HED- Hockey: Bobcats’ Harris continues consistent scoring thanks to team’s fastest shot
Michael Harris combines quickness with accuracy to lead Ohio in goals after first half of season
Many young kids watched The Mighty Ducks and dreamed of being hockey stars. Few of them have gotten as close to their dream as Ohio forward Michael Harris.
It’s from that movie that the junior says his interest in hockey was born, immediately going to his mom and having her sign him up for skating lessons.
Seventeen years later, Harris has made it through two Junior Hockey League teams, one North American Hockey League team and now leads Ohio in goals halfway through his third full season in Athens.
“He’s your ideal power forward,” coach Sean Hogan said. “He’s fast and strong, and he’s really tough to knock off the puck.”
Harris was pegged before the season even started as a player the Bobcats would look at to provide serious scoring, and he hasn’t disappointed.
In 20 games, he has recorded 24 points with 14 goals and 10 assists. He’s already in range of the 26 points he finished with last season and is tied with Joe Breslin for the most points on the Bobcats, while he has three more goals than anyone else on the team.
The forward’s coaching staff and teammates know his strengths almost as well as he does, which typically leads to Harris getting set up in the best position possible to score. That is most evident in his power play numbers, where his shot — the hardest on the team — can go on display in the most effective way possible. Harris has scored five power-play goals this season, while no one else on the team has more than two.
“You never know when he’s going to shoot because he can shoot from anywhere,” Harris’s linemate Patrick Spellacy said. “He’s pretty accurate, and he’s pretty good about picking his spots. That kind of player with a shot like that is really tough to play against.”
Harris is a native of Silver Spring, Maryland, a town just outside of Washington, D.C., whose claim to fame is housing the middle school home of comedian Dave Chappelle. Harris spent his early high school years playing for the Team Maryland American Youth Hockey League team, before moving on to playing junior hockey in Washington and New Jersey.
Harris was then drafted fifth overall to NAHL Fresno, where he played three quarters of a season as he began searching for potential college destinations. He said his decision to come to Ohio quickly became an easy one.
“OU had one of the top programs in the country and had every major I was looking for,” Harris said. “I talked to Coach Mo (former Ohio Coach Dan Morris), and then I got accepted and came to visit. After not even two minutes walking around, I knew this was the place I wanted to be.”
Harris is on pace to break his personal record of 44 points in a season — a mark he set during his freshman year at Ohio. Even if he falls just short of that mark, however, the first line of Harris, Breslin and Spellacy will remain one of the strongest in the Central States Collegiate Hockey League.
“Since our rink is smaller, we get the puck at the apron, and with our line, we’re all big guys, we thrive when we control the puck down low,” Harris said. “I don’t think there’s many teams in the country that can defend us when we have control of the puck.”