The class of 2019 is one that has featured many key players over the last four seasons for Ohio. This article is a part of a larger series that The Post will conduct on all seven members of the senior class.
Matt Rudin exited the Ohio locker room with a thick black headband pushing his hair up and a grin to match.
As he made his way toward the ice for a portrait following the Bobcats’ practice on Wednesday, Rudin caught a glimpse of himself and was pleased with what he saw.
“Man, I look good,” he said.
Rudin’s quick wit and sense of humor have been two of the defining characteristics about the senior winger. When times are tough, he’s been able to provide guys with a laugh — even coach Sean Hogan.
“He’s made me laugh on countless hours on bus trips,” he said. “He just really makes me laugh.”
Ever since his freshman year, Rudin has sat in the same seat for every road trip. On the right side of the bus, diagonally behind Hogan, the two have talked hockey, school and life. Those conversations and long bus rides are numbered as the two only have one more together.
What they still have are the memories that they have made over the last four years. In his freshman campaign, Rudin made an immediate impact. He was never scratched as he appeared in all 39 regular season games and contributed 30 total points (18 goals, 12 assists). Throughout his career, Rudin has been found in front of the goal, screening the goalie and scoring his goals off of puck deflections.
That’s precisely why Rudin has played a career total 123 appearances for the Bobcats. Sure, the Bobcats have other players on the team that set net-front screens and put their bodies on the line in way of slap shots from the blue line or one-timers in the slot.
But none do it quite like Rudin.
“He’s a great player for us,” Hogan said. “He scores big goals for us and he plays great defensively.”
Noted as a team player by Hogan, there’s one teammate that Rudin will perhaps miss the most: his fellow linemate, Tyler Harkins.
It’s a relationship that Harkins has used both on and off the ice to grow as a player and as a person.
“He’s been a hard-working player and he’s carried me a long way throughout my career,” Harkins said. “I just want to make the most of our time left together. We’ve had years of playing together and obviously a lot of laughs along the way.”
By knowing each other for that long, that sense of chemistry has helped Ohio out. One of the more notable examples took place last season when Ohio hosted league-rival Lindenwood.
In a tense back-and-forth game, Harkins was able to find the back of the net with just a second left in the game to give Ohio the lead.
The pass to score the goal? Off the stick of Rudin.
The following night, the Bobcats dominated the Lions in a 4-1 manner. The duo scored the team’s only goals and assisted on three of them.
A chemistry like that won’t be as apparent next season when Harkins enters his senior year and Rudin is elsewhere. There’s still time left, however, for the two to end Rudin’s career strong.
“I want to end the year strong with him and send him out with some hardware,” Harkins said.
As the two reminisced and shared stories, they also realized there’s still a lot of time left to make new memories. With six regular season games left, the annual postseason league and national tournaments, Rudin’s days are coming to a close at Ohio.
“I’m going to miss my buddies, they’re my family,” Rudin said. “Going to school here and playing hockey here, you’ve got to buy into the system. It’s not just playing hockey for fun, you’ve got to stick to the process. I’m going to miss those Friday and Saturday nights in Bird Arena.”
As Rudin skated off the ice following his portrait, he took a quick look back at the small sheet of ice he’s scored goals on, tallied assists, won big games and lost tight ones.
It’s a sheet of ice he knows will be with him forever.