Putting the Power in Power Play

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Hockey has always been known as a rough sport. Thus, it is imperative that the players work well together and have each other's backs on the ice. The power play unit on Ohio University's hockey team uses its chemistry on the ice to dominate in college club hockey.

“Typically the power play consists of the best players on the team, the players that are most likely to score." said Nick Rostek, one of the members of the power play forward line. The forward line consists of three players working together to get the puck in the goal.

“I think that we’re definitely one of the lines that’s expected to score. Like you have lines that you rely on to score. But we’re not expected to get every goal in the game.” explained lineman Tyler Pilmore.

While they might not be expected to get every goal, that's exactly what they did last Saturday in the game against 4th ranked Oklahoma. It was largely thanks to Ohio’s leading scorer Michael Harris. Harris, who has three power play goals on the season, appreciates the title of leading scorer, but he stays realistic when it comes to his ability to slap pucks in the net.

“Its nice but when you shoot a lot that’s what happens. If you shoot five to ten shots a game you’re going to start scoring eventually,” said Harris.

It takes a lot of teamwork to get those goals. Harris addressed that when he described what he thought was the most important part of being in a line: “Just everyone working hard. You can’t have two guys working really hard and then one just relaxing, not doing much, hoping that the other guys get the puck to him.”

He went on to comment on how his line was living up to working as a cohesive unit.

“The more you practice together, you get a sense of where everyone is going to be. I think we’ve done pretty well with that thus far.”

Harris, Rostek, and Pilmore have learned to play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses in order to become a successful line. Rostek describes Pilmore's speed as a great strength, and Pilmore, in turn has a lot of faith in Harris's ability as a shot-maker.

But the linemen are just one part of the power play unit. Joining them on the ice is the defensive pairing made up of Tyler Benson and Mike Kretz. For Benson, being a part of the power play unit is a big deal.

“It’s a big honor, it’s a lot of fun being that it’s my first year here at OU,” said the newcomer. “Our coach realized that we could move the puck and we played well with the first line. He just took a chance, I think, and experimented with us and it seems to be paying off so far.”

Of course the "we" he was referring to was him and his partner Kretz, who drifted on and off the power play unit as a freshman. When asked to elaborate on their strengths and weaknesses as a pairing, Kretz said “I think my personal strengths are that I don’t try and do anything too out of my abilities. I just like to play smart and I think Tyler is the same way but he’s also a lot more skilled than I am. So even if I do mess up, I feel like he backs me up all the time.”

Benson has no problem backing up his partner, as he often has to put on a tough guy persona on the ice.

"I do play with a bit of an attitude,” he said. “I’m a 6’2” defenseman so I have to stand my ground on the ice, so when someone is coming to the front of the net its my job to get in their way.

“But I welcome it with open arms.”

In the end, good chemistry is what has made the power play unit so successful. The passion for the game is evident every time the players step on the ice. Perhaps Benson summed it up in the best, most simple way:

"I love hockey.”