Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
The Ohio State men’s hockey team may have found its season captains at last.
Juniors Curtis Gedig and Travis Statchuk and sophomore Ryan Dzingel served as team captains last weekend for the fifth straight series. The contests marked the first games in Columbus since Dec. 15, and the Buckeyes swept the Lake Superior State Lakers to push their record to 10-11-5 overall and 9-6-3-1 in CCHA play.
OSU has been rotating captains for the majority of the season, having different members of the team wear the ‘C’ on their chests essentially every two series. As the second half of the season gets under way and the Buckeyes look to put together a string of victories before the CCHA tournament, coach Mark Osiecki said he is close to deciding which of his players will be captains through the end of the season.
“We’re getting closer to potentially naming permanent captains,” Osiecki said Wednesday. “We are sticking with the three guys we’ve had. I think they’ve earned that right.”
Osiecki also said Gedig, Statchuk and Dzingel have “done a nice job” during their time as captains over the course of January.
Dzingel leads the Buckeyes with 10 goals and is second on the team with 13 assists. Those 23 points lead OSU, which beat Lake Superior State 3-2 on Friday and 6-1 on Saturday. The sophomore forward from Illinois has played in every game this season, and he scored the final goal of the weekend against the Lakers while assisting on two others.
Statchuk was a late scratch to the game Friday night after falling ill in the afternoon. He and Gedig are two of five juniors on coach Osiecki’s team who see considerable playing time.
Statchuk scored his goal of the season against Northern Michigan on Nov. 16, and he is among the team leaders in face-off percentage, having won 43 percent of his 342 attempts. He is tied with Gedig and Dzingel for most games this season serving as captain.
Gedig leads OSU defensemen with seven points and scored his second goal of the season Saturday night against Lake Superior State. The junior from British Columbia said he is happy to finally see some home games on the schedule.
“I love the (Schottenstein Center), love the atmosphere,” Gedig said. “It’s good because we don’t have to worry about catching up on school because we are traveling.”
Osiecki said he feels confident that the leaders on the team will begin to solidify themselves during this upcoming stretch of games, six of which OSU will play at the Schottenstein Center.
“We’re getting closer to having some leaders step up in that (locker) room and we’ve talked about that since day one,” Osiecki said. “Guys need to understand that everyone can be a leader in their own way. That’s starting to emerge a little bit better as we move forward.”
Gedig said the team needs to come in with the mindset that “it’s already playoffs” and that they are “so close” to breaking out offensively. The Buckeyes’ nine goals against the Lakers over the weekend were tied for the most they had scored in a series all season.
Junior forward Alex Szczechura scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season less than four minutes apart on Saturday. He said scoring that many goals will help the team’s confidence for the rest of the season.
“We haven’t been the highest scoring team, but this weekend goals were coming all night,” Szczechura said. “So that’s definitely a confidence booster for us.”
The effort, Osiecki said, has been there all season, though.
“I think our guys have had the right attitude all the way through,” Osiecki said. “We haven’t had to say much during practice, trying to ask them to bring up the level of competitiveness.”
Captains for the upcoming weekend series against Notre Dame will be released Wednesday. The Buckeyes are set to host the Fighting Irish at 7:05 p.m. on Friday at the Schottenstein Center.