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Men’s hockey: Forward friendship frozen on ice

Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern photographer

A little more than four years ago when the two were freshmen, they sat next to each other in the locker room. Then, they played on the same line during games. Now, they’re in all the same classes.

Senior forwards John Albert and Sergio Somma have developed a unique friendship while playing on the Ohio State men’s hockey team, which allows them to joke around but be serious when it’s time to take care of business. They seem to have a certain comfort level with each other, which was evident the moment they were asked to say something about the other.

“His feet smell terrible; it’s pretty bad actually,” Albert said of Somma, with a chuckle. “I think over the years I’ve gotten used to it.”

Albert had a few more fun facts about his buddy.

“He really cares about his sticks,” Albert said. “If there’s a little dent on his stick … he always puts it in my face.”

Somma wasn’t shy about sharing some tidbits about Albert either.

“He eats funny,” Somma said. “He like dips his head down and shoves food in his mouth … and he, like, doesn’t move his head.”

While the two aren’t afraid to point out the other’s faults and embarrassing habits, they also have a certain respect for each other. They don’t hesitate to talk about how much they like being teammates and how their friendship helps out on the ice.

“(John is) a real great skater, a real dynamic player,” Somma said. “Somebody you enjoy being around off the ice, you’re probably going to click better with on the ice. … It happens to be like that with me and John.”

Albert said he enjoys playing with Somma and their friendship makes it easy to be teammates.

“I have a great time playing with him,” Albert said. “It’s great. He’s a great player; he’s feisty on the ice.”

OSU coach Mark Osiecki said he knows he has to keep Somma and Albert on the same line because they make each other play better.

“We’re trying to keep those two together,” Osiecki said. “They feed off each other.”

Somma and Albert said they enjoy being on the same team now, but wonder what it would be like to play on different teams at the next level — the NHL. Albert has been drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers and Somma could receive offers after this season.

Albert gave the impression that Somma is a player he wouldn’t want to face.

“As an opponent,” Albert said, “I think it’d be a struggle to play against him.”

Somma thought differently of facing Albert.

“It would be funny,” Somma said. “Just give him a smile and a whack, and then you keep playing.”

NHL fantasies aside, both players said they are concentrated on this season with the Buckeyes.

Albert said the off-ice friendship makes it easier for the two to give each other constructive criticism on the ice.

“He’s always there to pick me up,” Albert said, “and I think it’s vice versa.”

Throughout the four years they’ve played together and been friends, Albert said, he wonders what Somma really thinks of him.

“At least I hope he likes me,” Albert said with a smile.

Somma reassured that they’re friends, saying even if he didn’t like Albert, he’d still act like it.

“Everyone thinks I do,” Somma said, “so I guess I’m doing a pretty good job acting like it.”

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