Throwing out his hands in disbelief, Will Lockwood simply couldn’t believe it.
In his eyes, his stick had simply lodged in between the Ohio State player’s legs, and he quickly dropped it to prevent any calls. Nothing intentional. No ill-intent.
But the whistle was blown anyways, and despite the junior forward’s pleas of it being a mishap, his emotions got the best of him when the referee refused to alter his call.
“What? What kind of call was that?” Lockwood shouted according to Michigan coach Mel Pearson.
The stoppage came right as a double-overtime period began in the Michigan-Ohio State matchup — a game that ended in a 4-3 double-overtime Wolverine loss. Right as the first overtime ended, freshman forward Dakota Raabe drew a penalty on Buckeye forward Mason Jobst, sending him to the box and giving Michigan a full two minutes on the man-advantage to start the sudden-death second overtime period.
However, right as the Wolverines fought for the puck during a faceoff at the opening of the period, the penalty was assessed on Lockwood, and the reaction ensued.
“I mean, Lockwood didn’t say anything,” Pearson said. “Usually you get a misconduct if you say something that’s going to embarrass the referee or swear at him or something like that.”
Lockwood, however, lost focus and allowed his emotions to get the best of him. It was a critical juncture in a rivalry game. The thought of ruining the man advantage prompted an unwarranted attempt to kick his stick that had dropped on the ice. He missed, of course, but the referee didn’t miss the sight of his tantrum. An additional whistle was blown, ejecting him from the game.
And just like that, Lockwood found himself in a spot all too familiar.
The junior had spent the majority of his sophomore year sidelined, though due to a shoulder injury back then. Instead of missing the games or sitting in the bleachers, he stayed close to the ice. After his ejection Saturday, Lockwood, instead of going to the locker room like two other ejected players had done that day, stood behind the glass paneling leading to the Wolverine tunnel like he had done much of last year.
It was the same back then as it is now. Unable to play, he stood behind the glass, a gesture his teammates appreciated. Instead of being on the ice, he stood. And he watched. And he waited for the result of his absence to unravel. Two minutes later, with a Jobst goal, it did.
“I was angry at the ref, but more angry at myself, I have to control my emotions a little bit better,” Lockwood said. “Overall, it was kind of a selfish act. … It was unfortunate what the outcome was, but I wasn’t going to miss the chance to see what the outcome was.”
Ohio State initiated the first push down ice after the call. Winning the faceoff, the Buckeyes shot toward the net but the puck deflected out of play. Lockwood watched helplessly, pointing to things happening on the ice while a student manager comforted him to the side.
“Being a former player, you don’t feel good,” Pearson said. “Especially if it’s a bad penalty. When you’re in the box and get scored on, it’s not a good feeling. That’s my personal two cents on it.”
After Ohio State started its second push, a two-on-one breakaway, Lockwood couldn’t help but pound on the glass after sophomore defenseman Quinn Hughes and freshman goaltender Strauss Mann stopped the odd-man rush.
And then, after a few more pushes up and down the ice, the clock began ticking. The Buckeyes’ penalty which kept the game even-strength was about to expire.
“I was watching the clock,” Lockwood said. “And I don’t think many guys really knew exactly what was happening and when you’re tied up in a game like that, it’s really tough to be aware of that.”
But he saw it coming. Jobst rushed out of the box and into a one-on-one with Mann after all three Michigan players were caught off-guard in the offensive zone. The Buckeyes’ leading scorer finished the job, hammering the puck into the net.
“It’s just kind of unfortunate when you’re three-on-three, and you don’t know whether the guy’s coming out in a whistle to come back to three-on-three or what the deal is,” Lockwood said. “So it’s kind of just an awkward situation, unfortunately. It’s bad timing for us.”
Lockwood remained in his spot, staring at the pile of Ohio State players building up on the ice as they rushed to celebrate the game-winner. Afterward, he apologized to the team for his mistake. It was on him, though no one seemed to press him about it.
“I owned up to it at the end,” Lockwood said, “and made sure everyone knew it wasn’t going to happen again.”