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Senior Corey Elkins blogged from the team’s trip to Fairbanks, Alaska, for the quarterfinal round of the CCHA tournament. After the Buckeyes rallied to tie the series with a 4-2 win Saturday night, the Nanooks claimed the series with a 1-0 win Sunday in game three. Ohio State now waits to see if they can receive an at-large spot in the NCAA tourney.

Day 5 – Sunday
Sunday seemed to go by incredibly slow. Same daily routine with everything bumped up an hour because we played at 6 p.m. instead of the usual 7 p.m. We were all so anxious to just get the game going that it was tough to fall asleep for a pregame nap … at least that was how it felt for Dalps and myself.

6 p.m. finally came and we were flying from the drop of the puck. I can say with no hesitation we out-skated and outplayed our opponent. We wanted to get to Joe Louis so bad, and it was literally stolen from us. There is really not much to say, our hopes were crushed. We did everything we could.

While we are all sitting in the airport here in Fairbanks, Peter Boyd has been hard at work trying to figure out what has to happen for us to still make the NCAA tournament. We still have a good chance! It’s funny, the kid is in one of the lowest possible math classes OSU has to offer and we are letting him do the calculations to figure out our possibilities. So from this point it is out of our hands. Cross your fingers, our season could still be alive … we will know for certain by Sunday morning next week. (Editor’s note: The NCAA selection show is at 11:30 a.m. Sunday on ESPN2.)

Day 4 Saturday continued
Saturday began just as it usually does on the road. 9:15 breakfast buffet consisting of eggs, French toast, fruit, oatmeal and hash browns. This morning’s breakfast was a bit more quiet because of the bitter taste in our mouths from the night before. After breakfast we headed to the rink for an optional pregame skate. A bunch of us opted not to skate and got our legs moving by a pretty intense game of 2-touch. Juggling the soccer ball is usually a pregame ritual, but on days where we don’t have a morning skate we like to get loose by playing soccer. 2-touch is simple enough. You can juggle the ball a maximum of 2 times and have to pass to anyone in the circle. If you make a bad pass or touch more than twice you are out of that round. It gets pretty intense. We played for about 20 minutes until Biondo took a bullet to the face and we called it a day, and then finished up the morning at the rink with a stretch and some more video. 

We have been a team who responds when our backs are against the wall all year long. In the locker room before the game we were relaxed but also anxious to get on the ice. All season long we have been successful because of our depth and you could feel there were no doubts. I have a lot of faith in this team and we were about to do everything we could to take this series to three games.

We worked hard and got a lead early on in the game. Overall it wasn’t the prettiest performance, but that is playoff hockey. It was a good team effort, and we got offensive and defensive contributions from everyone. Tomorrow night will be another battle … someone’s season will come to an abrupt end. We are happy with the win last night, but again the situation puts our backs against the wall, and I know we have another gear!

Days 3/4 – Friday/Saturday
Friday morning was routine as always. 9:15 breakfast then right to the rink for our pre game skate. We didn’t have the best of practices Thursday afternoon, so we knew we wanted to be sharp Friday morning.  We had a good skate and we all felt good and energized to get the job done that night. 

We headed back to the hotel for our pregame meal of pasta, grilled chicken, salad and veggies. After the meal I decided to take a cold tub back in our hotel room. For me this has become not only a Thursday post-practice ritual, but also a pregame ritual following team meal. 2 p.m. rolled around and it was time for Dalps and I to shut er’ down until about 4. Then it was time to head to the rink and go through our warm-up and get ready to go.

The Carlson center was packed and it was a great atmosphere to play in. Unfortunately we did not have the game we envisioned for ourselves. We dropped game one to UAF 4-0. Following the game we figured out where we can make adjustments to our play to generate more scoring opportunities. 

Tonight our backs are now against the wall, and we are fighting to save our season. No matter what happens we will do everything we possibly can to make sure we take this series to game 3. 
 

