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Austin Heakins (9) drives to the black teams goal in Bird Arena Friday night MATT STARKEY|FOR THE POST

Hockey: Heakins tries to model his game after former Pittsburgh Penguins star

When most Pittsburgh Penguins fans are asked who their favorite player is, often the answer is Sidney Crosby. That's not the case with Austin Heakins.

Heakins, a freshman on Ohio’s hockey team, grew up idolizing Jordan Staal, and continues to model his game after the 6-foot-4-inch Canadian who played a majority of his career for the Penguins.

“A lot of guys don’t notice what he does on the ice but he’s real tall and uses his stride to his advantage," Heakins said. "He’s a really efficient penalty killer and gets his stick nice and long and uses his strides and that’s what I try to do my best at.”

At 6-foot-3-inches tall, Heakins does his best to be a big, physical presence on the ice. That was proved in the Green and White Scrimmage, when he had multiple scoring opportunities and set teammates up to score on a couple more.

Another aspect of his game Heakins uses is his speed on the ice along with using it to help his teammates.

“A lot of my game is my speed,” Heakins said. “So I like to get in, get after the puck and be the first man on the puck so I can set up opportunities for (my teammates).”

Prior to coming to Ohio, Heakins played the physical role for the Pittsburgh Penguins U-18 team, as well as the Aberdeen Wings and the Johnstown Tomahawks, both of the North American Hockey League. While the experience was valuable to Heakins, playing for Ohio has always been a goal.

“I actually talked to Ohio University when I was a senior in high school so three years ago I started this journey,” Heakins said. “Now it’s becoming a reality.”

Even with the past experience, Heakins is still a freshman with no collegiate hockey under his belt. There are, however, plenty of veterans on the Bobcats’ roster that have and will continue to help him get accustomed with the season opener just days away.

“It’s always nice to have the older guys,” Heakins said. “”They’ve been here, they have done it and they know what to expect.”

While having the veterans to help him along with the transition to college hockey, Heakins realizes that being young is not exactly a bad thing.

“Being a rookie again is fun,” Heakins said. “It’s a good experience being in here, just to get to college finally after a little bit of a break.”

@spencerholbrook

sh690914@ohio.edu

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