Ohio State sophomore goalie Tommy Nappier (37) prepares for a shot in the game against Bowling Green on Oct. 26. Ohio State lost 8-2. Credit: Nick Hudak | For The Lantern

Ohio State sophomore Tommy Nappier has moved from an impressive backup to one of the strongest performing goalies in college hockey in just one season.

Born in St. Louis, he traveled the Midwest playing hockey his entire life prior to joining the No. 2 Ohio State men’s hockey team. Since joining in 2017, he has been a critical player on the team and a primary component of its success.

Nappier is currently tied for No. 1 with a .800 winning percentage and is second best in the country with a .946 save percentage.

Alongside fellow redshirt senior goalie Sean Romeo, he provides a safety net for the Ohio State defense.

“He’s awesome,” Romeo said. “I enjoy going to the rink every day and seeing him. Obviously, we’re competing with each other but there’s nothing bad. When he’s in, I’m cheering for him.”

Since arriving at Ohio State, Nappier has been named as Big Ten Star of the Week four times and has had five shutouts in his career, with four coming this season.

Nappier said it took a great amount of time and work to get to this level.

“I started skating around 4 or 5,” Nappier said. “My dad grew up playing hockey on the streets and really liked it. He just thought he should try me with it and I fell in love with it right away.”

Prior to Ohio State, Nappier had the opportunity to play on multiple teams across the country to hone his goaltending skills. Playing first in St. Louis for the AAA Blues, he later went to Springfield, Illinois, to play with the Junior Blues and eventually ended up playing for the USHL Chicago Steel and Omaha Lancers.

Nappier said this Ohio State team is not all that different from the others he has been on throughout his career.

“This team is a special team,” Nappier said. “But it’s just another hockey team trying to become a close group.”

Since Nappier has become one of the primary starters for Ohio State, his teammates have gotten behind him.

“He’s having a year,” senior defenseman Tommy Parran said. “He’s very consistent. Breakdowns happen, everybody makes mistakes, but it’s comforting to have someone like him.”

Head coach Steve Rohlik said Nappier’s relaxed persona helps him perform as a goalie.

“He’s just calm,” Rohlik said. “He’s confident, he’s calm. He minimizes his movements and he stays big. That’s how he plays.”

Since playing for Ohio State, the NHL has been looking like a feasible possibility for Nappier, but for the time being, performing his best with his team is what he is fully focused on.

With the way Ohio State has been performing lately, being on a seven-game winning streak, winning the national championship certainly looks like a reasonable goal.