COLUMBUS, Ohio — With junior Tommy Goebel’s unassisted goal at 11:33 in the second and freshman Joseph Palmer’s 22 saves, the Buckeyes blanked the Lakers, 1-0, in the first CCHA action of 2006-07 for each team.
Both Ohio State head coach John Markell and Lake Superior State head coach Jim Roque said the contest was a good early season effort for their respective squads.
“I think we were nervous in the first period,” said Markell. “I thought there was kind of a feel-out period for them and for us. I thought we kind of took over in the second period, and in the third it was kind of a jousting match again and it could have gone either way.
“We got good goaltending tonight and I thought our penalty kill was the difference.”
The Buckeyes had seven penalties for 14 minutes, to the Lakers’ five for 10, including an early five-on-three OSU advantage that lasted for more than a minute. Laker goaltender senior Jeff Jakaitis, who stopped 43 of 44 shots, kept the game close.
“He played good,” said Roque. “He didn’t have to make any huge saves. He’s a big key to our game.”
Goebel managed to get past Jakaitis with teammate John Dingle in the box for interference. The Buckeye penalty kill forced a turnover, and Goebel took the puck in left wing with Dominic Maiani skating right.
“Took a bad bounce and kind of handicapped the D,” said Goebel. “I just poke-checked it and Dom Maiani made a great play of getting down there creating a two-on-one instead of just a one-on-one, and gave me a chance to make a move, and luckily it slipped in five-hole.”
The goal was the first as a Buckeye for Goebel, who transferred from Michigan State at the end of the 2004-05 season. Although he said he felt “a little rusty out there,” Goebel said, “It just feels good to play hockey again and score goals. Got the win, so it’s a good day.”
After losing 12 seniors to graduation last year, the Laker roster sported eight freshman for tonight’s game, an challenge that Roque said LSSU handled well.
“We played a team that has 15 seniors and juniors, and our guys competed very hard,” said Roque. “We had a chance to score early and just didn’t score.
“I thought the difference in the game was strength. I thought they were a little stronger on their sticks than our team was. I thought around their net and key times when we could shoot the puck, they had good sticks. They showed their veteran experience. They’re a good team.
“I liked how we competed tonight and played on the road in a tough place to play with two weeks of practice. I can’t say enough about our guys.”
Markell said that although the Buckeye squad is more experienced, the number of OSU players returning to the lineup after missing significant game time because of injury and illness last season made for an uncertain D-I debut for this Ohio state team.
“As the game went on, some of our key things that we had to get done in order to be successful I thought we did a better job at. Certainly, it was nice to see Tommy Goebel — you had Maiani and Goebel who hadn’t played a lot of hockey last year, and Corey Elkins coming off an ACL, so we had a number of guys — [Tyson] Strachan coming back who hadn’t played for so long, and a freshman in net — so we had our own uphill battle. We know that they had a few more freshmen than we did, but I thought in the end all the kids combined did a good job for a first game, and I’ll take the win.”
Palmer, an alumnus of the U.S. National Under-18 Team, made his own mark on OSU history in his very first outing, becoming the first rookie goaltender in Buckeye history to record a shutout in his first Division I game.
“He looked comfortable back there…and he battled another good goalie at the other end, one of the best guys in our league,” said Markell.
Said Palmer, “It was a good way to start off the year.”
The shutout was a dubious milestone for the Lakers, who were shut out twice last November in Value City Arena, losing 3-0 and 4-0. The last time LSSU scored a goal against the Buckeyes was at 10:45 in the second period of a 3-2 overtime loss at home, Feb. 5, 2005.
The teams meet again Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. in VCA. Roque said that rookie netminder Pat Inglis will get the start.
“I’m not going to burn Jeff out,” said Roque. “Our freshman goalie proved the last couple of weeks that he deserves a start.”
Roque said that the only thing the Lakers need to do Saturday is score more goals.
“I wouldn’t change anything. I’d just keep shooting. I think we have to find a way to get more pucks to the net.”