Clair DeGeorge

Anchorage’s Clair DeGeorge didn’t suddenly get very good at hockey. She’s always been very good. It’s just that, well, the fifth-year transfer plays for a much better college team now, which makes her a much more dangerous, and productive, player.

This weekend furnished ample evidence. DeGeorge, Ohio State’s senior center, erupted for three goals and four assists in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series sweep of Minnesota State-Mankato. Friday’s 6-3 win and Saturday’s 9-0 shelling extended the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes’ winning streak to six games.

DeGeorge’s scoring binge gives her 100 career points. She owns 8-13—21 totals in 14 games this season. Combined with her 28-51—79 totals in 128 career games over four seasons at Bemidji State of the WCHA, DeGeorge owns 36-64—100 totals in 142 career games.

That makes DeGeorge the fourth Alaskan woman to break the 100-point barrier.

She’s on Alaska’s Mount Rushmore of women’s scorers with Fairbanks’ Ambria Thomas (201 points, Minnesota, 1997-2001), Fairbanks’ Kim Haman (146, Northeastern, 1991-95) and Palmer’s Kerry Weiland (124, Wisconsin, 1999-2003).

DeGeorge this weekend broke out of a tie with Anchorage’s Zoe Hickel (93, Minnesota-Duluth, 2011-15; also current Ohio State assistant coach) for No. 5 on Alaska’s college scoring list for women. She also blew past previous No. 4 Dayna Colang of Fairbanks (97, Vermont 2012-16).

DeGeorge in her personal six-game point streak has racked 5-10—15 totals.

With eight goals, she is just one shy of tying her career high for goals in a season. She had nine as a Bemidji sophomore. With 13 assists, she is just three shy of tying her career high of 16 as a freshman. And her 21 points are just two shy of her career high of 23 as a freshman. The Buckeyes have 18 regular season games left.

DeGeorge on Friday went off for one goal and three assists. She registered those points on four straight goals. Saturday, she delivered two goals and one assist. She fired nine shots on the weekend and went plus-6.

What has sparked DeGeorge’s career season? Most likely, experience and environment.

As a fifth-year senior – DeGeorge was afforded a transfer season because the NCAA granted players another year of eligibility due to the pandemic – the 22-year-old is likely physically and emotionally stronger than ever, and likely wilier too.

Plus, Ohio State is really good – 12-2-0. Both their losses were essentially one goals losses – 3-1 on an empty-net goal and 2-1 in overtime – at No. 1-ranked Wisconsin. Ohio State’s .857 winning percentage is more than twice as good as the .397 (47-74-10) winning percentage Bemidji compiled in DeGeorge’s four seasons.

All that probably best explains how DeGeorge went minus-20 in 20 games last season for 2-16-2 Bemidji and this season is plus-16 in 14 games with 12-2-0 Ohio State.

On the goal front, DeGeorge’s stat-stamping season has no doubt been helped by better talent surrounding her, but also by a massively pumped-up shooting percentage. DeGeorge’s career shooting percentage at Bemidji was 9.6 percent (28 goals on 292 shots). She’s currently sitting on 23.5 percent (eight goals on 34 shots). She probably enjoys more high-danger scoring chances playing with better players. Still, 23.5 percent is difficult to sustain.

DeGeorge’s 1.50 points per game this season is more than double her previous high of .63 points per game as a junior.

The numbers peg this as a breakout season for Clair DeGeorge, and it feels that way. Still, there’s another way of looking at it: She’s a very good hockey player who is finally playing for a very good team.