After being swept last weekend by No. 18 Wisconsin, the Ohio State men’s hockey team (12-6-6, 3-4-1-1) travels to Ann Arbor, Michigan, this weekend for a conference clash with the rivaled Michigan Wolverines.
The Buckeyes will remain without senior forward and captain Nick Schilkey due to injury, as well as senior defender Josh Healey, who was suspended for Friday’s matchup after a hit on Wisconsin senior forward Grant Besse during a game against the Badgers on Jan. 28.
As a player averaging 32 minutes per game this season, Scarlet and Gray coach Steve Rohlik said Healey’s presence will be tough to replace on the ice, but added that his absence allows an opening for other guys to step into his place.
“We’re a resilient group, and we’ll have 16 (players) dressed, ready to go,” Rohlik said. “He’s going to be missed, but that’s just going to make sure that other guys pick their pace up and are better.”
The Wolverines (8-12-2, 1-6-1-1) began conference play this season with three straight losses, and now lie in fifth place in the Big Ten standings after losing four of their last six games.
Despite recent results, Rohlik said his team can’t look past last season’s conference tournament champions. He added that OSU will need to bring its all in order to leave the state of Michigan with two victories this weekend.
“Michigan is Michigan. They’re capable of beating anyone in the country, and we understand that,” Rohlik said. “We’ve got a lot of respect for who they are, what they are, and I say this all the time but we’re going to have to be at our best to win hockey games, and we’re going to have to bring it Friday to get a win.”
Yost Ice Arena, the home of Wolverine hockey, is a bucket list venue for any hockey fan. With that, Scarlet and Gray sophomore forward Mason Jobst — who leads the Buckeyes in points this year and currently sits on a 10-game point streak — said OSU has played in a handful of tough settings so far this season, and that the Buckeyes welcome the challenge of another this weekend.
“We’ve played in a few barns this year that have been pretty hostile, so it’s always good to have experience coming back,” Jobst said. “I think the young guys have done a great job handling it, and Yost will be a fun place to play, so I think everyone’s pretty excited.”
Puck drop for Friday’s Game One of this series is slated for 8 p.m., while Saturday’s Game Two start is set for 7:30 p.m.