After opening the new year with a split series last week against No. 4 Penn State, and cracking the top 10 in the USCHO.com rankings, the 10th-ranked Ohio State men’s hockey team (10-4-4) is set for two nonconference meetings against Arizona State (6-13-0) on Friday and Saturday.
The Sun Devils’ hockey program is in just its second year of existence, but has performed well against good opponents. With the Sun Devils facing another top-10 opponents this weekend, OSU coach Steve Rohlik said that win or lose for Arizona State, the Sun Devils impact may be bigger off the ice.
“I think it’s really important what they’re doing. They’re the face of expansion,” Rohlik said. “It could be the door out West, and I think all of us in college hockey are hoping for their success because we love to see this game grow.”
The Sun Devils are fresh off three straight losses to ranked opponents, including being swept by No. 1 Denver last weekend. Coach Greg Powers’ squad is allowing an average of four goals per game this season, and has been outscored by its opponents 84-47 in 19 games.
Despite that, Rohlik said ASU is a quality opponent, and he anticipates two tough games.
“I know they work extremely hard, are well-coached. They just started Division I, but they’ve played some awfully good teams pretty darn well,” he said. “They’ve won some games, and I’m impressed with what they’re doing on tape.”
Freshman forward Tanner Laczynski returns to the Buckeyes following his appearance with the United States hockey junior team for the World Junior Championships in Canada, where the Stars and Stripes defeated the hosts in the gold medal match in a shootout, 5-4.
Headed into the matchup with the Sun Devils, Laczynski said being a newcomer makes them an unfamiliar opponent, but added that he expects them to come ready to work.
“They’re going to try to get in the Big Ten in the next couple years, so this is a big game for them,” he said. “They’re going to be ready to play, and we can’t take them lightly. So we’ve got to be ready, just like every game, and play a full 60 minutes both games.”
Puck drop at the Schottenstein Center is set for 7 p.m. Friday night, and 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.