Garrett Jenkins emerged from the locker room with his jersey half-on.
The forward had his name called by the public address announcer for recognition as the first star of the game, only Jenkins didn’t realize he had won the honor. He sprinted out of the locker room with his shoulder pads removed and jersey back on several seconds after the announcement.
“What do I do?” Jenkins said with a smile as he ran to the ice. It’s been quite some time since he had a night like that.
Jenkins snapped a 25-game point drought with a goal in the second period in Ohio’s 6-1 win over Oakland on Friday night. He had yet to record a point in the 2017-18 season until scoring the Bobcats’ third goal of the game.
“(It feels) good,” Jenkins said. “Guys are excited, I’m excited. Getting the first one off my back, it was fun.”
Jenkins didn’t have to do much to snap the streak. A shot from defenseman Jake Faiella was deflected by forward Gabe Lampron in front of the net. Oakland’s goalie, Ian Dvorak, was unprepared for the deflection, which landed on Jenkins stick. The sophomore slid the puck into the net and, with a wide grin, gave a booming fist-pump as a relieving celebration.
The arena roared upon his goal announcement, which came as Jenkins received several pats on the head and a fist-bump from coach Sean Hogan as Jenkins returned to the bench.
“That was great,” Hogan said. “That was important. He did a good job of going to the net.”
Jenkins had a difficult road to his first point. He spent the first half of the season as a defenseman after playing his freshman year as a forward and recorded seven points in 22 games. Jenkins was shifted back to forward in January because defenseman Tom Pokorney, who was academically ineligible the first semester, rejoined the team. Jenkins, the seventh defenseman, was the odd man out.
Jenkins has also been injured two separate times this season with a fractured ankle and a concussion.
“Just a rollercoaster, you could call it,” Jenkins said. “I’ve been more supportive of my team this year and taking a different role, but it’s exciting.”
Several of Jenkins’ teammates were aware of his drought, but no one was perhaps more vocal about it than Tyler Harkins. The forward, who is second on the team with 37 points, has sent motivational texts to Jenkins every morning.
The messages served as both a joke and a way to “get my wheels going,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins still expects to receive the texts after snapping the streak.
“It’s kind of our little thing,” Jenkins said. “I like getting those from him every morning. It’s a good way to wake up. It just kind of sets the stage, gets the mind right.”
Jenkins, who said that his biggest asset is his offensive skill, will likely remain a forward for the rest of the season. Hogan is hoping that he'll continue to improve in his second positional transition of the season.
"(Jenkins has played) pretty good," Hogan said. "He's got another level we're trying to get him to, though. We're not looking for him to score a ton of goals. We just want him to play strong defensively and not turn the puck over."