Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
It’s all business this weekend for the Ohio State men’s hockey team.
The No. 3 seed Buckeyes are set to make the trip to Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, better known as “The Joe,” Saturday when they take on No. 2 seed Notre Dame (23-12-3, 17-8-3-2 CCHA) in the semifinals of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association tournament.
Many of the Buckeyes have never been to Detroit, but coach Mark Osiecki said the team is looking forward to the “businesslike trip.”
“We have a task at hand,” Osiecki said. “You do have to enjoy it a bit, but we have to go in there all businesslike and have the right mentality to get the job done.”
The last time OSU made it to the semifinals was in 2005.
OSU (16-16-7, 13-10-5-1 CCHA) earned its trip to “The Joe” after defeating Ferris State in a best-of-three series last weekend. Ferris State won the first game, 4-2, before the Buckeyes tied the series with a 3-1 victory in game two and then clinched the series with a 3-2 win Sunday. Senior goalie Brady Hjelle said the team showed a lot of character last weekend in rallying to grab the series against the Bulldogs.
“We’re going to be one-and-done from here on out so it was good to be in that situation,” Hjelle said. “I think we responded really well and showed character.”
Hjelle recorded a career-high 47 saves against Ferris State last Sunday.
Sophomore forward Max McCormick said Hjelle’s success isn’t surprising given how hard the goalie plays in every game.
“He makes saves that make you just wonder, ‘How did he do that?’ and saves that he shouldn’t make because he never gives up on a play,” McCormick said.
When the Buckeyes met the then-No. 9-ranked Fighting Irish back in February, OSU earned four points in the CCHA standings. The Buckeyes won the opener, 6-3, tying a team season-high for goals scored in a game. The two teams played to a 2-2 overtime tie in the next game, with Notre Dame winning the shootout.
Hjelle said the team needs to use that earlier season success to their advantage.
“We can’t just sit back and hope that things happen,” Hjelle said. “We have to go up there and make things happen like we did in the last series with them.”
McCormick said winning at this point in the season takes a little something extra.
“It takes heart. I mean, it’s the playoffs for a reason,” McCormick said. “It comes down to who wants it more, who’s willing to get in front and block that shot, who’s willing to crash the net, who’s willing to win the battles. You just gotta play with your heart, compete, and want it more.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on Notre Dame at 1:05 p.m. Saturday. With a win they will play the winner of the other semifinal game between No. 1 seed Miami and No. 4 seed Michigan at 2:05 p.m. Sunday.