Upper Arlington Roundup: Max Robins exceeds scoring goal for Golden Bears hockey squad

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Max Robins celebrates a goal in Upper Arlington's Blue Jackets Cup championship game victory over St. Charles on Feb. 14. Robins led the Golden Bears with 33 goals through 31 games.

Max Robins offers few explanations as to how he became the Upper Arlington hockey team’s primary offensive threat this season, with more than twice as many goals as any of his teammates.

“I don’t know,” said Robins, whose 33 goals through 31 games powered the Golden Bears to the second seed in the district tournament and seventh spot in the final state poll. “Our line has been getting more playing time as we get later in the season and games get more important. My line is full of upperclassmen. We’ve had to step up and take some of the scoring load and we have.

“My line is a senior (Adam Karap) and two juniors (Carson Gresock and Robins) so we’ve done this before. We’re experienced. We’ve played playoff hockey, games that matter.”

Gresock, who assisted Robins on one of the Bears’ most important goals of the season, was more succinct.

“This has been his year,” Gresock said.

Robins admitted he never anticipated his personal success but is less surprised by that of his team, which was 19-9-0-3 before playing seventh-seeded Olentangy Berlin in a district semifinal Feb. 27. 

UA, which opened the postseason with a 4-0 win over 19th-seeded Columbus Academy in a second-round game Feb. 21 at OhioHealth Ice Haus, was 10-1-1 in its previous 12 games before playing Berlin.

Robins scored 11 goals in both his freshman and sophomore seasons and was aiming for 25 this year.

“I’m obviously not doing it by myself. You look at the guys around me, they’ve been feeding me open looks,” he said. “Even I’m surprised it’s gotten to 31 and still growing. I knew I could put up numbers, but it’s nice to see it actually happen.”

Robins scored the tying and winning goals in a 3-2 victory over St. Charles in the championship game of the Blue Jackets Cup on Feb. 14 at the Ice Haus. The first goal was shorthanded and the second came off a faceoff on a play drawn up by assistant coach and former Blue Jacket Derek Dorsett.

Robins situated himself between two and three feet from the faceoff, taking a pass from Gresock and burying a one-timer.

“We’d worked on it every practice. It’s in our game plan,” Gresock said. “Playing with Max makes my job really easy. He scores a lot of goals. I get him the puck, he goes in and scores. He has great eyes and great hands, the best hands in the league. He can get in the zone pretty easily, get around defensemen and create opportunities.”

The UA-Berlin winner played third-seeded Olentangy Liberty or sixth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller in a district semifinal Feb. 28. The winner will take on top-seeded St. Charles, fourth-seeded Oxford Talawanda, fifth-seeded Olentangy Orange or eighth-seeded Thomas Worthington in the district final March 6 at the Ice Haus.

UA lost to St. Charles 4-3 in overtime Feb. 3 before a 1-0 win Feb. 7. It beat Talawanda 3-2 on Jan 31, edged Orange 3-2 in overtime Dec. 16, lost to the Pioneers 2-1 on Jan. 22 and defeated Thomas 3-1 on Feb. 5.

The district champion will advance to a state semifinal March 13.

“I don’t know if it’s one particular thing, but we’ve been able to build as a team,” Robins said. “Maybe last year we peaked too soon but this year, I feel like we’re peaking at the right time.”

Upper Arlington's Isa DiBenedetto finished third at 116 pounds in the girls state wrestling tournament Feb. 20 at Hilliard Davidson, going 3-1 after earning a runner-up finish in the same weight class last year.

DiBenedetto places

third at state

Girls wrestler Isa DiBenedetto finished her high school career by placing third at 116 pounds in the state tournament Feb. 20 at Hilliard Davidson, going 3-1 after earning a runner-up finish in the same class last year.

DiBenedetto pinned Cincinnati Colerain’s Bailey Brewer in 1 minute, 10 seconds in the first round and defeated Springfield Greenon’s Caitlin Reither 7-2 before being pinned in 5:01 by London’s Grace Jones in a semifinal.

DiBenedetto rebounded to defeat Youngstown Boardman’s Lexi Beadle 13-7 in the third-place match.

Unlike last year, a district tournament preceded state. That was held Feb. 13 and 14 at Orange, and DiBenedetto finished first.

“There definitely was a lot more competition this year, and a lot more girls came out to give it a try,” DiBenedetto said. “I was happy with how I wrestled. I came out with more confidence and more aggression and I was ready to take on the competition.”

Gymnasts finish

third at league meet

Mia Tzagournis’ third-place finish on balance beam (8.525) paced the gymnastics team in the OCC-Central Division meet Feb. 20 at Thomas, leading UA to third place as a team and a tie for second in the final league standings.

Tzagournis also was fifth on floor exercise (9.05), seventh on uneven bars (7.85) and vault (8.125) and fourth in the all-around (33.55). Amelia Pearson was fourth on bars (8.45) and sixth on floor (9.0).

UA scored 131.85 points in the league meet to finish behind Dublin Coffman (137.275) and Hilliard Bradley (133.375) and ahead of Orange (129.1), Grove City (122.2), Westerville Central (114.175) and Westland (59.225).

That gave the Bears 18 points for the season along with a 4-1 record in league duals, tying them for second place in points with Bradley (3-2) behind Coffman (24, 4-0).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave