After 142 games, the Ohio State men’s hockey senior class is set for one last series at the Schottenstein Center.
The Buckeyes are set to honor eight seniors on Saturday night — forwards Tanner Fritz, Matt Johnson, Darik Angeli, Chad Niddery and Nick Oddo and defensemen Al McLean, Justin DaSilva and Clark Cristofoli — as they play in their final collegiate home game.
“They are what an Ohio State Buckeye is,” coach Steve Rohlik said. “All eight of these guys have brought different things to the table, on the ice, off the ice and in the classroom.”
Former Buckeye and current Binghamton Senator in the AHL Ryan Dzingel sang his praises for his former teammates as well.
“This senior class is a group filled with character,” Dzingel said in an email.
The class has played a big role in leadership for the Buckeyes. This season, the seniors have become the leading offensive unit, scoring 33 of the Buckeyes’ 84 goals. They also showed their ability on the defensive side, blocking 192 of OSU’s 493 total blocked shots.
“These guys are always that group that’s there for you, no matter what,” junior forward Anthony Greco said. “Each player brings a different element to our game. Johnson and Niddery are hardworking and give their all every day at the rink. We will also miss the skill that Fritz, Oddo and Angeli have. They are all going to be missed and it’s going to be tough to find guys that are able to fill those holes.”
This weekend’s last home series against the Minnesota Golden Gophers is a time for the seniors to express gratitude and appreciation for OSU and their teammates.
“This experience has meant absolutely everything to me,” DaSilva said in an email. “I’m proud that I was able to play hockey for the Ohio State University and be a part of this community.”
DaSilva said the reality of his OSU career winding down hasn’t hit just yet.
“I don’t think the feeling will come till Saturday night,” he said. “When we walk out of the locker for the last time, that’s when all emotions will come.”
Oddo added that he has some mixed emotions as senior night approaches.
“It’s exciting and sad kind of at the same time, it’s the last time we will be here playing in front of our home fans, it’s kind of bittersweet,” Oddo said.
Rohlik said it will be an emotional weekend for the seniors, but added that’s not necessarily a negative.
“I feel like this emotion can be seen in a positive way too, because I think there is a lot of guys in this room that want to send them (the seniors) off on the right note,” Rohlik said.
Greco said the loss of this year’s seniors is especially hard.
“They have been great, this senior class is kind of my core group of buddies on the team. These were the guys that directed me and helped me when I came in. I’ve grown to be close with all of them and it’s going to be sad to see them leave,” Greco said.
For OSU, the season is far from over with the thought of the Big Ten Tournament on the horizon.
After achieving their first series sweep against the Penn State Nittany Lions last weekend, the Buckeyes are looking to build upon that momentum with just two series to play before the postseason, Oddo said.
“We dealt with a lot of different things, going through injuries, traveling, different elements like that,” he said. “So coming back here with a full healthy roster, we have the ability to be successful.”
The Buckeyes are set to take on the No. 15 Golden Gophers Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.