Cody Cousino / Photo editor
After a meteoric rise from being unranked at the start of the season, to becoming No. 2 in the country at the beginning of January, the Ohio State men’s hockey team has struggled over the past two weekends of play.
OSU (14-6-3, 10-5-3-1), now No. 5 in the United State College Hockey Organization poll, is on a four-game winless streak and will host No. 13 Ferris State (14-8-2, 8-6-2-0) in a two-game series starting Friday in Columbus.
The Buckeyes suffered back-to-back losses to No. 10 Michigan this past weekend following consecutive ties to Bowling Green the weekend prior.
OSU coach Mark Osiecki said his team is looking to get back to their winning ways, but the adversity they are going through is necessary.
“They’ve never been through it,” Osiecki said of the first losing streak endured by OSU this season. “They have to go through it.”
OSU senior forward Danny Dries agreed.
“We have a pretty long season, 35, 40 games. You’re not going to win every one,” Dries said. “It’s inevitable that a rough patch is going to come through.”
Part of the Buckeyes’ recent struggles can be attributed to a lack of goal scoring. During the four-game winless streak, only four OSU shots have found the back of the net. When the team was on a nine-game winning streak that started Oct. 28 and ended Dec. 9, OSU averaged just fewer than four goals per game.
Sophomore forward Chris Crane said the key to the Buckeyes ending their scoring woes is being active on the offensive end of the ice.
“We just need to focus on getting pucks to the net,” Crane said. “I think we’ve been getting away from shooting the puck, even on the power play. (Thursday) in practice we were focusing on just getting shots on net. With goalies in this league, you never know what could happen.”
Dries said he thinks it will only take a few goals for OSU to end its scoring slump.
“I think goal scoring is pretty contagious,” Dries said. “Once we pop a couple hopefully it turns around.”
Ending the scoring struggle could be tough against Ferris State, however.
The Bulldogs’ scoring defense, which only gives up 2.21 goals per game, ranks first in the CCHA.
Osiecki said when he watches Ferris State, he sees a lot of similarities with his own team.
“I think it’s very similar to what we look at everyday — a team that’s very well-coached, plays their system tremendously solid and very stingy defensively,” Osiecki said.
Working together as one unit will be the key to success this weekend.
“If we work as a group of five, we’ll be OK,” Osiecki said.
The Buckeyes and Bulldogs will drop the puck Friday at 7:05 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center, and will play again at the same time Saturday night.