The Ohio State men’s hockey team opens its 2013-2014 regular season Friday, taking on Miami (Ohio) in a home-and-home series.
Coming off a 9-1 victory over the University of Toronto Varsity Blues in an exhibition game last Saturday, the Buckeyes (16-17-7 in 2012-13) are looking to start the regular season strong against the No. 2-ranked Redhawks.
This will be the Buckeyes’ first regular season game under coach Steve Rohlik, who took over as head coach in April for Mark Osiecki, who was let go after three seasons at the helm. Rohlik said he believes the team’s depth will be advantageous as it plays Miami.
“I think we’ve got a lot of guys that can play and contribute, and I think we’ve got to use that to our advantage,” Rohlik said. “We’re not going to depend on one guy all night long or two guys. We’re going to have to play four lines in 60 (minutes) every night, and I think hopefully we can wear teams down.”
Senior forward Alex Szczechura said he knows that although the series is non-conference, it still holds as much weight as any Big Ten matchup.
“Miami’s a huge rival — they always will be at Ohio State,” Szczechura said. “We’re going to go into this game the same way we always have.”
This will be the first season OSU will compete as part of the brand new Big Ten Conference in men’s ice hockey. Previously, the Buckeyes were members of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. The current six-team Big Ten Conference includes OSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State and Wisconsin.
“With football and basketball — they’re in the Big Ten Conference — now they ask you what league you play in, you can say, ‘We play in the Big Ten,’ and it definitely give us a little more publicity,” Szczechura said.
Coach Rohlik added that even though OSU will compete as a member of the Big Ten now, it won’t have any bearing on the Buckeyes’ mentality as they take on Miami.
“All the leagues have shaken up a little bit here,” Rohlik said. “More importantly, for us, we know we’re playing Miami — it’s right down the road, they’ve got a great program and we’ve had pretty good battles with them over the last few years — and I think more important than what league is versus what, it’s us versus Miami.”
Senior forward Travis Statchuk said the team is ready to embrace the changes it has faced — being a part of the newly formed Big Ten Conference, having a new head coach and new additions to the team — and take them head-on.
“Obviously, a lot of things went down this year,” Statchuk said. “I think just a whole new league, new staff, new team. Obviously, we’re just really excited to get going.”
The teams will face off in the Schottenstein Center Friday and in Oxford Saturday. The puck is set to drop at 7:05 p.m. for both games.
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