Cody Cousino / Photo editor
A long road trip can be boring, uncomfortable and emotionally and physically draining, but it might be just what the Ohio State men’s ice hockey team needs.
The No. 6-ranked Buckeyes will take a roughly 500-mile bus ride to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to play Lake Superior State in a two-game series starting Friday. OSU (14-7-4, 10-6-4-1) is winless in its last six games, and playing on the road in the CCHA can be a daunting task. However, getting away from Columbus to play the Lakers (13-11-4, 8-9-3-3) could put the Buckeyes back in the win column.
“I think right now, we need a trip like this,” said OSU junior defenseman Devon Krogh. “It’s great team bonding, to get away from Columbus, focus all on hockey and turn this funk we have going on right now around.”
OSU has seen its lead in the CCHA, which was seven points in early January, drop to two points during the skid, but coach Mark Osiecki said he thinks the trek up to northern Michigan could get the Buckeyes back on track.
“To have 22 players jump on a bus and have all external distractions away, and be able to put that away and just focus on hockey, 22 guys can somewhat rally around each other and move forward,” Osiecki said.
The Buckeyes will look to move forward against a team they have already beaten twice this season. OSU and LSSU played on Dec. 2 and 3 in Columbus. OSU won both games, 5-2, and 2-1, respectively. The two wins were the team’s eighth and ninth in a row at the time.
In order to win this weekend, Osiecki said the mistakes his team has been making during the winless streak, such as poor line shifts and giving up easy goals, need to be corrected.
“The good thing about them is that they’re really fixable,” Krogh said.
Krogh helps lead a Buckeye defense that has given up 15 goals in the past four games. OSU has been struggling on the offensive end of the ice as well, scoring seven goals in that four-game span. Krogh said he thinks better defense this weekend could lead to more offense.
“Offensively, we’re obviously not as hot as we were, so we need to tighten up defensively,” he said.
Strong offensive and defensive play could allow the Buckeyes to take an early lead against the Lakers, something OSU hasn’t done much lately. The last time OSU held a first-period lead was on Dec. 2 against Lake Superior State.
“We’ve talked about the first punch and I think we want to go into this weekend and have a good start and hopefully pop the first one,” said freshman forward Max McCormick.
“It’s not fun to play from behind,” he said. “We always talk about having a first-punch mentality, trying to get off to a good start, and it’s something we have to work on. Obviously, it’s nice to get up and play with a lead. It’s all about turning things around right now.”
OSU will try to turn things around starting Friday in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. at 7:05 p.m., and again at the same time Saturday.