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Ohio goalie Jimmy Thomas (30) poses for a portrait on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, at Bird Arena in Athens, Ohio.

Hockey: After setting the career shutout record, Jimmy Thomas is keeping his eye on the rest of the year

Jimmy Thomas is rewriting Ohio’s record books, but that hasn’t changed how he sees his final season.

In game two of their first series against Robert Morris-Illinois, the Bobcats shutout the Eagles 3-0 and Thomas notched his 17th career shutout – a new record to add to his list. Thomas had previously broken the single-season shutout record in the 2017-18 season and matched it in 2018-19.

Paul Marshall set the record for most career shutouts back in 2009, but now it belongs to Thomas. While he’s had nearly two weeks to rest and revel in his achievement due to a schedule bye week, Thomas is ready to get back to work and build on his record.

“I still recognize it, but I’m over the high. I’m more focused on the weeks ahead,“ Thomas said. “Iowa State knocked us out of nationals last season so that’s something still in the back of our minds.”

Breaking the record against a league rival like Robert Morris made the victory sweeter for Thomas. From his experience, CSCHL games come down to within one or two goals. For Ohio to shut down Robert Morris gives Thomas a confidence boost to both himself and the team around him.

“A shutout is a team thing, anytime we can pose a shutout we play really well,“ he said. “We’ve got a solid defensive core this year, so I’m pretty excited to see what we can do the rest of this season.”

Even though Thomas and the rest of the Bobcats knew the record was close to being beaten, they refused to speak about it to avoid jinxing it. Coach Cole Bell was rarely told of the record to keep it on the down-low. 

“The word ‘shutout’ is taboo and you’re not supposed to say it during games,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t something we talked about. If it happened it happened, and I got lucky enough.”

Thomas isn’t focused on his stats, he keeps himself focused on the game he’s in. His highest priorities are preparing for the brunt of Ohio’s schedule. League rivals Iowa State and Lindenwood, alongside top-ranked Michigan-Dearborn, comprise three of Ohio’s next four series, and will likely be their toughest stretch of the season.

The imposing schedule for the next month hasn’t shaken Thomas though. He has faith in both his teammates and himself. He said that he can’t perform as well as he does if his team isn’t playing as well as they do. Starting for Ohio throughout most of his career has given him the confidence he exudes on the ice.

“It’s nice to play every game but that comes when you earn it,” he said. “The confidence I get from my team means the world to me. I’m just excited that I’ve been given the opportunity to play so many games.”

With the end of his hockey career at Ohio inching closer, Thomas will be leaving his position up for grabs. The two working to fill his spot — juniors Jackson Chilberg and Mason Koster — have spent the extra hours necessary to fill the skates of their predecessor.

“Every year I’ve seen them get better and better,“ Thomas said. “They’re both incredible goalies and I’m excited to see what they can bring to the table this year and next year.”

For now, Thomas is focused on the time he has left. And it starts with Iowa State this weekend.

@thejackgleckler

jg011517@ohio.edu

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