COLUMBUS — Gabe Lampron emerged shirtless from Ohio’s locker room with a big smile.
Lampron, still dressed in pads from the waist down, had just ended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ season with a no-look goal that gave the Bobcats a 3-2 overtime win in the round of 16 of the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s national tournament Friday at the OhioHealth Ice Haus.
The forward saved the Bobcats from a potentially devastating upset from the Rebels — UNLV nearly delivered perhaps the biggest shock of the tournament, but Lampron clawed Ohio out of a one-and-done appearance with his no-look goal with just under 13 minutes remaining in the overtime period.
As Lampron dropped to one knee and slid one hand across center ice to meet with Ohio goalie Jimmy Thomas, the rest of the Bobcats poured over the bench and mobbed the duo’s hug as the crowd, composed mostly of Ohio fans, erupted behind them.
"I just turned around and fired it,” Lampron, whose smile appeared even bigger with Copenhagen wintergreen chewing tobacco in his lip, said. “They tried to come celebrate with me, but I had to go to Jimbo because he played a hell of a game, and I had to get a nice celly in for the fans.”
Lampron was Ohio’s hero two times Friday — the forward gave the Bobcats a 2-1 lead five minutes after the Rebels tied the game just three minutes into the third period.
But it didn’t take long for UNLV to spoil Lampron’s first big moment of the afternoon. The Rebels evened the game just two minutes later, and the possibility of an early national tournament exit stared the Bobcats in the face.
As several of Ohio’s forwards began to feel the fatigue of playing beyond the game’s regulation time, Lampron’s refreshed line was ready to feast on any opportunity it could snag in overtime. Lampron, as well as Zach Frank and Garrett Jenkins, received only two shifts in the second period, and the line buried at the bottom of the Bobcats’ forwards used the energy it had left to bury UNLV.
“We had fresh legs,” Lampron said. “I felt like we were just playing good, and I felt like things were going to happen if we kept playing our hardest.”
The goal epitomized the breakout year that Lampron, who notched a career-high 22 points before Friday, earned in his junior season. Lampron said it’s now his biggest moment as a player.
“Not trying to toot my own horn," he said, "but ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always had overtime goals throughout high school and juniors, but this one felt pretty good. I won’t lie.”
- UNLV forward Kamaron Fink was injured after a collision with the goalpost and left the rink via ambulance in the second period. He is doing OK, according to the team.
- Ohio will play the winner of No. 5 Illinois and No. 13 Jamestown’s game on Saturday in the quarterfinals. The quarterfinal game will be played at the Ice Haus on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.