It was not the end to his Ohio State hockey career that he wanted, but at least Carson Meyer went out with a bang.
Two weeks ago, Meyer scored four goals in a 9-1 victory over Wisconsin in the first game of a best-of-3 Big Ten quarterfinal series. The next night, he had the Buckeyes’ only regulation goal in a 2-1 overtime win that sent Ohio State into the conference semifinals.
That semifinal, scheduled against Michigan at Nationwide Arena, would be canceled. Meyer and the Buckeyes hoped they’d be playing for the conference title this past weekend on their way to an already assured spot in the NCAA tournament.
"It's just been weird," Meyer said. "It's been a bit of a whirlwind, and everything's kind of at a standstill right now."
That’s life in March 2020 on planet Earth. Meyer is training in his parents’ gym in Powell. Finding ice time is another matter. All local rinks are closed.
"I'm just going to try and stay in shape as best I can considering there's no ice to skate on," he said.
Meyer is used to dealing with unforeseen adversity. A sixth-round pick by the Blue Jackets in the 2017 draft, Meyer began college at Miami University. His career in Oxford was short-circuited by a 25-inch tapeworm that caused undiagnosed weight loss and weakness until he finally passed it.
Meyer transferred to Ohio State, and it took him awhile to round back into form. It wasn’t until his senior season, particularly the second half of it, that Meyer’s game took off.
Heading into his four-goal game, though, Meyer felt sluggish.
"I remember even before the game feeling like I’d napped too long," he said. "I didn't feel as energized as normal, like I was a little bit in my own head. Then as soon as the game started, I kept getting the puck and it kept going in."
To Buckeyes coach Steve Rohlik, Meyer’s season-ending scoring flurry was a fitting reward for a lot of work. He said Meyer has become a 200-foot player, more responsible on defense and away from the puck.
"As the year continued to go on, you could just see the improvement," Rohlik said. "He was killing penalties at the end of the year, which he hadn’t done. He was scoring power-play goals at the end of the year. You need your best players to be your best players, and certainly that was happening down the stretch."
Then the stretch abruptly ended. The Buckeyes, like everyone else, had heard murmurs that their season might be halted. Meyer said they heard it would be, then wouldn’t be. Then it was.
"It was pretty heartbreaking," Meyer said. "Each of the coaches spoke their piece and thanked us for everything and talked about how heartbreaking it was for them.
"Obviously, as a senior, that's not how many of us imagined it coming to an end. I think we were as a team, we were starting to play some of our best hockey."
The Blue Jackets must decide by Aug. 15 whether to sign him. His logical next destination would be Cleveland in the American Hockey League, which like every other league has suspended play.
Chris Clark, the Blue Jackets’ director of player personnel and Cleveland Monsters general manager, said the decision whether to sign Meyer is up to general manager Jarmo Kekalainen.
"But he did everything he needed to do personally to finish (strong)," Clark said. "He got to show exactly what he can do and how he can do it."
Meyer finished with a team-high 17 goals for Ohio State. But stats probably aren’t his strongest selling point.
"He’s such a great kid," Rohlik said. "That goes a long way. He always came to the rink with a good attitude. He always had a little twinkle in his eye. He always worked hard. He does well in school.
"He’s a positive kid and fun to talk to. He’s always talking to the guys and the other coaches, and it’s just fun having him around. That’s really important."
Clark also raved about Meyer.
"He's awesome," he said. "I’ve worked with a couple hundred guys or more in the past 9-10 years. Just taking hockey away from it, just as a person, he's been one of the best people to talk to. He asks questions, very intuitive, very smart. Those are some of the things you want in a player, as well.
"You want the on-ice stuff obviously. But I’ve been in a position to get to know him as a person, and he’s probably been one of the best that I’ve worked with."