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Ohio University forward Michael Harris with the puck in Bird Arena, at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, on Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. 

New captains take on new roles next season

Ohio coach Sean Hogan gave his input on what to expect out of Ohio’s next group of leaders 

About five months before the start of their 2015-16 season, the Bobcats took their first step toward the next campaign by naming a new captain and three assistants.

A vote conducted exclusively by the players was announced Wednesday and four seniors were given new leadership roles for the upcoming season.

The Bobcats voted forward Michael Harris as their main captain, while forwards Derek Rahme, Diego Breckenridge and defenseman Tyler Pecka were named assistants.

Ohio coach Sean Hogan weighed in on the new leaders of his hockey team and identified what type of role he expects to see each of them play next season.

Michael Harris, captain – (2014-2015: 21 goals and 15 assists in 32 games) 

Harris was Ohio’s best all-around offensive player last season, netting a team-high 21 goals and tying for a team-high 36 points in his 32 games played. In addition, his shooting got him nine goals and 14 points on the powerplay — both team highs.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Harris is a physically dominant player who is difficult to push off the puck, can put power behind his shots and is accurate enough to be a lethal sniper.

“He has such a bomb that you have to utilize it,” Hogan said of Harris’s shot. “He’s so big and strong, I think people want to use him as a net front guy and make him be this grinder-type player. That’s just not what he is.”

Tyler Pecka, assistant – (2014-2015: six goals and 13 assists in 38 games)

No one will have bigger skates to fill next season than Pecka. With senior defensemen Mike Kretz, Paul Sergi and Tyler Benson leaving, Pecka will be looked upon to become the team’s top blue-liner.

Pecka finished second in scoring for Ohio defensemen last season, but his powerplay points were lacking because he was on the second unit. Without Kretz and Benson to quarterback the first powerplay group, it’ll be up to Pecka to take control.

“I talked to him individually about (his role),” Hogan said. “He’s going to have to be the captain at the top of that powerplay. He has that ability.”

A lot of pressure rests on Pecka’s shoulders to become the new face of Ohio’s defense, but increased contributions from sophomore Jake Faiella and junior Mike LaFrenier should smooth his transition.

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Derek Rahme, assistant – (2014-2015: four goals and seven assists in 34 games) 

Rahme’s greatest asset to Ohio is his ability to work rigorously in both the offensive and defensive zones. He proved that last season by playing the entire regular season as a forward, then moving to defense for the Central States Collegiate Hockey League and national playoff tournaments.

Rahme is the team’s third line center, but is able to move to defense if Hogan ever wants him there.

“It depends if we get an injury again,” Hogan said of Rahme potentially playing defense. Rahme said defense has been his natural position since he was 10 years old, but he moved to forward last season because it meant an opportunity to get more playing time.

Diego Breckenridge, assistant – (2014-2015: three goals and four assists in 27 games)

As a player who bounces between the third and fourth lines and doesn’t put up flashy offensive numbers, Breckenridge would probably be overlooked by most people outside of the Bobcats.

Inside the locker room, however, his teammates recognize him as a high-energy player who can boost Ohio’s momentum.

“I can put Diego out there knowing he’ll try to just run somebody through the boards, and guys respect that out of him,” Hogan said. “Diego will go 100 percent, 100 percent of the time.”

jh950614@ohio.edu

@JordanHorrobin

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