Abby Sweet / Lantern photographer
The Ohio State men’s ice hockey team hasn’t won in eight games, but coach Mark Osiecki said he remains, for the most part, pleased with how his team has been playing.
“Four of our past six games we’ve played extremely well,” Osiecki said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have much to show for it. The guys feel it. They know they played well at (Lake Superior State), sometimes it just doesn’t fall your way.”
The No. 10-ranked Buckeyes (14-8-5, 10-7-5-1 CCHA) are coming off a 4-4 tie and 1-0 loss to Lake Superior State. OSU, 0-4-4 in its past eight games and tied for second in the conference after holding a seven-point lead at the beginning of January, will host Michigan State (13-11-4, 8-9-3-2 CCHA) in a two-game series starting Friday.
Osiecki said even though his team is winless this calendar year, the fact that OSU has still gotten points (four in eight games) to stay in the thick of the conference title race is a plus.
“Not having the wins fall and the way we’ve played, we’ve at least picked up a few points,” he said. “Those go a long ways moving forward. You can’t play like we did at (Lake Superior State) and not have success at some point.”
Senior forward Cory Schneider said the team’s attitude remains positive, but that it can be aggravating when the pucks don’t bounce OSU’s way.
“It’s definitely a little frustrating,” he said. “But at the same time, (trying to end the winless streak) is something that keeps us going.”
The Buckeyes will look to end their recent struggles against a Michigan State team that was swept last weekend by No. 6 Ferris State. The Spartans are currently in eighth place in the CCHA. OSU and MSU split a two-game series in East Lansing, Mich., the last time they faced off in October.
The Spartans post one of the nation’s best penalty-kill units, only allowing opposing team’s to convert on the power play 11.4 percent of the time. Converting on power plays is something that OSU has struggled to do lately in their losses. The Buckeyes are a combined 1-13 on the power play in their previous two losses to Lake Superior and Ferris State, which included multiple failed 5-on-3 advantages.
Osiecki said the key to having success on the 5-on-3 power play is to have solid control of the puck.
“For us, on the 5-on-3, we have to take care of the puck and have confidence going into it,” he said.
OSU freshman forward Max McCormick said focusing on the finer aspects of the game, like blocking shots and the penalty kill, will be key this weekend.
“I don’t think we’ve been as crisp as we have,” he said. “We’ve been working on it in practice and I think we’ll be ready to go (this weekend).”
The Buckeyes and Spartans will drop the puck on Friday at 7:05 p.m. at The Schottenstein Center and play again at the same time Saturday night.