Jenna Buglioni isn’t letting things like daily COVID-19 tests and online classes at Ohio State University distract from her drive to push the Buckeyes women’s hockey team to defend its Western Collegiate Hockey Association championship.
Buglioni scored six points in a pair of wins over the Bemijdi State Beavers last weekend, including two goals and a pair of assists in Ohio States' 4-1 victory on New Years Day. She then followed that up with a goal and an assist in the Buckeyes’ 7-1 win on Jan. 2.
The Gleneagle secondary grad now leads all Ohio State scorers with seven points in six games.
The Buckeyes have four wins and two losses in a season that was delayed by almost two months and already had several games postponed because of COVID outbreaks. In fact, the campaign has been so tenuous, the schedule for its nine-week second half was only announced just before Christmas, and a plan for the post-season is still up in the air.
Buglioni said she tries not to think of those complications to her freshman experience. She’s been making good of unexpected downtime to get stronger in the gym and concentrate on her studies in Sports Industry.
“Our coaches did a very good job of keeping us engaged, positive and determined by finding new drills and team activities,” she said, adding the group’s tight-knit culture maintains everyone’s excitement about going to the rink even when there’s no games.
Buglioni, whose first NCAA goal was a game-winner in a 3-2 victory over the top-ranked Wisconsin Badgers last Nov. 27, said even with the limited competition, the step up from playing Midget AAA with the Greater Vancouver Comets and Canada’s national U18 team has been apparent.
“The level of skill was definitely better than I was used to playing, and the pace of the game is fast,” she said. “The time and space with the puck is less that I have had in my previous years of playing.”
So far, Buglioni’s been making that adjustment from the wing on the Buckeyes’ second line. She’s also killing penalties and getting some time on the power play.
Buglioni said her goal against Wisconsin was a breakthrough moment that affirmed her ability to compete at the highest levels.
“It was very exciting and it felt nice to get the monkey off my back,” she said. “I felt like I had worked really hard in the off-season and as we prepared for the season, so it felt nice to have that puck go in especially against the top-seed team in the country.”
Buglioni said without the rigorous demands of playing games every weekend, she’s been able to settle into a familiar routine that’s made it easier to navigate other challenges like online learning and her course workload. Her day usually starts with a COVID test before breakfast, then one or two classes as well as homework before she heads to the gym and rink for workouts and practices from 2 to 5:30 in the afternoon. Then it’s back to the dorm nearby, where she shares a room with another freshman teammate.
Buglioni said while health and safety protocols as well as online classes have kept campus life fairly quiet, she’s still been able to absorb the atmosphere of America’s fifth-largest university that is normally populated by almost 60,000 students.
“The campus is beautiful and everyone has a lot of pride in our university and our athletics,” she said. “There is a lot of tradition in our university and even though there is different protocols, that culture is still there.”
One highly-anticipated aspect of campus life, the annual Michigan vs. Ohio State football game, was notably absent after their Dec. 12 contest was cancelled because of a COVID-19 outbreak on the Wolverines’ team. The rivalry, which normally electrifies the city of Columbus and overflows the 102,000-seat Ohio Stadium, would have had added resonance to Buglioni, as one of her childhood teammates playing Atom hockey in Port Moody was Kent Johnson, who’s now a freshman for the Wolverines hockey team.
“Kent has always been a very talented player,” she said. “I’m hoping that I can keep the ball rolling.”