New and old faces were on the ice for the Bobcats in their first full week skating as a team.
Friday at 4 p.m. players had a two-way shootout running full-tilt at Bird Arena. New players mingled with veterans as if they had always been a team, though they'd known each other for less than a week.
Then it was 4:01 p.m. and coach Sean Hogan came down and ended the players-only skate. The Bobcats had gone past their ice time for the day.
If staying late on a Friday — after practicing from 3-5 p.m. the previous four days — is indicative of the players’ excitement for the coming season, Ohio is exactly where it needs to be with less than three weeks to go.
Getting in ‘September shape’
After spending months away from Bird Arena, the first week back on the ice served as a reminder to players that some reconditioning is required.
“Everyone’s getting their legs back from summer,” freshman Bryan Lubin said. “Some guys skated more than others, but everyone’s coming back together. It feels good.”
Senior Michael Harris noted that, aside from conditioning, the team needs to get back in the groove of doing the small things right.
Harris said things like chipping the puck up the sideboards and avoiding flat-footedness are skills “you don’t really work on over the summer too much."
“We’ve just got to get back into our style of hockey — just dominating teams and not even giving them a chance to win," he said.
The ice is twice as nice
Despite evident team camaraderie, Harris thought week one of practice was highlighted not by the players themselves, but by the surface they played on.
Ohio added its new ice in mid-August and hasn’t run into any problems with it yet. Last season, brief pauses were often necessary during home games to water down sections of the ice and fill uneven patches.
“We have very good ice right now, which we haven’t had,” Harris said. “We normally practice on half concrete, so that doesn’t really help.”