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OHIO Hockey announces Hall of Fame class for 60th season


OHIO Hockey has announced the 2017-18 Hall of Fame class. This year’s class will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of OHIO Hockey, with three former players being named to the Hall of Fame. OHIO Hockey will induct former player and head coach Tiff Cook, goaltender Bill Gurnick and defenseman Ryan Johnston. 

Former player and head coach Tiff Cook was a goaltender for OHIO Hockey during the NCAA Division I era. Cook backstopped the Bobcats from 1963 through 1967 and was the starting goalie for the first-ever OHIO Hockey NCAA Division I hockey team during the 1966-67 season. During that season, Cook stood tall between the pipes to secure OHIO Hockey’s first-ever varsity win inside Bird Arena, a 2-1 win over the heavily favored Wisconsin Badgers, coached by the legendary “Badger” Bob Johnson. 

Cook posted a 3.13 goals against average and a .900 save percentage during his sophomore season, two statistics that were extraordinary for the era. Cook later would coach the Bobcats in several different capacities, as an assistant coach from 1967 through 1969 and as a head coach from 1987 through 1991. As a head coach, Cook’s teams posted an 85-17-0 record with a .833 winning percentage, the highest in OHIO Hockey history. His OHIO teams finished in the top four nationally in each of the four seasons he served as head coached. 

Cook later went on to author an instructional book titled, “Goaltending a Systematic Approach to Improvement.” He served as an Ohio University professor for 50 years from 1967 to 2017 with a PhD in sports education/health education. Cook has also held a special interest in OHIO Hockey history and its importance to the Athens community. OHIO Hockey is excited to honor Tiff Cook with the Hall of Fame. 

Bill Gurnick will join Cook as a goaltender in the Class of 2018 OHIO Hockey Hall of Fame. Gurnick manned the pipes for OHIO from 1960 through 1963. Nicknamed “The Sheik” by his teammates, Gurnick is best remembered for having to make numerous saves in the early years for OHIO Hockey. For example, OHIO, in its infancy, traveled to college hockey staple Michigan State University in January of 1961 to take on the powerful Spartan Hockey program. Although the Bobcats suffered two losses, 12-0 and 8-1, Gurnick made an outstanding 136 saves over the two nights. 

Gurnick was also the subject of numerous articles from The Post during his playing days. In an article covering the 1961-62 season, The Post made mention of his importance to OHIO Hockey’s early success, stating “Back in goal is Bill Gurnick. Gurnick is one of the main reasons for last year’s successful season.” The following year, there was more praise in The Post for Gurnick, “Position by position, this is how it shapes up. In goal, OHIO has the superb Bill Gurnick.” 

Gurnick currently lives in Florida and OHIO Hockey looks forward to hosting him and his family in January. 

Ryan Johnston was a staple on OHIO’s blue line from 1992 through 1996. He played a key role in OHIO’s National Championship seasons in 1995 and 1996 and was an ACHA First Team All-American in 1995. He was integral to Head Coach Craig McCarthy's plan to have blue collar players that were physical and hard working. Johnston personified those aspects with his play and work ethic. 

Beyond all the accolades Johnston received over the course of his career at Ohio University, he proved to be a leader on and off the ice, having been selected as assistant captain and as First Team Academic All American in 1995. His physical presence along with his instinctive nature proved to be an asset on special teams as well. Not only was he an elite defenseman, he also had a knack to contribute offensively. During OHIO’s first National Championship season in 1994-95, Johnston totaled 13 goals and 29 assists for 42 points in 32 games – an outstanding number for a defenseman. 

Hall of Fame member and Johnston’s head coach, Craig McCarthy, had this to say about him. “Ohio Bobcat hockey was so fortunate to have a player like Ryan Johnston. He was regarded as one of the greatest and most dominant players in the ACHA in the 1990s.” 

McCarthy continued, “Ryan combined a unique combination of physical presence as a defenseman, coupled with his incredible skill set, superior knowledge of the game and tremendous leadership both on and off the ice.” 

After four successful seasons with OHIO Hockey, Johnston went on to a professional hockey career in the East Coast Hockey league. 

OHIO Hockey will be hosting the Alumni Weekend and Hall of Fame Induction on Jan. 19 and 20. OHIO will take on the University of Pittsburgh that weekend, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at www.ohiobobcatshockey.com

Further details regarding the Hall of Fame induction dinner will be released shortly. 

This article was provided by OHIO Hockey.