The Bobcats (2-12) lost their first two games of the season against the Lions (12-1) and were outscored 10-5 in that series.
Heading into Friday’s game, Lindenwood was the top ranked team in ACHA Division I. It had just outscored its previous three opponents 8-2.
Though the Lions put up 37 shots on net, they were shut out by Ohio’s defense, led by goalie Max Karlenzig.
“Lindenwood’s a really good team. They’re ranked No. 1 in the nation — and for very good reason — and very skilled,” coach Cole Bell said. “I think it all starts with Max. That was a hell of a performance by him. And the defense in front of him, just really, really solid, really strong, staying on their side, winning their battles, being tough to play against, and that’s what we’ve been talking about all along, and we finally saw it come through tonight.”
There were several occasions where Lindenwood came very close to scoring and either taking the lead or tying the game. Karlenzig managed to stand his ground with a big leg save to keep Ohio from falling behind with around six minutes left in the second period as well as late in the third period to preserve what was a 1-0 lead at the time.
“Say an odd man break is coming down, or a breakaway. It’s kind of the same thing as how I play the rest of the game, like, ‘I need to stop this puck. ‘I’m going to stop this puck,’” Karlenzig said. “I just gotta make sure that I’m playing my position well, keeping my chest square to the puck and just read the shooter as best as I can.”
Friday night was Karlenzig’s first shutout of his college career.
The game was a very jittery one, remaining a scoreless tie until defenseman Ryan Hastings scored on a wrist shot from the point with about seven minutes remaining to take the lead. Karlenzig said he felt confident the whole game, despite how close it was for a while.
“I started off the game just making a streak of some saves. I was just feeling hot out there so, while I’m just sitting around, I’m just waiting for the puck to come back down,” Karlenzig said. “I’m just sitting there with confidence. Like I have to stop this. I have to stop this. We’ve had tough games for the past couple months here, and the boys really needed a win, so I needed to give it my all tonight, especially with senior night tomorrow.”
Karlenzig gave a great deal of credit to his team’s defense for contributing to the shutout.
“They did great today,” Karlenzig said. “They were keeping the shots to angles where it’s low percentage scoring chances. They were keeping traffic out of the front. I could see the puck the whole time, so they really helped me out tonight.”
But in a sport where nobody does everything perfect, it’s important to have a goalie who can get the job done. That was how Bell expressed his satisfaction with Karlenzig’s performance Friday night.
“You gotta have a good goalie to win, right?” Bell said. “If you’re gonna win in close games, your goalie’s gonna have to make some saves. Nobody, no team plays a perfect game. We’re gonna have breakdowns, and that’s why we recruited Max. That’s why we want him here, and he certainly stepped up today.”