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Men’s hockey: Logan Davis’ unlikely path to OSU dream

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OSU senior goaltender Logan Davis stops a shot against Michigan at Yost Arena on Nov. 29, 2013. Credit: Courtesy of OSU Athletics.

OSU senior goaltender Logan Davis stops a shot against Michigan at Yost Arena on Nov. 29, 2013. Credit: Courtesy of OSU Athletics.

Heading into the final stage of his hockey career with the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets and set to graduate from nearby Upper Arlington High School, Logan Davis was busy narrowing down his college choices as his hockey options were not coming along as he had hoped.

That same year, he was the starting goaltender for Ohio State against No. 3 Michigan in the first-ever Big Ten Conference hockey game at one of hockey’s most hallowed venues, Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Davis, now in his senior year at OSU, started his hockey career, as many local Columbus products have, because of the influence of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.

His dad, longtime WBNS-10TV meteorologist Mike Davis, who attributes his own hockey roots to growing up in Minneapolis, was a big fan of the Minnesota North Stars before the team moved to Dallas.

As fate would have it, it would be a Blue Jackets matchup against the Dallas Stars, Logan’s first hockey game with his dad, that inspired Logan desire to strap on the pads and take on one of the most thankless jobs in all of sports.

“From that game, (Logan) saw (Blue Jackets goaltender at the time) Ron Tugnutt,” Mike Davis said. “He pointed at him and he said, ‘Dad, that’s what I want to do.’”

Oddly enough, the six-year-old Davis’ allure to the game of hockey that night on Nationwide Boulevard stemmed from everything that was happening around the game itself.

“It wasn’t necessarily game play as much as it was the atmosphere (at Nationwide Arena) and that, to this day, is the most important thing to me,” Logan Davis said. “Hockey games are electric, the fans and the game itself is so fast paced. It’s so energetic that it suited my personality very well.”

Enrollment in local learn-to-skate programs and development in the Columbus Chill Youth Hockey Association followed, including lessons from OSU hockey legend Perry Pooley, who currently sits tied for 10th in all-time scoring as a Buckeye, with 174 points during his tenure from 1981-84.

Despite his desire to play goalie, Davis started out as a forward briefly in youth hockey, but the team he was on didn’t have a set goalie and they all took turns between the pipes.

When Logan took the net, there were few things that could separate him and the crease.   

After years of building his talent with local teams and ending with the AAA Blue Jackets, Logan found himself at the crossroads that most hockey players face at some point in their careers. Junior hockey tryouts were not going as he had hoped and life as a regular college student and possibly club hockey loomed on the horizon, or so he thought.

Late in his senior year at Upper Arlington, one of OSU’s goalies at the time, Peter Megariotis, transferred to Lake Superior State University, leaving a hole in the goaltending core at Davis’ dream school.

The Buckeye coaching staff came to a Jackets’ practice and talked to Davis about the role of becoming a third-string goalie for OSU.

No sales pitch needed, he was in.

“The stars aligned,” Davis said. “I was in the right place at the right time, and the situation fell into my lap.”

The stars would align again for Davis in November 2013 in a way rarely seen in college hockey.

Davis joined a goaltending trio that included fellow freshman Matthew Tomkins and sophomore Collin Olson. Olson transferred early into the season and Tomkins suffered a freak ankle injury just four minutes into the Buckeyes’ bout with Niagara on Nov. 9.

“I see (Tomkins) and I thought he was just coming to the bench for water.” Davis said.

Davis was in, and 56 minutes and 16 seconds of occupying the crease later, he registered his first collegiate win mere months after the situation was deemed unfathomable.

“I really don’t know how to describe it because I didn’t have any time to think.” Davis said.

OSU coach Steve Rohlik had to scramble to find reinforcements until Tomkins returned to full health and he could bring in Christian Frey, now a senior with the Scarlet and Gray, during winter break.

Davis became the leader of the Buckeye goalie trio comprised of OSU club hockey goaltender Aaron Kahn and OSU varsity baseball catcher Aaron Gretz, who had played goalie for Apple Valley High School in Apple Valley, Minnesota.

A few weeks later, as an 18-year-old true freshman — a rarity in college hockey these days given the typical route for hockey players that includes junior hockey for a few years before going to college — Davis was tasked with starting OSU’s first-ever Big Ten Conference game against rival Michigan.

He stopped 34 shots, including a penalty shot, in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Wolverines.

Amidst a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd, Mike Davis could not have been prouder.

“We were in this little section of scarlet and gray surrounded by maize and blue and they never stopped chanting and taunting,” Davis said. “Those fans go after the goalie, the goalie’s mother, the goalie’s sister. They’re chanting all of these things.”

Logan finished his freshman year with a record of 3-2, a goals against average of 2.21 and a save percentage of .909.

He played in two games his sophomore year, both against Michigan, before not seeing any action last year.

So far this season, he has played in two games, logging just over 21 minutes of time in the net while making six saves.

Few people get to see all that Davis does behind the scenes, such as getting called upon to take part in practice drills primarily structured for the Buckeye offense, which currently tops the NCAA averaging over four goals per game.

Not exactly a Greg Goldberg situation from “The Mighty Ducks” in which Davis is tied to the net, but a key factor nonetheless as to why OSU is lighting the lamp behind nets across the country this year.

OSU goaltending coach Joe Exter could not be more pleased with the player and person Davis has become in almost three and a half years with the program.

“He accepts responsibility for what he has to do, but he goes above and beyond,” Exter said. “He’s done a great job with our team, whether it’s leadership through his example or ideas of how things could get better, whether it’s us as a group or as an individual.”

Davis’ development and work ethic has yielded confidence from the coaches.

“He could go in tomorrow night and give us a chance to win.” Exter said.

Not bad for someone who once said, “Maybe I’ll just be a normal student, just go to college and maybe play club.”

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