Jimmy Thomas stayed in his crease after the final horn sounded. Jake Houston got to him first.
Houston grinned as he wrapped Thomas up bear-hug style. Most of the Bobcats followed in line to do the same.
“It’s just a good feeling to have the boys come give you support after a win like that,” Thomas said after No. 7 Ohio’s 4-0 win Friday over Kent State at Bird Arena.
Thomas grabbed his first career start, win and shutout all in the same night. After the game, he couldn’t keep the smile off his face.
“Floating on cloud nine right now,” he said.
Ohio coach Sean Hogan posted the game lineup after Friday’s morning skate. Thomas saw his name and planned accordingly.
For him, that meant focusing on the game during the day, having a good pre-game meal and taking a nap. He said he had some nerves heading into his first start, but on the outside he looked loose and prepared.
In his gently used green and white gear, Thomas vacuumed pucks and limited second-chance opportunities on the way to an 11-save night.
Ohio (3-0) took several penalties — including a five-minute major and game misconduct from forward Brock Rumbaugh in the first — which gave Kent State opportunities to get on the board.
On the Golden Flashes’ first powerplay chance, a skater got free and moved in on Thomas, but flicked the puck well above the crossbar on Thomas’s glove side. The Bobcats finished 6-for-6 on the penalty kill.
Thomas got all the help he needed less than three minutes into the game. Mike Palasics’s low wrist shot trickled past the Kent State goalie into the crease and Joey Breslin stuffed it home. Ohio scored twice in the first period and Thomas admitted it helped him calm his nerves.
Jake Faiella put the game away in the dying seconds of the second with a screened powerplay goal from the point to give the Bobcats a three-goal lead.
With Ohio controlling puck possession for most of the third, the focus of the game shifted to preserving the shutout.
No save was as important as Thomas’s point-blank stop with about 15 minutes left. A careless turnover by the Bobcats gave a Golden Flash player a wide-open look eight feet from the net, but Thomas stuck out his blocker in time.
It was Ohio’s third shutout in as many games to start the season. Senior goalies Aaron Alkema and Ryan Heltion played perfectly last weekend against John Carroll. Last season, the Bobcats gave up just one goal in their first three games.
At this early point in the season, Hogan can’t miss when choosing a goalie. He’s known for a while what Alkema and Heltion are capable of. Now he knows what Thomas can do, too.
“I’m proud of him,” Hogan said. “He’s going to be a good goalie for us for a long time.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the final score of Friday's game. The Bobcats won 4-0. This article has been updated to show the most accurate information.