ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Senior forward Corey Elkins, a native of West Bloomfield, Mich., wraps up his blog on the Buckeyes’ weekend in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday. Next up, Ohio State welcomes conference foe Michigan State for a two-game CCHA series at 7:05 p.m. Nov. 7-8 in Value City Arena.

Nov. 1, 2008
Saturday began with another 9 a.m. wakeup call. We all headed down to breakfast for another great buffet with eggs, oatmeal, french toast and fruit. As the routine goes, after breakfast we headed to the rink for our pre-game skate to get our legs loose and handle the puck. After practice, we watched video from Friday’s game to look at areas where we can improve. We focused on special teams (power play and penalty kill), as those are often difference makers in hockey games. Special teams change momentum and frequently determine who will win on any given night. Timely power-play goals and shutting down the opponent’s power play at critical times will always be a focal point for every team in college hockey. 

We made it back to the hotel to once again eat. As you can tell, eating and sleeping is a large part of our day on the road. People often don’t realize how much skating takes out of your legs and it is really important to take care of your body all week long, but especially on the weekend. After the grind of a Friday night game, most guys also like to take an “ice bath.” This really helps with the recovery of your legs and basically consists of sitting in ice water (about 45 degrees) from the waist down for 10 minutes or so. Once you get through the shock of the first couple of minutes it isn’t too bad. Anyways, we ate chicken parmesan for our pre-game meal and basically headed right back to sleep! Personally, I tend to take longer pre-game naps on Saturday afternoons, simply to try and get as much recovery as possible. 

Eventually, 4:15 p.m. rolled around and we made it to Coach Lammers’ room to eat our snacks, consisting of peanut butter, bagels and fruit. Our entire day of preparation and the bitter taste in our mouths from last night made us itching to get to the rink and get a win.

The puck dropped at 7:35 p.m. Michigan struck first with a power-play goal and unfortunately, from that point on, we couldn’t fight our way back. We ended the first period down by two. Special teams again would prove to be a difference maker, as Michigan scored shorthanded and on a power-play in the second. We got a goal on the power play in the third period but it was too little, too late. The game ended, 6-1. When playing a team like Michigan on the road, it takes three periods of hard work, good execution and a lot of team speed. After a weekend like this, the only thing we can do is bottle up the feelings evident in the locker room after the game and use them as fuel for next weekend. I have no doubt that this weekend was a learning experience for our young team and we will respond.      

Oct. 31, 2008
After a good Thursday practice, we loaded up the bus for our trip to Ann Arbor. We have been looking forward to this series for a long time and it is easy to see that we are all excited. 

Another reason for the excitement is the anticipation for the ritualistic meal we eat before our Michigan weekend. Since I have been a Buckeye, every trip to Ann Arbor begins with a Thursday night meal at Mancy’s, a steakhouse in Toledo. 

After a great meal, we made it to our hotel. We definitely are cared for well on the road between our meals and hotel accommodations. On top of an awesome steak dinner, we were all pretty pumped to have HDTV in our rooms. Soon after we arrived in Ann Arbor, we ate a bit of pizza before shutting down for the night. 

Wakeup call Friday was at 9 a.m. and then it was downstairs for breakfast. Following breakfast we headed to the rink for pre-game skate. We geared up and had a great skate, feeling prepared for the task that lied ahead of us. It always feels good to get the legs loose and feel pucks after a bus ride, even though it was only a three and a half hour trip.

After our skate we made our way back to the hotel for pre-game meal. For those who don’t know, our bus is scarlet and white with Ohio State written across the side of the bus from back to front   which stands out like a sore thumb on the Ann Arbor campus full of maize and blue. Some of the student’s reactions to our bus were pretty interesting. 

Chicken Marcela and vegetables seems to be the meal of choice this year for Friday afternoons. The food was great and we were now down to about six hours until the puck dropped. Naps typically follow pre-game meal. It’s a good time to relax and reset your mind for the game. Some guys are pretty focused all day long while others like to be a little more loose. Pre-game nap is about the time I start thinking and visualizing about what I want to do during the game.       

Finally, after a light snack of peanut butter and bagels, we throw on our suits and head to the rink. At this point, everyone is focused and excited. Walking into Yost, it is easy to get excited to play hockey. The place has the feel of an old “barn” style hockey rink.

After our routine warm-up and other rituals such as taping sticks and listening to music, we were prepared to come out of the gates flying.

And we did just that. After the first period we were down by one due to a Michigan power-play goal, but we knew we had good legs and were putting a lot of pressure on them 5-on-5. We made a solid push during the second and ended the period tied, 3-3, with two goals from Rudy (Todd Rudasill) and one from Pics (Mathieu Picard). We had momentum and felt good and ready to go for the third period. The third was just as fast paced as the whole game had been, both teams battling to get the go-ahead goal. Unfortunately tonight we came up short. But the loss creates an aura of determination and anticipation for tomorrow. We will be ready.