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Ohio State men’s hockey looks to end struggles against Western Michigan

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

The Ohio State men’s ice hockey team ended its double-digit winless streak at Western Michigan with a 3-0 win Nov. 24, 2007. This weekend, OSU will look to repeat the success it had in Kalamazoo, Mich., more than four years ago.

The No. 15-ranked Buckeyes (14-10-5, 10-9-5-1 CCHA), winless in their past 10 games, take on No. 18 WMU (14-11-5, 11-8-3-3 CCHA) in a two-game series starting Friday in Kalamazoo, Mich. OSU’s 0-6-4 record in 2012 has them tied for fourth in the conference after leading the CCHA by seven points in early January.

“We’re trying to build some momentum,” said OSU assistant coach Steve Rohlik. “We’re looking forward to getting up to (Western Michigan) to play a very good hockey team and see what we got in the tank this weekend.”

OSU, which started the year 14-4-1 and ascended to a No. 2 ranking in the country, has only four games remaining in the regular season and is playing its worst hockey of the season during its double-digit winless streak. Rohlik points to a team in another sport as an example of what he hopes will happen with his Buckeyes.

“You look at the New York Giants. They were 7-7. What happened to them? Why were they so different? They go on all of a sudden to win the Super Bowl. Everybody wrote them right off,” he said. “Well, we just had a great start, now we’re going through a struggle here, but we’re going to stick with it and stay positive.”

A reason OSU has been struggling lately has been its lack of scoring on the power play. The Buckeyes were 0-for-14 with a man advantage in two games against Michigan State last weekend, 6-3 and 3-2 losses, respectively. Improving will be no easy task this weekend, as the Broncos post the CCHA’s second-best penalty-kill unit.

Rohlik said the Buckeyes need to keep pushing and eventually, they will have success.

“We can’t change the guys we got in the (locker) room. We’re going to continue to work with the guys,” he said. “We do have some good players. We think we’re going to score some goals (on the power play), it’s just a matter of sticking with it right now.”

One of the lone bright spots for OSU during the winless streak has been its top front line of freshman forwards – Ryan Dzingel, Tanner Fritz and Max McCormick – which has accounted for seven of the Buckeyes’ last nine goals.

Sophomore forward Chris Crane praised the play of the freshman trio.

“Dzingel’s line, they’re great players together. They’ve been solid for us in the past couple weekends,” he said.

Rohlik said in order for OSU to play well this weekend, other lines have to step up and produce.

“For us, we don’t feel that we drop off (after their first line),” he said. “The other lines have to be at least even or chipping in a few (goals).”

Success this weekend is vital, Crane said.

“It’s playoff hockey right now. We’re battling for home ice, home advantage. With four games left in the season, that’s what we have to stay focused on,” he said.

The Buckeyes and Broncos will drop the puck at 7:05 p.m. on Friday in Kalamazoo, Mich., and play again at the same time Saturday.

 

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