Jan. 17, 2010
By Larry Watts
If your name is Hokey and you want to play a competitive sport, what else could it be other than hockey? So Hokey Hockey has been a perfect fit in Columbus as the Ohio State Buckeyes try to turn around last year's 8-25-3 campaign.
Hokey Langan has been fire on ice for the Buckeyes from the get-go. Together on the front line with fellow Canadians Laura McIntosh (Waterloo, Ontario) and Raelyn LaRocue (The Pas, Manitoba), they have been lighting the lamp at an incredible pace.
And Langan has been the most productive of all. Through the first 24 games, the rookie right winger from Chatham, Ontario had already collected 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists), which not only is 2nd in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association but also is among the freshmen leaders in the latest NCAA statistics.
Her given name is Casandra, but even Langan admits she rarely gives anyone the time of day if they call her that. The only time she uses Casandra is for official documents.
"I wasn't given a name when I was born and a couple of days later, when my uncle walked into the room, he said 'That's a Hokey Dawn!"' she says. "The Dawn part didn't stick, but the Hokey did. I have no clue what it means, it's just what he said."
And Hokey Hockey is catching on at Ohio State. "I get that a lot around here," she says.
Although Canada has always had standout hockey development programs for women, Langan says it has been her dream to play for an American university.
"We have a lot of women coming down here to play and I was told the hockey down here was a lot better than it is in Canada," she says. "So I always dreamed about getting a scholarship and playing in the United States."
Langan visited Boston University and Ohio State, but when it came time to make her final decision it was between the Buckeyes and powerful Minnesota Duluth. Ohio State won out mainly because the drive time between Chatham and Columbus was nearly half that of the trip to Duluth.
"I'm very close to my family and I want them to see me play," she says. "They can make it to all my home games and a few of the closer ones to Chatham. Plus, the coaching staff at Ohio State is incredible and I knew I was going to learn so much while I was here."
It probably didn't hurt the Buckeyes any that they took her to the Michigan football game on her recruiting visit.
"I really lucked out there," she says. "I can't even begin to explain what that was like. I didn't know what to expect when I went into the stadium and then to see all those people in front of me. That was the biggest crowd I have ever been around, no doubt. You couldn't even hear the person next to you when they were talking.
"That game really sold me on the school spirit at Ohio State. Everyone is so respectful of the athletes around here and we are all treated like gold."
Langan began ice-skating when she was 2 and her parents entered her into the Tiny Tots hockey program one year later. Her resume includes a silver medal while skating for Team Canada at the 2009 IIHF World Women's Under-18 Championships in Fussen, Germany and a pair of gold medals while playing for Team Ontario Red at the 2007 and '08 Canadian Under-18 National Championships. For the past two years, she has been skating for the London Jr. Devilettes in the Provincial Women's Hockey League.
"The World Championships is the biggest tournament I have ever been in in my life," she says. "We lost to the U.S. in overtime (3-2), but it has always been my dream to represent my country and having that opportunity was the time of my life.
"I think all the girls who come to United States to play have the ultimate dream of playing for our national team. We're here trying to get better and hopefully some day I can be a member of our Olympic team."
Langan says the biggest reasons the United States and Canada have been able to establish themselves as the elite women's hockey programs is simply the size of the countries and their closeness to each other.
"These are two big countries and they are developing so many skilled players," she says. "We all have a lot of respect for each other."
According to Langan, the toughest obstacle she has had to overcome at Ohio State is learning to be independent.
"Like I said, I am very close to my family and I wasn't used to being on my own," she says. "It's a totally different lifestyle and hockey really keeps me busy, so I have to make sure I am very organized and get my schoolwork done.
"The seniors on this team have been great and have been very helpful to the younger girls. They want to make sure you have a good time and fit in. Even with school problems, they are always there to help out. You learn so much from them in the way they are respectful of everyone."
Langan has chosen sports leisure as her major. "Hopefully I can go into coaching and scouting," she says. "I can also change my track and become a physical education teacher, but my first priority is coaching and scouting. We'll just see how it goes after a couple of years."
On the ice, she admits to being a little surprised to be the team's leading scorer at this point, especially since McIntosh, a sophomore, was the team's leader last year.
"We are all passers first," she says of the Canadian line. "We're all the same type of players and have a great connection on the ice since we read each other so well. The scoring has been easier for me because Laura and Rocky know how to set me up with such great passes."
But can the Buckeyes break into the powerful grip Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth and Wisconsin have held over the WCHA?
"I think we'll surprise a lot of people," Langan says. "We had a lot of good freshmen playing last year and we're really clicking and dedicated to playing well. It's all coming around and I think one weekend sweep can put you right back into the mix. You just have to come ready to play."
And Langan is always ready to play.