Plague Wins Game and Two Awards
The OC Plague hockey team played an exhausting four games in two days on Feb. 25 and 26 at the North Park ice rink in Elyria. Despite a 1-3 record for the weekend the team came away with plenty to feel good about. Oberlin won the best team sportsmanship award and their goalkeeper, junior Ben Wolak, was named the best keeper of the tournament. In addition, members from the team are running a hockey ExCo this semester. These achievements show the great strides the team has made over recent years.
The Plague didn’t belong to a league a few years ago. In fact, ever since the ’70s when the college cut the varsity program, hockey has been falling even more below the college radar. Now, thanks to dedicated members of the team, the club is part of the Central Collegiate Club Hockey League. Junior defenseman Talor Walsh along with senior Adam Seidman and junior Bryce Fotiu-Wojcowitz wrote a mission statement, filled out the appropriate forms and paid fees for membership in the CCCHL in 2005. Despite having their budget from last year cut in half, the team is determined to persevere.
The team’s popularity has grown ever since it became student-run 30 years ago. More committed players have grown accustomed to taking care of the non-athletic tasks necessary to keeping club hockey at Oberlin alive. The team has a 25-man roster, with about 15 showing up regularly for games and student-run practices. The entire team jammed into two hotel rooms in Elyria about two weeks ago for the season-concluding CCCHL Tournament.
In their first game, the Plague faced Kenyon and lost 6-4. Wolak put on a show in front of the net but the club still came up short. Even though they lost, the team was satisfied with a strong effort in the close contest. “In our first regular season match-up with Kenyon we lost 11-2, they killed us. This time we played them close and definitely showed a lot of improvement,” said Walsh.
The next day Oberlin played three games, a tough task that required plenty of endurance and stamina. The team’s second contest unfortunately was not nearly as close as their first. Ohio Wesleyan out-skated the Plague and outscored them 14-2. A bright spot in the blowout was a brilliant goal by junior Nate Conroy. While being hooked on the body from behind by a beaten defender, Conroy faked to the goalie’s right and pushed the puck into the net, almost jumping over the OWU goalie in the process.
After losing two games, the Plague refused to go winless in the tournament. Their play showed this desire as the team went on to win their third match 8-3. Even though they were undersized, Oberlin had speed and brilliant goaltending on their side. Wolak had an excellent game and Wittenberg couldn’t keep up with the Oberlin forwards. Once Oberlin realized their quickness advantage, they switched from zone to man defense, allowing them to keep Wittenberg out of the zone. When asked how the team knew what to do, Walsh said, “We scouted them out before hand and exploited the defensive pairing. We took it to them all over the ice.”
In the final game, the team competed against a rough and tumble gang from Denison in which they lost 9-1. Denison had control most of the way and Oberlin was never even close to tying it after the first period of play. Denison also displayed some poor sportsmanship. Denison chose to put all of its players in front of the net during the final minutes of the game to try and run the score up to ten or more. Many Plague players became upset by this unfortunate display and small scuffles ensued. Walsh was very unhappy with the situation. “They’re good, but they’re also dirty. They talked a lot of smack throughout the game.”
The Plague had a successful tournament, as they were able to win a game and
receive awards for both individual and team accomplishments. The existence of
the team was in jeopardy not too long ago and now with all of that in the past,
there are plenty of good things to talk about. Although the regular season is
over, the team is still practicing hard and looking forward to the Alumni Game
at 1 p.m. on March 18 at North Park ice rink. Students can take the Plague fan
bus for service to and from the game.