In the middle of the rink, on the freshly shaved ice, is where you’ll find the strongman Icemen center at the start.
The puck’s dropped, and he’s the one battling for possession with every slap of his battled-tested stick.
Once control is established, he covers every inch of the ice, ready to take on any opposition — offense or defense.
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Today, eleven years on the ice have led up to the biggest moment in Christian Corbin’s athletics career.
The Columbus Icemen club hockey team, who are 20-23-5, will play for the Class 3A state hockey title at 3 p.m. today at the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds.
Corbin is the only member of the Columbus-based team from Seymour.
On their road to the finals, the Icemen have shut out their first three opponents in postseason play.
The Icemen entered the 3A tourney as the lowest-seed, and upset No. 1 Evansville 2-0 and beat Lakeshore St. Joe 1-0 and Adams-Marian 4-0 last week to punch a ticket to the finals .
In their first game of the tourney, against Adams-Marian, Corbin netted his sole goal of the tournament.
This season, Corbin has combined for 25 points off 10 goals and 15 assists.
“(Corbin) is in a critical role for us,” first-year Icemen coach Andy Cesarski said. “He’s one of our top guys and is good on both ends of the ice. He plays a critical role on the power plays. He’s close to 6-2 and 180 pounds, at that size he’s tough to defend. We often match him up against their best offensive players.”
Corbin prides himself on playing on both sides of the puck, and thinks of himself as a two-way forward that can be depended on for scoring and slowing the attack. He often acts as the third defenseman.
“It’s always fun to score goals and make plays offensively,” Corbin said. “You have to get back and do your part defensively, too. That’s why I like playing center, you get to do both. If I had to choose, I would say I prefer offensive.”
For a majority of his career, Corbin played hockey in Fishers.
In the final year of his four-year high school hockey career Corbin joined the Icemen.
“There’s a lot more competition (in Columbus), people care a lot more about hockey down here,” Corbin said. “There’s a lot of support from the town. I hadn’t seen as much support from the community before.”
On Jan. 16, the Iceman lost to Penn (21-15-6), 5-4, during a crossover game in Fishers.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Cesarski said. “Penn is playing well, like us, right now. I expect us to continue what we did last weekend. We played very well as a team on defense. We didn’t allow a goal all weekend. Just enough scoring to win a game. (Corbin) is a key player in all of that. He will get lots of ice time and will be called upon.”
For Corbin, ending high school hockey in the state finals is where he always wanted to be.
“I started playing hockey was when I was 11 years old,” Corbin said. “I started watching it on TV and my dad played when he was younger. I thought what I saw was cool on TV and wanted to try it. It’s the best sport in the world.”
The past three years the Iceman have played in the Class 5A state championship. This year, after losing 11 seniors, the Iceman rebuilt their team before making the 3A tourney.
Prior to the postseason, the top-four of the 32 teams play in the 5A. Classes 4A and 3A both have the next-best eight teams, and the final 16 teams are split into Class 2A and 3A.
While a majority of the team is from Columbus’ school system, players from Brown County, Hauser, Indian Creek and elsewhere in the state also take the ice in the Icemen uniform.
With just four seniors on the team, the Iceman will rely on their upperclassmen’s leadership in their final game.
Last season, Corbin acted as a captain at Fishers. He knows what it takes to lead a team.
“Personally, I expect to play well,” Corbin said. “I’ve been practicing for a vast majority my life for a moment like this.”
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“I’ve been practicing for a vast majority my life for a moment like this.”