In his 50 games, Jimmy Thomas has quickly risen to perhaps the Bobcats’ most important player of the last two seasons.
After Ohio’s 12-0 shutout in Bird Arena on Saturday night, Thomas’ short but astounding legacy was etched into the Bobcats’ 60-year history.
The sophomore’s shutout on Saturday was his sixth of the season, which tied him with Brian Gallagher (2003-04) and Paul Marshall (2007-08) for the most shutouts from an Ohio goalie in a single-season. Thomas also leads the Central States Collegiate Hockey League and is second in the American Collegiate Hockey Association in shutouts this season.
Thomas has four more regular season games to break the organization’s shutout record.
“It feels pretty cool,” Thomas said. “Especially with an organization like this, as well-liked and as notable as they are, to be in the record books. It’s definitely a cool thing.”
Thomas knew that he was approaching Ohio’s shutout record, but he wasn’t aware of what the number was. The goalie admitted that it had crossed his mind during games, but he tried to prevent himself from thinking about it too much.
“A couple of people told me that I was getting close, but I wasn’t really sure exactly what it was,” he said. “Just try to break it every day.”
Thomas’ road to the milestone has been anything but easy — he has had the heaviest workload of any ACHA goalie in the nation.
Thomas leads the nation in wins as a goalie (23), total games (31) and minutes played (1,807).
Ohio’s season has been filled with plenty of adversity, but Thomas’ stellar season has arguably been the biggest reason why the Bobcats are still at the top of the competition for a national title.
“Oh my god, having a goaltender like Jimmy is such a relief to play with,” senior and team captain Jake Faiella said. “I played with some good goaltenders here in the last couple of years, but once Jimmy came in last year and took the starting spot, he’s never let go of it. He works hard every day. It’s great playing in front of him.”
The scores from Friday and Saturday suggest that Thomas had an easy weekend, but Thomas’ weekend was still full of highlight-reel saves that bailed out miscues from his teammates.
One of his biggest saves on Saturday occurred after defenseman Tom Pokorney lost his footing and fell to the ice on a defensive clearing attempt. The puck was immediately picked up by an Oakland forward who had a small breakaway, but a lunging save by Thomas preserved his shutout.
It looked similar to many other impressive bail-outs of Thomas’ 730 saves, which is tied for 10th in the ACHA, and it was part of a handful of other difficult saves out of 47 total against Oakland.
“I thought I played a great weekend,” Thomas said. “Our team played well, our (defense) played well. Kept (Oakland) to minimal shots, which is always nice. If they didn’t do what they did, I couldn’t do what I did. Everything goes to them.”