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Men’s Hockey: No. 8 Buckeyes look to “take care of business” during conference series with Wisconsin

OSU sophomore forward Brendon Kearney (25) carries the puck during the Buckeyes’ game against ASU on Jan. 14. Credit: Courtesy of OSU Athletics

Fresh off an unbeaten weekend on the road at No. 4 Penn State, the Ohio State men’s hockey (12-4-6, 3-2-1-1) returns to the Schottenstein Center Thursday night for a clash with Wisconsin, before both teams travel to New York City to play Saturday’s series finale at Madison Square Garden.

The Badgers (11-8-1, 4-2-0-0) arrive to the matchup as the No. 6 offense in the nation at more than three goals per game, and sit one point ahead of the Buckeyes in the Big Ten standings. Coach Tony Granato’s squad is led by sophomore forward Luke Kunin and senior forward Grant Besse, who each have 22 points on the year.

Scarlet and Gray coach Steve Rohlik said Wisconsin presents a great challenge and his team will need to play at its highest level to get a victory in Game One of this series.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for their program,” Rohlik said. “They’re a very good team, they’re well coached, they’re good in all facets right now. They’ve got a good group of forwards up front that we’ve seen, so we’ve got to be at our best tomorrow night to go out and win a hockey game.”

Game Two of this doubleheader at Madison Square Garden is a part of Big Ten Super Saturday.

With that, OSU sophomore forward Dakota Joshua said his team is focused on Thursday’s clash in Columbus, but added that a victory at home will make the trip to the Big Apple all the sweeter.

“You’ve got to worry about what’s up first,” Joshua said. “We know that tomorrow night is the most important thing on our minds right now, but once we take care of business tomorrow night, we’re going to be really excited for Saturday night.”

The game at “The Garden” represents a unique opportunity for collegiate hockey to be on one of the largest stages in sport. For this reason, junior forward Matt Weis said the Scarlet and Gray will seize the moment of playing on the ice in New York, but the team also has a much larger goal in mind.

“I think just like coach says, embrace it, but obviously we’re there to do a job, and, obviously, we’ve got to get the three points against Wisconsin,” Weis said. “They’re ahead of us in the standings right now, so I think our main focus is climbing that ladder, and passing each team as we can.”

Puck drop for both Thursday and Saturday nights’ games are set for 7 p.m.

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