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Men’s hockey: Ohio State’s 2016-17 success due to senior class

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Ohio State senior goaltender Christian Frey stretches out to make a save against Michigan at the Schottenstein Center on Feb. 25. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo Editor

650 games, 119 goals, 320 points and nearly 4,000 saves. These statistics represent the accomplishments of the members of the Ohio State men’s hockey class of 2017.

The seven seniors — forwards Nick Schilkey and David Gust, defensemen Drew Brevig and Josh Healey, and goaltenders Christian Frey, Matt Tomkins and Logan Davis — have recorded 63 victories in 140 games and, collectively, put Buckeye hockey on the map.

This unit’s efforts and accomplishments on and off the ice have been recognized over the last four years, as they have racked up a combined eight All-Big Ten honors, 24 Ohio State Scholar-Athlete awards, 21 Big Ten Star of the Week accolades, and four Big Ten Distinguished Scholar recognitions.

Ohio State senior forward Nick Schilkey winds a wrister from the left slot against Minnesota on Feb. 11 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Jacob Myers | Assistant Sports Editor

With that being said, coach Steve Rohlik said this group is the reason why OSU hockey has reached the success it has had since the 2013-2014 season began.

Two regular season games remain on the schedule for the Scarlet and Gray after Saturday, and Rohlik’s team currently sits on the edge of its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2009. With that, Schilkey said OSU expected to make the tournament from the beginning of the year and that an appearance this season would be “icing on the cake.”

“These seven guys have put this program where it needs to be on and off the ice,” Rohlik said. “They’ve done an incredible job, they’re what it is to be a Buckeye. You look at those seven guys, and that’s exactly what it takes.”

Surprisingly, not every player in the graduating class joined the Scarlet and Gray roster at the same time. Frey signed his National Letter of Intent with the Buckeyes in Dec. 2013 after playing two seasons with the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the United States Hockey League.

After arriving in Columbus, Frey said he wasn’t sure what to expect by coming into a squad in the middle of the season, besides that he was entering an “awkward situation” with two other goal stoppers on the roster. Now, more than four years later, Frey said he still remembers his first experience in an OSU uniform — a 25-save performance in a 6-3 home win.

“I remember it was against Mercyhurst, and I was just so nervous playing college hockey for the first time,” Frey said. “I came in like a week before that, and then I was playing my first college hockey game. So it was just crazy for me.”

Ohio State senior defenseman Drew Brevig waits for the faceoff in a game against Robert Morris on Nov. 4. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo Editor

Additionally, Frey said he enjoyed meeting the other six members of his class after joining the Buckeyes, though they even gave him a hard time on occasion.

“They were all here before me, so they were all buddies and I just kind of came into their group. I remember sophomore year we had a group chat that was, like, ‘sophomore six plus Freyzie,’ so I was just kind of excluded,” Frey said jokingly. “But, it was awesome meeting those guys, and I think we have a really good group of guys in (the locker room).”

Among the other seniors, Schilkey has been key to the Scarlet and Gray’s success in the last four seasons. As a two-time captain, the Marysville, Michigan, native has notched 125 points on 66 goals and 59 assists in 135 games played.

The Buckeyes’ forward will play his final game at the Schottenstein Center Saturday night, and said he is proud of what this group of seniors has accomplished.

“I think we’ve worked hard over the last four years, and it’s special to us to be able to say that we’re trying to leave this program in a better place than we found it; and I think we’ve done that,” Schilkey said.

In light of the Buckeyes’ senior night on Saturday night against Michigan State, Schilkey said that emotions will be high for himself and the rest of the senior class, but the team’s collective attention is set on three Big Ten points.

“Everything about (Ohio State) has been great to me, it’s been great to the rest of the seniors,” Schilkey said. “We’ve just got to win games, and that’s really been the focus. Whatever Saturday (brings), leaving on a good note or whatever that is, it’s a matter of that we’ve got to win that game.”

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