Day 2 – Thursday
Thursday morning we woke up and made our way downstairs for the 9:30 a.m. breakfast. Eggs, potatoes, oatmeal, fruit, and waffles all made up a solid buffet!  After breakfast we had free time until lunch so guys could get school work done. Because finals are next week, most of the boys had papers or studying to do. Fortunately for me I have had a light work load in my final quarter at OSU. My 12 credit hours to complete graduation with a history degree with a minor in entrepreneurship consisted of golf, tai chi, AIDS awareness, history of rock and roll of the 50’s and my varsity credit for hockey. For those that are unaware, every varsity athlete has the opportunity to get credit toward their degree for playing their sport, called “varsity credit.” This counts as a two credit hour course and can be used twice during one’s academic eligibility. Two credit hours seem a bit short of the one million hours spent at the rink per quarter. Just kidding … it is really nice to be able to get credit hours for playing the sport we all love! Not to mention it has allowed my last two quarters of college to be significantly “lighter.” But hey, I worked hard the past three years to set my senior year up this way.  I’m not that lazy!

After the study session, during which time I was deep into my career in Tiger Woods ’09 for PSP, we had a lunch buffet set up at 1 p.m. Deli sandwiches and chicken noodle soup were on the menu. After lunch we bussed over to the rink for practice. Once again it was important for us to get on the ice to feel the puck and get our legs under us. Also the ice sheet here in Fairbanks is Olympic size, which is about 15 feet wider that standard NHL sheets. This makes a big difference in the way the game is played and is important to become adjusted to. We spent about 45 minutes on the ice and got off feeling ready to go for tomorrow’s game.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a grocery store so we could stock up on water and Gatorade. At this stage in the season hydration is extremely important. Also because of the travel and four-hour time difference, our bodies need to adjust, and hydration is the number one key. We then went to dinner for a typical Thursday night meal: steak, potatoes, veggies, and bread. As you can tell when we aren’t on the ice or sleeping … we are eating! I feel very sorry for our servers, I guarantee they never work as hard as when we are there. Back at the hotel we relaxed until pizza arrived at 10 p.m. Then it was lights out. We have Joe Louis Arena in our sights, and the battle to get there begins tomorrow night!

Day 1 – Wednesday
Wednesday, March 11, 3 o’clock in the morning … We all gather together at the Schott looking like a bunch of zombies! We made this trip earlier this year in January, we know what to expect. Most guys didn’t even bother to go to sleep the night before, knowing we have about a 14-hour journey to sleep all we want on planes and in five separate airports. First Columbus, then Atlanta, Seattle, Anchorage, and finally we would arrive in Fairbanks, Alaska.  Because our travel arrangements had to be made at the 11th hour, we were broken up into three groups, all leaving at different times, taking different routes across the country. The first group was the biggest, and we were in the air at 6:15 a.m.

This time around I tried to avoid as much airport food as I possibly could. The last time my stomach wasn’t right for a week, so instead of eating out of boredom, I slept and read as much as I could. Believe it or not we do have a few readers on this team, including myself, Palms, and Heeter. Some other guys read magazines which I suppose counts as reading, but when you make it through a magazine in under 5 minutes, you are probably just looking at pictures. Most guys are heavily into videogames on either PSP or their iPod touches.  I am a PSP guy too.   

Overall, the trip went a million times smoother than the January fiasco! We took off and landed on time, making all of our connectors and arrived in Fairbanks with all of our luggage.  However, there was one mishap that almost turned into a disaster. We were all boarded on the plane in Atlanta waiting for the doors to shut and back off from the terminal, when someone realized that Dusty Carlson was missing. After about 15 minutes of announcements throughout the airport… still no Dusty! They finally couldn’t wait any longer so the airplane doors were shut, the tunnel was pulled back from the plane,  and we were about to back off, when Coach Lammers decided he would stay back to find Dusty and make sure he got to Fairbanks somehow. Luckily this move held the plane up for another couple of minutes, as the doors proved to be difficult to open!  Dusty made it to the plane! He was sleeping somewhere in the gate area and no one knew where he was to wake him up.

The day ended with a quick practice in Fairbanks to loosen up our legs from the long day of sitting around, followed by pizza and much needed sleep!  Dalpe and I (always roomies) were out in no time.