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(From left) Ohio's Cody Black, Matt Rudin and Tyler Harkins hug after Black (#18) scores a power play goal during the first period of the Bobcats’ game against John Carroll on Friday.

Hockey: Ohio's best line is Cody Black's, for now

In its weekend sweep over John Carroll, Ohio’s skaters found plenty of ways to earn some points. 

No line had a more organic time finding ways to score than Cody Black’s — he was paired with Tyler Harkins and Matt Rudin on the wings. The three forwards proved to be the Bobcats’ most successful line in their opening weekend.

Harkins had a hat trick in Friday’s win, Rudin had a hat trick in Saturday’s win and Black had 9 points on the weekend. Overall, the three forwards combined for more than 40 percent of Ohio’s offense, including nine of its 21 goals.

“It’s easy,” Black said about playing with Harkins and Rudin. “They work their butts off the entire time. They’re always buzzing around the rink, and they’re excited to be out there.”

Two of the team’s more active scorers, Harkins and Rudin combined for 32 goals a season ago. Black is hopeful that by playing with those two, he’ll score more goals himself.

“The scoring touches, it comes natural to them,” Black said. “Hopefully it rubs off on me a little bit. They just know where to be, and I follow that perspective a little bit.”

Not only was the line productive during even-strength opportunities, but it excelled on the power play.

The Bobcats’ “true power-play unit,” as coach Sean Hogan dubbed it, took the ice just once in each game this weekend.

It scored both times.

While the line’s production is evident, it’s fueled by an unrivaled amount of chemistry and selflessness. The three are quick to complement one another and not take for granted the success they’ve achieved through one another. 

“It’s fun (playing with those guys),” Harkins said. “Cody’s got a lot of speed and attacks the net with a hard body, and Rudy obviously bangs bodies around and gets the puck.”

Despite having a strong Friday night with four points, Harkins struggled to keep his emotions in check throughout the weekend. The junior forward racked up 26 penalty minutes, including two 10-minute game misconducts.

Harkins spoke on how his linemates kept him in check after the game misconducts had been served, telling him that he was all right.

“It all starts with looking in the mirror,” he said. “I talked to them about it, and it just starts with hard work at practice and keeping it cool.”

Hogan spoke highly of the team’s most productive line, its natural style of play and its evident chemistry.

“I thought that was a great line,” he said. “I think a lot of the lines are going to be shaken up this week, a lot of different looks, but that line in particular looked really good.”

While he said the line looked really good, Hogan didn’t rule out the possibility of shaking up Black’s line just to experiment in order to put Ohio in the best position to succeed.

Whether or not that happens, after one weekend with 20 combined total points, Black’s line is Ohio’s best option to get pucks in the back of the net.

“We work well together,” Black said. “We (have) just got to carry it into the next one.”


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