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Seven engineering students were part of the Bobcat ice hockey team competing in the American Collegiate Hockey Association's National Tournament this month, while juggling their demanding coursework in the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ School of Engineering and Technology.
The No. 4 Bobcats, who were on a 12-game winning streak in ACHA competition, lost to No. 3 Minot State in the semifinals March 5.
The team's success does present challenges when paired with the Russ College's rigorous academics, said Nick Hudeck, a freshman forward and industrial and systems engineering major.
“It's very difficult,” said Hudeck. “The amount of time spent on both can be stressful but I've learned to balance the two. Alden has become like a second home to me.”
The other Russ College players on the team are Aaron Alkema in chemical engineering, Fedor Dushkin and James Hubbard in mechanical engineering, Zander Dover in engineering technology and management, and Liam Geither, and J.D. Howard in industrial and systems engineering.
The players say being a Russ College student and a hockey player at the same time is a trying but rewarding experience.
“Without such outstanding leadership and commitment by the players and coaches, we never would have made it to the final four,” said Howard, a freshman forward. “I am proud to have gotten the chance to experience such a great year of hockey with the best group of guys I have ever played with.” Hudeck said he always wanted to be an engineer.
“Once I got here, it was only a matter of deciding which type of engineering I wanted to do,” he said. “I like to be challenged in the classroom, and engineering has definitely taken that to the next level.”
Dale Masel, associate professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, says Howard and Hudeck are experts at balancing.
“I've gotten e-mails from them while they were on the bus traveling to a game, to ask questions about a homework assignment that they're working on,” he said. “To keep up with the rigors of both engineering and hockey, they need to be proactive and manage their time well.”
Hudeck, Howard, and junior forward Zander Dover all knew each other before attending Ohio University.
“We all played for a AAA program in Cleveland called the Cleveland Barons where we traveled all over the country and Canada playing the best talent our age,” Dover explained.
The three of them are now a part of OHIO's close-knit hockey community.
“My favorite thing about playing hockey at OHIO is being with the boys,” Dover said. “We're all like brothers.”
Freshman defenseman James Hubbard made his way to the team from just that kind of community and familial support. He joined the team after being out of school for a few years.
“The past three years I was only playing adult league at home in Raleigh, North Carolina,” said Hubbard, who works when back in Raleigh for a hockey school called Prime Time Hockey, teaching kids.
“It made me miss playing hockey competitively every single day. It wasn't until one of the mothers whose kids that I teach kept telling me, 'You need to go to college,' that I even thought about going to school.”
When Hubbard decided to pursue a degree, he knew that he wanted to come to OU, just like his dad and former coach Robb Wade, who also previously coached the Bobcat hockey team.
As far as his choice to study engineering, he says math has always been his favorite subject and his brother, an electrical engineer, may have had some influence.
“My mom always tells me she knew I'd wind up being some sort of engineer because I was always taking things apart and trying to figure out how they worked and then trying to put them back together again,” he said.