The biggest difference – the “lingo.”
Ohio State men’s hockey freshman goalie Matt Tomkins said that was the most noticeable difference between his home country, Canada, and the United States.
“Us Canadians get a kick out of some of the things we hear (in the U.S.), but I’m sure the local people say the same thing after having a conversation with us,” Tomkins said.
OSU (11-6-1, 1-2-1) recruited two international freshmen to join the Buckeyes in the 2013-14 season along with five other players from within the U.S.
“It’s pretty special being a part of the Buckeye family and (it) is something you know will be special before you get here, but you don’t really understand the magnitude of how special it is until you are actually a part of it,” Tomkins said. “Having the opportunity to play for one of the most respected sports programs in the country was extremely exciting and is still pretty surreal to this day.”
Though exciting and surreal, the change from Canadian to American culture has brought on some challenges for the players.
“Here in Ohio, all they play on TV is football and basketball, and the people can’t stop talking about those two sports either,” freshman defenseman and Alberta native Josh Healey said. “So (it’s) just two opposites really, but I don’t mind the change.
“I come from a place where all they talk about it hockey, everyone plays hockey whether it be in an organized league or on the outdoor rink,” Healey said.
Healey said aside from the sports cultural differences, America is very similar to Canada. However, both athletes have found comfort in their teammates to help make the adjustments easier.
“A big part of making the transition easy was obviously coming in to an environment such as I did where I was part of a team and family right away, with many people ready to help me with anything we needed,” Tomkins said.
Healey said he receives support both on and off the ice.
“Whether it be advice from a senior or help getting set up in the dorms, someone has always been there,” he said.
Aside from adjusting to the new environment and balancing school with hockey, Tomkins and Healey said they feel like any other college freshman adjusting to the new phase of college life.
“I love Columbus so far.” Tomkins said. “I am especially excited to have a car next year and be able to explore the city and area even more.”
Next up the team is scheduled to take part in the Hockey City Classic against Minnesota Friday at 9 p.m. in Minneapolis.