Ohio was in the thick of its toughest test of the season as it went into overtime Friday night.
With three players hurt and out of the lineup, the Bobcats needed to take back the momentum Stony Brook had stolen from Ohio in the third period.
The Bobcats held the lead two separate times in the final 20 regulation minutes to fuel the energy in both the team and Bird Arena, but Stony Brook snatched it back and tied the score at 4-4 in the final minutes of regulation.
With just 16 skaters, the fight for energy never ended for Ohio — until defenseman Jake Houston netted the game-winning goal and dropped to one knee at center ice to celebrate the Bobcats’ 5-4 victory.
It was Stony Brook’s first loss of the season.
“I just tried to find a soft area,” Houston said on the three-on-three overtime goal. “Gianni (Evangelisti) gave me a great pass, and I was able to find the back of the net.”
While his team was nearly out of energy, coach Sean Hogan was full of it as he greeted each of his players with a hard pat on the back as they let out a yell into the locker room — the shouting served as a rather large sigh of relief after the extended 60-minute effort.
“I’m proud of them,” Hogan said on his team’s resilience. “That was a tough win, especially since it was so back-and-forth in the third. I was like, ‘You've got to be kidding me?’ They did it, and we got it done.”
Ohio wouldn’t have had the overtime opportunity had it not been for its unheralded players filling the void from its injured teammates. With just 10 forwards and nine defensemen, it was Gabe Lampron and Tom Evans, who usually skate on the lower line-pairings, that served as the source of the Bobcats' power. Each recorded a goal on Friday.
With 1:54 to go in the second period and Ohio down 2-0, Evans found the puck at his feet at the blue line and shot the puck softly over in the net’s direction.
Evans’ shot was deflected by forward Drew Crandall as it went over his shoulder and into the net to finally put Ohio on the board.
“It was strange,” Evans said. “I just turned around and fired (the puck), and it snuck in. We had everyone in front of the net, and their goalie just lost it.”
Evans also tallied an assist on Ohio’s goal with just six seconds left in the second period. The goal gave the Bobcats all the confidence it needed as it headed into the final period of regulation and capped off a wild end to a second period that would foreshadow the insanity that followed.
“Everyone’s fired up and ready to go again,” Evans said on how the quick goal sequence affected the team. “You get a goal, get two goals to tie it up to close the second and everyone is real pumped after that.”
The confidence was crucial for Ohio, as top forward Tyler Harkins and defenseman Garrett Jenkins were scratched due to injuries. The Bobcats were hit with another blow in the first period when forward Matt Rudin skated gingerly off the ice nursing his shoulder. He did not return.
With the injuries, the Bobcats will likely look to play a similar scrappy game in order to complete the sweep on Saturday, but the craziness of Friday’s win should give Ohio (7-2-0) the boost it needs as it looks to finish off Stony Brook (6-0-1) on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Bird Arena.
“I can’t believe we pulled it off,” Hogan said. “That was just a really gutty, gutty win for our guys.”
Note: A previous version of this story said that Tom Evans scored his first goal of the season. The goal was later given to Drew Crandall. The story has been updated to show the most accurate information.