The 2007-08 season has been a disappointment for the Ohio State hockey team and its seniors, but senior night will go down in the books as a classic. Senior Tommy Goebel scored with less than one second remaining to give the Buckeyes a 3-2 win over Northern Michigan in front of 8,099 fans who couldn't have asked for a better ending in Value City Arena.
"It felt good," Goebel said of his team-leading 19th goal. "It felt really good."
Goebel has been Ohio State's best player and most consistent offensive threat throughout the year, and his finish was a goal he'll remember forever. Northern Michigan (13-16-3, 10-12-2 CCHA) had to think overtime was in the cards, and defenseman Alan Dorich rang the puck around the boards from behind his net with less than five seconds left.
Freshman John Albert controlled the puck along the left wing boards between the blue line and hashmarks and threw the puck on net. Goebel was darting out from behind the net and deflected the puck by Brian Stewart right before it reached the NMU netminder.
The clock hit zero an instant later and for a moment the Buckeyes seemed confused as to whether or not the goal would count before streaming off the bench and celebrating with Goebel.
A lengthy review followed, with referee Matt Shegos checking the clock on a video review monitor. The band continued to play for about five minutes until Shegos emerged form the box and pointed at center ice to signify the goal. The official time of the score was 19:59, but Goebel said Shegos told him that the puck went into the net with one-10th of a second left.
"John made a great pass," Goebel said. "I just went to the net and tipped it in. I had no clue how much time was left on the clock. I didn't even know that was even an issue to tell you the truth."
When Shegos pointed at center ice, senior defenseman Johann Kroll started a dogpile with Goebel and half the squad, while the rest mobbed OSU goaltender Joseph Palmer, who made 14 saves.
After the game, seniors Kroll, Goebel, captain Matt McIlvane, Tom Fritsche, Jason DeSantis, Kyle Hood, John Dingle and Phil Lauderdale were honored.
"I'm glad the seniors feel that way and the families have smiles on their faces," head coach John Markell said. "That's what it's all about."
Goebel's heroics were set up by freshman Peter Boyd, who worked his way to two more goals, though none were of the game-winning variety like four of his seven tallies coming into the season. With Ohio State trailing 2-1, Boyd tied the score with 3:52 left when he waltzed into the right circle with the Buckeyes on the power play and snuck a shot through the legs of Stewart.
He had started the scoring with 22.5 seconds to go in the first period. The New Brunswick native fought through Dorich for a loose puck in the left circle, wrapped around the net and banked the puck off of Stewart's glove and into the yawning net.
"It was the Peter Boyd show tonight," Goebel said.
Stewart came into the game riding two straight shutouts, and OSU peppered him with 32 shots on goal compared to the 16 that went toward Palmer. The win snapped an 0-2-1 streak for the Buckeyes (10-21-3, 5-16-2) and ended a 3-0-2 run for NMU that came against Big Ten schools OSU, Michigan and Michigan State.
"We got a bounce and it couldn't have come at a better time," Markell said.
Lauderdale, a senior who came to OSU's varsity from its club team and who hadn't played a minute in his career, got the start for the Buckeyes, going 49 seconds without facing a shot on net before being subbed for Palmer to applause.
It was Palmer who gave up both Wildcat goals in the second period. Shegos didn't see Northern's first goal, but it was clearly a tally. Jared Brown won the puck in the corner, Erik Spady shot after darting into the play from the bench, and Gregor Hanson lifted the rebound over Palmer at 12:01. The light went on but Shegos didn't see the goal, but video review didn't take long to confirm Hanson's sixth tally of the year.
Mark Olver's goal tiebreaking goal at 16:06 was his second goal of the weekend and third point. With Northern Michigan on the power play, Olver took a pass from Nick Sirota at the top of the right circle and blasted a puck along the ice and past Palmer to the short side. The goal was Olver's 12th of the year.
For the next 20:02, it looked like Olver would have the game winner until Boyd set up Goebel's goal that people won't soon forget.
"We didn't quit on it," Markell said.