DOMINIC HOSCHER | Reporter
In their final series of the first half, the undefeated Lindenwood Lions traveled out to Ohio to take on the Bobcats in their biggest test of the season yet.
Despite the tough challenge, it was business as usual for the Lions. Lindenwood topped the Bobcats in a thrilling overtime contest on Friday night, and put together yet another statement victory the next day to end the first part of the campaign on a high note.
Friday’s duel between the two resulted in Lindenwood’s tightest game of the year so far. Things got off to a shaky start for the visitors, as freshman Hayden Ursulak received a five minute major for boarding. Ohio took advantage, scoring two on the power play to send the Lions down 2-0, their largest deficit of the season.
Facing more adversity than they have had to go up against all year up to the series opener in Ohio, Lindenwood needed their star players to step up if they wanted to keep their perfect season alive. Zach Mitchell was able to do just that. With just about two minutes left in the first, Mitchell netted his team-leading 17th goal to give the Lions momentum at the end of the period.
Lindenwood would carry this momentum right into the second period with two early goals. First it was Brendan Murphy, who knotted the game at 2-2 just minutes into the period. Fellow defenseman Aapo Nurminen followed up Murphy’s effort with a goal of his own, giving Lindenwood their first lead of the evening at 3-2.
Ohio fought back later in the period, equalizing the game at 3-3. This score would remain the same through the remainder of the second, and through the third as well. For the first time this season, Lindenwood was heading to overtime.
In overtime, it was the captain Jake Townsend that saved the day for Lindenwood, scoring the game winner to give his team their 15th win of the season. Cooper Seedott made 20 saves in goal.
After a special win on Friday night, Lindenwood let the country know why they’re the nation’s best with a promising showing on Saturday. Nurminen, for the second time in the series, scored for Lindenwood with a blistering one-timer to put the Lions ahead at 1-0.
Later in the period, Lindenwood’s explosive power play struck gold once more, as freshman winger Ryan Finnegan scoped out Mitchell who made no mistake in front of goal to give the visitors a 2-0 lead. The Bobcats stayed right there with the Lions throughout the period, trailing in terms of shots just 8-6 after one.
The two teams would tighten up defensively in the second, as the score remained unchanged over the next 20 minutes. In the third period, it was the story of the powerplay again for the Lions. A unit that has been effective all year continued to look stellar in the final period of the first half, as Murphy got on the board for the second time in the two-game set off of a Jordan Klimovsky assist.
Murphy’s goal would be the last one of the game, as Lindenwood shut down Ohio by a final score of 3-0. Seedott collected his fifth shutout of the year in the win.
After their eighth sweep of the season, the Lions end the first half of their season with a perfect 16-0 record, which has earned them the top ranking in the entire country.
Now, the nation’s top squad will have plenty of time to rest up for the stretch run of their season, not playing again until 2019. Lindenwood’s second half gets started on Jan. 11 and 12, when they match up with the Ohio Bobcats once more, this time in Wentzville.