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.
Cody Black lain on the ice, face-down, clutching his knee. He didn’t want to admit it, but he knew the pain was going to keep him out longer than a shift or two.
It was Feb. 2 when the senior forward tore his ACL and other ligaments in his right knee.
It was Feb. 2 when the senior’s gritty playing career at Ohio ended.
It was Feb. 2 when the game became different.
Two weeks passed, and Black was back in Bird Arena, only his white No. 18 jersey was nowhere to be seen.
Dressed in a white collared shirt paired with a brown sweater and navy-blue slacks, Black strolled his way around the boards to the bleachers behind the home bench.
The once upbeat guy was quiet, and his eyes were down just long enough for someone to notice.
“It took a mental toll on me,” Black said of his injury.
How could it not? After all, he is Ohio’s captain. He’s one of the most respected players on the team. He has only one more shot at a national title with “Ohio” written across his chest in a green or white jersey.
The mental toll was brief, however, as he knew that just because he wasn’t on the ice, it didn’t mean he stopped being a part of the team.
“We’re always positive, we’re always upbeat,” he said. “I have to carry myself the same way.”
That positivity has carried Black into the position he was in prior to his injury. It has carried him from being a healthy scratch most of his freshman year to a central part of the Bobcats success over the course of the last two seasons.
It’s that positivity that has made him one of coach Sean Hogan’s favorite players to coach in his career.
“He was the most reliable guy,” Hogan said. “One of the great players I’ve coached, he’s been an asset to the program.”
In his time at Ohio, Black appeared in 125 games and totaled only 14 penalty minutes. In just this season alone, only seven players have fewer penalty minutes than all of Black’s career.
He learned at a young age that being reserved helps the team more than retaliating.
He was never the biggest guy on the ice – at 5-foot-7-inches and 165 pounds, that’d be a feat to be the biggest guy – Black has had to rely on his ability to outwork opponents.
That’s how he got injured in the first place.
On a power play, he had a one-timer but missed. He chased after the puck and collided with a Syracuse skater, sending Black him to the ground.
Since his injury, the Bobcats have found their groove. They rattled off four wins in six games, which included a sweep over then-No.4 Iowa State. They made it to the Central States Collegiate Hockey League Tournament Championship game. And now they’re poised for a run at a national championship in the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Tournament.
Without Black, the Bobcats have noticed their missing leader – and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say they play for him as the team frequently mentions they put the team first.
Without Black, the Bobcats will have to face perhaps their toughest uphill battle – and he’ll be at home watching, but he knows they’ll get it done.
“The pain of my knee will be taken away whenever the boys come home with a national championship trophy in Athens,” Black said.