Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
The Ohio State men’s ice hockey team finally has its first home game, after six straight road contests this season.
The Buckeyes (2-2-2) are slated to face Alaska (4-3-1 ) Friday at the Schottenstein Center, and the team seems nothing short of excited to be back in its home rink.
“It’s going to be great, we’ve finally been getting to practice here so that’s great. I know the guys are really excited,” said sophomore forward Matt Johnson. “It’s going to be great for the freshmen since they haven’t experienced it yet, but we really like playing in this place.”
Being back in the familiar atmosphere is reassuring to not only the players but also to coach Mark Osiecki, who is returning for his third season at OSU.
“What’s really nice is being in this building is that the goaltenders can get used to the lights and the background,” Osiecki said. “Also, just to make use of practice time.”
Despite the usual practices in OSU’s Ice Rink, located off Woody Hayes Drive, the team has had the entire week to practice on the ice inside the Schottenstein Center, getting itself prepared for this weekend.
“We’ve been out here the whole week, the more we practice the more we get used to it,” Johnson said. “It’s really one of my favorite rinks I’ve ever gotten to play in, I love it.”
Preparing in the right environment isn’t Osiecki’s only concern though, as the Buckeyes might need to overcome the wear and tear of having played on the road most of October.
“It’s been a long time and I think it’s really taken its toll on our bodies a little bit,” Osiecki said. “We were really banged up and it was nice to have a break last weekend and find a way to get our bodies healed up.”
Not to mention, the team hasn’t named any captains yet for the season.
“It’s not even the guys that have worn a letter on their sweater,” Osiecki said. “The guys are stepping up and being leaders in different ways.”
Sophomore forward Ryan Dzingel said he has faith that whomever Osiecki decides is best to fill the leadership role will serve it well.
Dzingel also said everyone is stepping up, including returning players and new freshmen.
“I think Friday will be the start of something really good,” Dzingel said, “and I think you don’t even need a ‘C’ (on your jersey) to be a captain.”
The Buckeyes are set to play Alaska Friday and Saturday at 7:05pm at the Schottenstein Center.