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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. 

Ohio forward comes to Athens thanks to connection with coach

Hockey forward Cody Black’s connection to assistant coach Kyle Schussler led him to Ohio.

Despite hockey’s growth nationally and across the globe, it’s still a small world.

Cody Black, a forward coming to Athens to play for Ohio coach Sean Hogan this fall, used a tight-knit connection to learn about the Bobcats.

Black knows Ohio assistant coach Kyle Schussler — who is entering his second year under Hogan — because the two played hockey together in a Thursday night league in Pittsburgh. Schussler also dated someone from a family close to Black’s.

So when the father of Black’s family friend told the 20-year-old about Ohio, Schussler was right there to recruit him.

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“It was funny, it was Kyle that was an assistant coach there and I reached out to him and just asked a few questions about everything,” Black said. “The more he told me about the program and whatnot, and introduced me to coach Hogan, it just kind of fell into place.”

Playing for the North American Tier III League’s Pittsburgh Vengeance, under the same head coach as former Bobcat defenseman Mike Kretz, Black put together impressive offensive numbers. He scored 41 goals and 94 points in 93 games in his two seasons with the Vengeance.

Joining an Ohio team already with offensive stalwarts such as Michael Harris and Joey Breslin, however, Black is ready to fill whichever role Hogan needs him in.

“I consider myself a hard worker,” Black said. “So if they need someone to forecheck, grind it out, even though I’m a small dude, I’ll work my butt off to get the puck.”

A native of Wexford, Pennsylvania, Black had a couple of NCAA D-III programs from the Boston area on his radar, as well as other American Collegiate Hockey Association teams from his home state. But after talks with Schussler, two visits to Ohio’s campus and Bird Arena, Black knew he’d be lacing up for the Bobcats in the fall.

“Oh it’s unbelievable. You just feel right at home,” he said. “And after the second time I went there, it was just like, how could I not come here?”

Any time Ohio faces Pittsburgh in the near future, Black knows he’ll be staring into a lot of familiar faces on the ice.

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“It was basically my whole high school team that went to Pitt and as soon as they heard I was going to OU they were like, ‘Oh god, you’re going to kick our ass,’ ” Black said.

The Bobcats made light work of the Panthers in last season’s two-game sweep at Bird Arena, in which Ohio put up 16 goals and outshot Pittsburgh 118-18. Having left his friends behind for a currently top-tier hockey club, Black understands how they might view him now.

“Pretty much the traitor,” he said with a laugh.

This article is the first in a series of five highlighting Ohio’s incoming hockey recruits for the 2015-16 season. Open tryouts will be held at Bird Arena in the fall with details coming soon at ohiobobcatshockey.com.

@JordanHorrobin

jh950614@ohio.edu

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