Cody Black plays cooler than the ice he skates on.
Very rarely does the senior forward find himself in the penalty box. A year ago, he tallied just 6 penalty minutes; through eight games this season, he hasn’t served any time in the box.
The reason why Black can keep his cool even in the most trying of situations? His father, Jim.
Cody played for Jim while he was at North Allegheny High School. Being the coach’s son didn’t mean he had a free pass. If anything, it meant he had to work harder than his teammates.
“I was always hardest on him because it was what I demanded,” Jim said. “There couldn’t be a perception that I favored him over anyone else just because he was my son.”
The father-son duo rarely had their quarrels, but when they did, they were brief and direct. One of those moments between the two taught Cody a valuable lesson. It helped shape him into the player he is today.
During his first shift in the first period of a game in his senior season, an opposing skater hit Cody the wrong way. In retaliation, he drew a slashing penalty — a call he still disagrees with.
What was more frustrating than the penalty was the episode that happened when he returned to the bench.
“As soon as I got back from the penalty box, (Jim) just looked at me and pointed to the bench,” Cody said. “He said, ‘You’re not moving for the rest of the game.’”
One of the leaders of the team, Cody was supposed to be an example for his teammates and, in a high school setting, the community as a whole.
Instead, he sat on the bench as if he were a child that had just thrown a temper tantrum.
“I was mad at myself for taking myself out of the game,” Cody said. “It’s hard to just sit there and watch, when you put yourself above the team when it always has to be team first.”
A lesson he learned while on the bench, Cody used to take penalties, but that habit was conditioned out of him through his father and his standards as a coach.
“From a discipline standpoint, it’s about playing from whistle to whistle,” Jim said. “You can play hard and smart at the same time.”
Now in his final season as a Bobcat, Cody’s clean style of play meshes among his teammates who might have a more aggressive approach, like Tom Pokorney or Jake Houston. It’s always been Cody’s hope that he can model how to play aggressively but within the rules.
“Those guys are a lot more skilled and a lot more talented than I am, so I’d much rather have them on the ice,” he said. “In a crucial moment, I’d like for them to be out of the box and on the ice, and I hope I can help them anyway I can.”
Cody’s unselfish demeanor has only grown while he’s been at Ohio, but it all started with the man who raised him on and off the ice.
“It’s an emotional sport, and there are a time and place (for penalties),” Jim said. “But the conversation he and I have always had is, ‘Do you want to get back at a guy, or do you want to win a championship?’’’
Cody only has 26 guaranteed games left at Ohio. In those 26 games, his style of game probably won’t change. Sure, he may tack on a penalty — no one is perfect, after all — but for him, perfection is what he demands.
That expectation is a part of his game.