The Ohio State men’s hockey team lost only three players off of last year’s club and returned 14 of its 15 top scorers. However, this year’s team features only one senior – Mathieu Picard.
Picard, 24, has been playing hockey since he was four years old, when his father built a rink in his back yard. But in all of his playing days, Picard says a team with only one senior is a situation he’s never seen before.
“It’s certainly different. I’ve never experienced that before,” Picard said. “But to me it really doesn’t matter. We’ve got some great juniors and some good leaders. It’s like we’re all one family here right now.”
While Picard says it doesn’t matter if he’s the lone senior, he does admit that the title comes with pressure and expectations.
“I want this season to be my best season, so, yeah, I do put some weight on my shoulders,” Picard said. “But exactly like I said, we’ve got some great juniors and expectations and even sophomores that are stepping it up big this year, and we need them. As long as I play my best hockey I think my job is done.”
Picard has notched one goal and three assists for the Buckeyes this season. He’ll need to have a big season for it to be his best, as he’s coming off a junior campaign in which he recorded a career-high six goals and nine assists.
Some of the players Picard referenced who are stepping up as leaders are juniors Sergio Somma and Peter Boyd and sophomore Zac Dalpe. The trio, along with Picard, share the honor of being assistant captains.
For Picard, being looked to for leadership and as a captain is nothing new. The Ontario native served as team captain for the Hawkesbury Hawks. Picard played five seasons for the Hawks before coming to Ohio State. In his final season with them, Picard was a First Team All-Star as a left wing and was named the league’s best graduating player.
Picard’s success carried over into his first season as a Buckeye, when he contributed with three goals and eight assists. His numbers have improved each season. And this, his final campaign, is one Picard believes can be really special.
“Team chemistry is really good, for sure the best since I’ve been here. [It’s the] closest team; we’re like a family this year. So that’s a reason I believe we can go further this year than ever.”
Picard will look to spark the Buckeyes in this weekend’s Holiday Classic, and get the Buckeyes rolling after a tough start. The Buckeyes are 5-8-1 this season but have more than half of the schedule left to play. The Buckeyes play Friday against North Dakota at Grand Forks.