From Plano, Texas, to Columbus, Michael Gildon’s hockey journey has been defined by perseverance, overcoming injuries and becoming a team leader.
The 6-foot-2, 196-pound redshirt-senior forward enters the 2023-24 season having played 84 games, recording 21 assists and scoring seven goals in the Buckeye uniform.
Gildon played in all 40 games last season in Ohio State’s campaign that earned it a spot in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals. He had a personal best 12 assists and 15 points over the season.
Ottawa Senators 2022 fourth-round draft pick and teammate Stephen Halliday, who played his freshman season last year with Gildon, said he takes some of Gildon’s habits and puts them into his own practice.
“I love to talk about goal scoring with him because we have different mindsets with goal scoring and I think he’s really good at just telling me, because I’m not the best and he’s a bit better,” Halliday said. “I try to take stuff from his goal scoring and put it into mine in practice.”
Prior to Ohio State, Gildon said he played in the Dallas Stars Elite program and won a gold medal at the U17 World Challenge in 2017 and bronze at the 2018 U18 World Hockey Championship.
After that, he went on to play in the United States Hockey League, a top-level junior ice league. His performance there attracted the likes of Ohio State.
Gildon said the choice to play for Ohio State was a “no-brainer,” with his decision deeply influenced by his connection to his grandfather, Larry Smith.
“My grandpa went to Ohio State, and he taught my brother and I how to play hockey at a young age,” Gildon said.
Before attending Ohio State in 2019, Gildon took part in a New York Rangers development camp in the summer as a free-agent invitee.
During his freshman year at Ohio State, Gildon scored his first collegiate goal on a 5×3 power play versus Michigan on Nov. 2, 2019.
That’s when he faced a season-ending upper body injury that upended what he envisioned for his college career.
Gildon played in just eight games through the 2019-20 season before having to battle his injury. This setback marked a pivotal moment in his early college career, as it halted his on-ice progress.
Despite these obstacles, Gildon’s determination remained steadfast.
“Obviously, it was a setback physically, but mentally I just tried to stay strong and use the support staff around here to help me,” Gildon said.
After recovering from his dual injuries, Gildon made a successful return to the team.
In addition to his on-ice accomplishments, he earned Academic All-Big Ten and Ohio State Scholar-Athlete accolades four years in a row, showcasing his commitment to both his sport and academics.
Halliday said Gildon is a team guy.
“Mike brings a lot of experience — not a lot of guys can play for five years. He’s a really good player and a really good guy,” Halliday, the sophomore forward, said. “He’s always there for all of his teammates too, which is a big thing for me.”
For the upcoming season, Gildon’s mission is clear: win the national championship.
“We just got to put the pieces together and listen to coach Rawls [head coach Steve Rohlik] and there’s no doubt in my mind that we can win the ultimate goal at the end of the year,” Gildon said.
The Buckeyes get their first test on the road when they take on Mercyhurst at 7 p.m., Oct. 7.