Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
The Ohio State men’s ice hockey team has punched its ticket to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament Quarterfinal Round for the first time since 2010. This year’s Buckeyes have an opportunity that last year’s squad did not: hosting the best-of-three series.
With one weekend left in CCHA play, OSU sits tied for fourth with Ferris State in the 11-team conference. Both teams haven’t been able to catch up to third-place Notre Dame or be caught by any of the teams below them in the standings.
With the current CCHA Tournament format, the fourth seed will host the fifth seed following a first-round bye for each. OSU is guaranteed to face Ferris State in the quarterfinals, but the location of the matchup is still undetermined.
Ferris State will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., this weekend to face Michigan. The ninth-place Wolverines will be a formidable test, having won four of their last six games. The Buckeyes themselves can attest to that.
Coach Red Berenson said his hot-of-late squad’s two-game sweep of OSU over the weekend was “probably the best weekend of hockey Michigan has played all year.”
In a CCHA series earlier this season, Ferris State defeated Michigan in the series opener before playing to a tie in game two.
While the Bulldogs battle the Wolverines, OSU will have its own hands full on the road against first-place Miami (Ohio). The Buckeyes are winless in three games against the Redhawks this season.
If OSU can earn more points this weekend than Ferris State, the Buckeyes will host the playoff series set to begin March 15. Failure to do so may result in a return trip to Big Rapids, Mich., where the teams split two games in January.
If the teams remain in a tie after play concludes on Saturday, a tiebreaker will be implemented to determine which will be the fourth seed. The first tiebreaker is conference wins. Ferris State (13) currently holds a one-game advantage on OSU (12) in that category. If OSU goes 1-1 this weekend and Ferris State goes 0-0-2-1, the teams will be tied in both the standings and conference wins. Tiebreakers two (head-to-head record) and three (head-to-head goals for and against) would not break the tie on account of the teams’ series split when each won a game, 3-1.
In the event of this scenario, the fourth tiebreaker will be used which is “best winning percentage of the (teams tied) against the remaining highest-ranked CCHA teams,” according to the CCHA website.
Not surprisingly, the Buckeyes want to host the postseason series. OSU junior defenseman Curtis Gedig said he loves playing at home in the Schottenstein Center.
“Guys are a lot more positive in a way. We don’t have to worry about catching up on school because we’re traveling,” Gedig said.
But for now, coach Mark Osiecki said he wants his players to focus solely on Friday night’s game against Miami and forget about being swept by Michigan.
“You’ve got to turn the page. You’ve got to have a quick memory, that’s the best thing in sport,” Osiecki said following Saturday’s loss. “Understand what you did and move on.”
The series opener will be played Friday at 7:35 p.m. in Oxford, Ohio.