|Left-winger Max McCormick was a sixth-round pick by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn. He and seventh-round Ryan Dzingel are both headed to Ohio State to play NCAA hockey for the Buckeyes starting in the fall (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images). |
Football loyalties alone might suggest they'd be the most unlikely of fast friends.
But Max McCormick
, who hails from Green Bay, Wisc., and Ryan Dzingel
, from the Chicago suburb of Wheaton, Ill., are all about hockey first. And, putting aside which side of the storied Packers-Bears rivalry each might reside, these are two guys who hope to take the same road all the way to the National Hockey League someday.
For starters, the two 19-year-olds forward were both picked by the Ottawa Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, held last weekend in St. Paul, Minn. McCormick went in the sixth round (171st overall), while Dzingel was chosen in the seventh (204th overall). And they'll see a lot more of each other beyond this week's Senators development camp — McCormick and Dzingel will both be Ohio State Buckeyes starting this fall.
"We're friends. We've been hanging out all week," said McCormick, a 5-11, 175-pound left-winger who toiled for the Sioux City (Iowa) Musketeers of the United States Hockey League last season. "(At Ohio State), we can talk about the things we've got to do. We can work together on stuff and push each other to be better."
McCormick and Dzingel first got to know each other a year ago, when both were members of the gold-medal winning U.S. entry in the World Junior A Challenge in Penticton, B.C. The fact both were drafted by the Senators has only served to strengthen their bond.
"I didn't know (McCormick) much until Penticton," said Dzingel, a 6-0, 185-pound centre who also played in the USHL last season with the LIncoln Stars in Nebraska. "He was one of my friend's roommates there and I started talking to him. He committed to Ohio State after I did, so I'm glad he's coming with me."
The Buckeyes' program is headed up by the highly-regarded Mark Osiecki, whose NHL career included 34 games with the expansion Senators in 1992-93. Ohio State is currently a member of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, but will play in a new Big Ten hockey conference starting in 2012-13.
"Mark Osiecki is a great coach and I think I'll learn a lot from him," said McCormick, no doubt aware that his new coach worked by the bench of the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers before moving on to Columbus, Ohio, and NCAA hockey. "I'll develop more and get bigger and stronger and work on my skills. I'll just improve as a player."
Added Dzingel: "Mark Osiecki is going to get us where we need to be. Ottawa loves our coach and loves the school we're going to, so it's a good situation."
Both future Buckeyes were clearly on the Senators' radar heading into the 2011 draft. While McCormick and has family made the four-hour drive to St. Paul for the draft, Dzingel stayed home and got the news of his selection by Ottawa there.
"I'd been talking to some teams that had some interest and Minnesota's only four hours away from my home in Green Bay," said McCormick. "So I figured I might as well drive down and get the experience and, hopefully, be fortunate enough to get drafted. It ended up working out. I felt just a lot of excitement and was just honoured to be drafted. It was cool to be there with my family and they got to experience it as well."
This week's Sens development camp has been an eye-opener for both players.
"Everyone treats you well and you get everything you need here," said Dzingel. "I've learned so much stuff ... Some of the skating and lifting techniques, I've never done before. I'm getting a lot better in just a week."
Said McCormick: "I've learned so much about how you should be preparing for a game and what you need to be doing after a game to recover, and things you should be eating and supplements and how much sleep you should be getting at night. I've just learned so much little stuff that I've had questions about before."
It's a learning curve they both hope to ride all the way to the big show someday.
"We might be fighting for one spot here someday but hey, he's still my buddy," said Dzingel. "Hopefully, I make him better and he makes me better. I hope one day we'll both get here."