Tyler Harkins didn’t know how many seconds were left in the game.
All he knew was that the puck was on his stick in a scoreless game, and he was in a spot where a goal was nearly impossible.
Harkins received the puck behind Lindenwood’s goal line after a shot from Matt Rudin went wide and off the boards. Harkins desperately shot the puck off Lindenwood goalie Michael Hails’ back as he covered the post, and the buzzer sounded as the puck slid into the back of the net.
As the rest of the Bobcats hurdled over their bench and chased Harkins down the ice in celebration, Lindenwood sat frozen in place. Each team was no more stunned than the other.
“It was unbelievable,” Harkins said. “We battled hard the whole game and the emotions were in it. I had a few chances throughout the game, everyone’s having chances. When something like that happens, your emotions take over. It’s an unbelievable feeling unlike anything else.”
Each Bobcat let out a combination of a scream, fist-bump or wide grin as they exited the ice. Harkins, however, was out of breath.
Maybe it was because he raced down the entire length of the ice after scoring the most improbable of goals, or maybe it was because he created the moment that each team bludgeoned each other for the 59 minutes and 59 seconds prior.
As Harkins battled to find his breath, coach Sean Hogan battled to ease his excitement as he gave the forward three hard pats outside the locker room in celebration of his night.
“I just told the guys I’ve never seen anything like that,” Hogan said.
Hogan expected a tight game with No. 3 Lindenwood, who matched similar styles of play as No. 8 Ohio. The shots, which finished at 23-22 in favor of Lindenwood, were identical, and each goalie dazzled with big saves that preserved the scoreless tie.
But in the final moments, it was perhaps the game’s rarest of goals, both in time and position, that determined the winner and encapsulated an “emotionally charged” result.
“I was probably the most emotional one,” Hogan said. “I get fired up for that one. Our guys were fired up … That’s a huge win for us.”
Harkins’ goal was surprising in every way, but he had no plan when the fate of overtime fell on his stick. Even though he was behind the net, he still trusted the most basic of hockey instincts.
“When you throw the puck to the net, good things happen,” Harkins said.