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Ohio senior forward Michael Harris tries to handle the puck through the legs of Illinois freshman defender Tyler Opilka during a game on Feb. 5 at Bird Arena.

Bobcat senior forwards reflect on time with Ohio hockey

Five Bobcats will be at Bird Arena for their final home series this weekend, and The Post asked three of them to look back on their careers.

Ohio captain Michael Harris can still remember his first shift as a freshman playing at Bird Arena. 

Now, Harris, along with the other four Bobcat seniors — forwards Vincent Nicolella, Diego Breckenridge and Derek Rahme, along with defenseman Tyler Pecka — played their final home series this weekend against Illinois. 

The Post talked to Harris, Nicolella and Rahme to allow them to reflect on their careers and reveal how they feel about it all coming to an end. Below are excerpts of the conversations. 

The Post: Have you thought about this weekend being your last one playing at Bird Arena? 

Michael Harris: Didn’t even just hit me like that until you just told me. I mean I knew it was coming. My days at Bird are numbered here, but now that you put it that way, I don’t even know what to say. It’s tough. I just remember my freshman year like it was yesterday. It just seems like last week I started here and had my first home opener. 

Vincent Nicolella: Just thinking about it, I get a little bit sad going into it, but I’m still very excited about this weekend. I’ll get to be out there with my parents and all my teammates I’ve been there with since day one. 

Derek Rahme: No, I don’t think it’s really hit me. People keep bringing it up …it’s crazy to think that we’re almost at the end. I don’t even know when it’ll hit me. I don’t know if it’ll hit me this weekend. 

Post: What’s your favorite Ohio Hockey memory? 

MH: Everything with the guys. Coming to Ohio was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. The bond you get with the guys here is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced on any other team. 

VN: Freshman year, we got the opportunity to host playoffs here, and we ended up winning the championship. That was probably the best experience I’ve had here, so I want to repeat that this year and look forward to nationals. 

DR: On the ice, when we won (the league tournament) my freshman year, it was pretty ridiculous. We won it here. We weren’t one of the higher seeds, so we had to win three games. That was pretty crazy. 

Post: What will you miss the most about Ohio Hockey? 

MH: Coming to practice every day. That’s the highlight of my day is just coming to the rink. Just coming, being around the boys, being at Bird, getting ready for game days and playing in front of a packed house. 

VN: Really, I’m going to miss just being here every day with all my teammates. After the season you really see how much you don’t see the guys outside of hockey necessarily because we come here everyday. 

DR: The camaraderie. I live Uptown right in the middle of Court Street, and I’ll come home and there’s three guys there. I’ve come home last year and guys were cooking breakfast in my apartment, or go to the library, and there’s six guys that already have a table held down for the team. 

Post: What message do you have for younger players? 

MH: Just cherish every minute you’re at the rink. Every day you’re here, just make the best of it. When it’s over, it’ll hit you hard. It sucks. 

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VN: Work as hard as you can every day that you come here. Sometimes, I think we take it for granted that we’re here every day … just cherish the opportunity that you have here. Before you know it, it’s going to be gone. 

DR: Oh man, it’s so cliché, but it goes by so fast. I hate saying it. I hated hearing it. I can remember my freshman year when we lost in nationals to Minot State … the seniors said it, and I was just like, “You know what, I’ve still got three more years. It’s going to be a long time.” It goes by fast, so I would just say enjoy it. 


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