A year ago at this time, things were a lot different for Blue Jackets prospect Carson Meyer.
He was playing hockey at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, rather than at Ohio State, where he is now. His season is reaching a crescendo, too, thanks to playing for a Buckeyes team that is NCAA-tournament bound.
Oh, and he isn't suffering from the immediate aftereffects of dealing with a tapeworm.
Yes, Meyer is the Columbus prospect and AAA Blue Jackets alum from Powell whose season a year ago was derailed by chronic fatigue and weight loss issues. Doctors couldn't figure out what was going on until late February, when it was discovered a tapeworm had been living in his body for about a year.
Fast-forward 12 months and his hockey career is back on track as he's excelling for the team in his backyard.
"I have definitely taken a step forward from last year, but I still feel I have a whole 'nother level to get to," he said. "I just have to work my way back here. For a lot of this year, I was playing catch-up to get back to where I was. It's just about being consistent now because I'll have streaky games where it feels like I'm playing the best hockey I've ever played, and then I'll have a game where I'm not as good."
Considering he lost nearly a year of development, Meyer is in a good spot. A year after he had six goals and 10 points as a sophomore at Miami, the junior is tied for third on the Ohio State team with 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 34 games.
Blue Jackets development coach Chris Clark said it's been nice to see the progress Meyer has made in a year's time, and his transfer to Ohio State has been a marriage that's been good for Meyer's future.
"The coaches have been great there," Clark said. "His transfer to Ohio State has been great for him. The coaches have given him all the opportunities -- power play, on the top two lines, plenty of ice time, which is great because he needs to build that back up and get that going.
"He missed basically a whole season of development because of not being able to work out because he didn't have the strength. He's kind of getting back to a baseline during the season where starting after this season, he can build to where he would be if he hadn't had the issue."
But most importantly for Meyer, he's having fun at the fun time of the year. Each of Meyer's two seasons at Miami -- he had 10 goals and 26 points as a freshman two years ago before being a sixth-round pick of the Blue Jackets in the 2017 draft -- the RedHawks were eliminated from the postseason in the first round of the conference playoffs.
This year, Ohio State (20-9-5) has won its first-ever Big Ten regular-season title, running away from the rest of the league at 13-7-4 in the conference, and its second-ever conference crown along with the 1972 team that won the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association. The Buckeyes are assured of a return to the 16-team NCAA tournament field.
After having a bye in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, sixth-ranked Ohio State opens postseason play Sunday with a home game against Penn State in the league semifinals.
"I'm really excited," Meyer said. "The last two years, I've been planning my spring break right about now. The last couple of years, watching other teams in the tournament, I was kind of jealous and wanting a piece of that. Now I'm going to get a piece and I'm looking forward to it."
Meyer has been a key piece of a Buckeye team that has continued to build on last season's success under head coach Steve Rohlik. A season ago, Ohio State won its NCAA regional to advance to the program's second-ever Frozen Four.
This year, Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in the country before it played a game, and the Buckeyes have been in the top 10 all season.
"The seniors in their senior speeches were talking about how they started off their freshman year 0-7, and now we're doing this," said Meyer, who attended OSU games and camps when he was growing up in central Ohio. "It's crazy how far it's come."
The same could be said of Meyer's development after he went through last year's difficult campaign. Clark said when he sees the 21-year-old on the ice, he sees a player who is getting back to the energetic forward who scored 32 goals in the USHL three season ago.
"He's getting opportunities, he's scoring goals, he's getting assists, helping his teammates and all that stuff," Clark said. "He's developed quite a bit from the beginning of the year until now heading into their playoff time.
"He skates well. I think he thinks the game pretty well. It's something where he doesn't have a ton of size, so a lot of what he does has to be dogged. He's going after pucks and getting under guys' skin at times. He doesn't do it as much as I'd like him to, but I think one of his main things is getting back to that and really being a dog-on-a-bone-type player."
One year after Meyer wasn't sure where his hockey career was going, he's back on the track he envisioned when he first was picked by the Blue Jackets two summers ago.
"It's a pretty awesome feeling because the mental aspect is probably the hardest," Meyer said. "I went through a lot of physical fatigue and stuff, but mentally I didn't know if I'd ever get back to play like I can again. I feel like I've gotten to that point and I have another level to get to."