Updated Sat, Mar 8, 2014 7:24 pm
Again and again, Ohio would gain possession of the puck in Iowa State’s zone in a desperate attempt to tie the game, but nothing seemed to go right for the Bobcats. The Green and White appeared to hit multiple metaphorical walls as they watched their 2013-14 season come to an end.
Iowa State goalie Matt Cooper made 42 saves, defenseman Eero Helanto put on a checking clinic for the Cyclones, and the Bobcats couldn’t get their power play going as Ohio fell 3-1 to Iowa State at Fred Rust Ice Arena, eliminating them from the ACHA National Tournament.
With time ticking down in the third period, Ohio forward Tom Whetsel was set up perfectly on the doorstep to put the puck into Iowa State’s net. He took a split second to settle the puck, and fired it on goal, when the Cyclones’ netminder, Cooper, lunged across his crease to deny Whetsel.
After making contact with Cooper, the puck sailed over his net and into the corner, and Ohio had to chase the puck down again. Such was the story of the night for the ‘Cats.
Ohio jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Matt Hartman launched a backhanded shot through traffic and past Cooper.
In fact, Jonathon Sheridan’s Bobcats controlled most of the game’s pace in the first period, but after a late period goal by the Cyclones’ Chris Cucullu, the winds quickly swirled in their favor.
The rest of the way out, Cooper stood tall in goal and watched as his teammates mustered a power play goal and a shorthanded goal to earn a 3-1 lead.
Ohio’s attempts to gain the zone in their comeback struggle were often stifled by the work of Iowa State’s Finnish freshman defenseman, Helanto, who connected on a series of devastating hip checks throughout the course of the game.
Helanto, who is generously listed on the Cyclones’ website at only 5-foot-5 tall, managed to level the Bobcats’ Nathan De La Torre with just over four minutes to go in the game in one of the biggest checks the ACHA has seen all season. De La Torre did a full front flip after meeting Helanto’s hip, but was injured on the play with an apparent lower body injury.
Defenseman J.C. Gulch then took a game misconduct penalty protesting the lack of a penalty call, making Ohio lose two players for the remainder of the game. To make matters worse regarding Gulch’s misconduct, the Bobcats lost another defenseman from their blue line that was already playing without Duncan Green, who missed the game due to an illness.
The Cyclones’ Matt Bennett released a rocket of a slap shot from the point on the man advantage to give his team a one-goal lead in the second period.
Iowa State’s power play went one for four in the game, while Ohio squandered four opportunities of its own.
The shorthanded marker came courtesy of Jonathan Feavel, who used his speed to spring himself past Ohio’s defensemen and in on a breakaway. Feavel roofed a wrist shot over Ohio goalie Aaron Alkema’s glove hand to give his team the 3-1 lead that would become the final.
This was the sixth time Ohio and Iowa State met this season, and each club walked away with three wins in the season series. Ohio eliminated Iowa State in overtime during the CSCHL Tournament two weeks ago, but the Cyclones were able to exact their revenge at nationals.
The Bobcats eliminated Iowa State in last year’s national tournament, as well.
Iowa State advances to play No. 2 Oklahoma in the next round of the national tournament, while Ohio will make the long bus ride home to Athens from Newark, Del., and begin preparations for next year.