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Ohio University went against the Pittsburgh Panthers in Bird Arena at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio,  on February 3, 2017. The bobcats won 9-0.
Ohio University went against the Pittsburgh Panthers in Bird Arena at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, on February 3, 2017. The bobcats won 9-0.

Ohio Hockey Seniors Take Ice for Last Time

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For the final time as a member of the Ohio Bobcats, ten seniors will lace up their skates and take to the ice at Bird Arena. A lot is on the line this weekend when the No. 3 ranked Bobcats faceoff against conference rival Iowa State in what will be a high intensity series.

At the beginning of the season the team set out their list of goals they wanted to accomplish this season. With one victory this weekend one of those goals will be achieved, winning the Central States Collegiate Hockey League (CSCHL) regular season championship.

“Our goals outside of wanting to be the most cohesive team in the nation and get better every day is that you want to win everything you can win,” head coach Sean Hogan said. “So the first step is getting the CSCHL regular season championship and we have played well enough all season long to put us in a position where we can do that this weekend.”

While the team saw four players return to the lineup last weekend who had been away at the Winter World University Games, the team will for sure be without two players, freshmen Tom Evans and Gianni Evangelisti, this weekend who are dealing with knee injuries. It will make clinching the CSCHL regular season crowd even more difficult.

“We are the deepest team I have seen all year,” senior captain Matt Hartman said. “If we have a guy go down we have one or two players behind him and fill that position and fill the role and our team doesn’t seem to skip a beat.”

One area in particular where the seniors have excelled this year is in their leadership on and off the ice. “I think the seniors set the pace for us every day,” freshman forward Austin Heakins said. “They give us the right mindset and reminded us how important it is every day to be apart of this organization.”

Heakins, who is one of nine freshman on the team this year, has benefited personally from the help of the senior class this season.

“The seniors really helped me settle in and took the time to answer any questions I had and always had an answer for me,” Heakins said.

Even though this weekend’s game is largely about clinching the CSCHL regular season title, Hogan stated the importance of taking the time to honor the ten seniors because they have been a big reason why the team has been successful since Hogan took over three years ago.

“When I got here, this senior class was a large group and right away they bought in to what we were doing,” Hogan said. “Some have been the top of the scorers like Joey (Breslin), (Patrick) Spellacy and Liam (Geither) and overall this group is really important to what we do as a team.”

One thing in particular that has eluded the senior class during their time here is a national championship and for the other members of the team that have seen those ten seniors put in so much work every day, they want to do all they can to help the seniors achieve their goal of winning an ACHA national championship.

“We have seen the work (the seniors) have put in over the last four years, so getting them one last victory at the end of the year is really important for all of us,” Heakins said.

This senior class has formed a tight bond not only on the ice but also off the ice over their time here at Ohio University, and many of those friendships started from day one they were all on campus.

“Those guys become your brothers,” Hartman said. “We all came in day one knowing minimal people and we all met each other on the first day of school and spent almost every day together the last four years and those guys have become family.”

In terms of emotions heading into his final weekend at Bird Arena, Hartman still cannot believe he is about to play his final two games in a place where he has spent so much time in over the last four years.

“It is weird to think that it’s all going to be over here after this weekend, Hartman said. “But (my time here) has been awesome, it’s been a great run and right now I am just looking back on a lot of good memories I have had over the years.”

Puck drop against Iowa State is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with a ceremony honoring the seniors before the game on Saturday.