Cody Black is one of the smaller, perhaps lesser-known players on a nationally-recognized Ohio team.

But the 5-foot-7 native of Wexford, Pennsylvania, accomplished something many athletes will never experience.

Black represented Team USA in the Ball Hockey World Championships in Pardubice, Czech Republic, last June.

The junior not only was on the team, but also made a substantial impact toward the team's 6-1 record and fifth-place finish. The forward registered two goals and two assists in seven games played.

"It was definitely nerve-wracking at first," Black said of the experience. "I jumped on the opportunity to go do that because you never know when that opportunity is going to happen. It was unbelievable up there. I really have no words for it."

Black, who tallied 22 points in 57 games played with Ohio, overcame any nerves almost immediately in Team USA's opening game against Portugal.

In his first shift of the game, Black slithered through Portugal's zone and fired a shot that deflected off a pair of Portuguese defenders before the ball landed back on his stick.

The next shot attempt from Black snuck under the goalie's pads for Team USA's first goal of the tournament.

Black's efforts to open the eventual 3-1 Team USA win earned him player of the game honors.

"I was definitely excited," Black said. "Not too many people get that opportunity and I was pretty happy to have that."

For Black, ball hockey was one of the first sports he ever played. His father built a dek hockey rink near their house eight years before he was born, which helped bring Black into the sport ever since he was able to walk.

Black's ball hockey talent continued to grow as he played in numerous tournaments and leagues throughout his career, and the connections he's made from playing have enabled him to stay active in the sport and jump onto teams — like Team USA.

Black wasn't able to attend tryouts for Team USA, but that didn't stop him from getting a call from Cory Herschk, the coach of Team USA and the coach of Black's former team, the Pittsburgh Gods.

"He was looking for another guy to fill a spot and he called me up and asked me if I wanted to play since I've been playing with him all my life," Black said. "He knows what I can do out there, and he wanted me on the team."

Black became accustomed to his new team in a camp in Toronto, which included scrimmages against Team Portugal and helped Black make another transition from the ice to the floor.

"It was a different kind of game because I've always played the local (teams)," Black said. "To be able to play at a world-level was definitely a lot faster and a lot more harder to compete."

For Black, the shift from one sport to another usually isn't too difficult, with conditioning being the main aspect of the changeover. A well-conditioned body was especially imperative for the tournament, which was played on Olympic-sized rinks — most hockey games are played in a rink with smaller dimensions.

"It's definitely a little harder because you can't glide," Black said. "You're always running so you got to be in good shape. It's a little bit more man-on-man rather than the zone coverage that ice hockey plays in, so you got to stay on one guy typically."

As Black gets back on the ice for his junior season with Ohio, he'll be hoping that his international success on the floor translates to another strong year with the Bobcats.


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