its upcoming 60th anniversary season. Additionally, the Bobcats will also have on-ice logos at Bird Arena to commemorate the milestone. Information about the 60th anniversary logo, which was unveiled in June, can be found here.
- The Bobcats enter 2017-18 looking to capture their 16th straight season with at least 25 wins.Back