Ohio State men’s hockey returning to full strength, hoping for improvement
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2013 16:01
Ohio State men’s hockey’s Sam Jardine has several names for the shape of a scar left after an ice skate sliced his forearm more than two months ago.
“Fishhook, backwards J, half a heart,” Jardine said, staring at what is a physical reminder of an injury that he suffered during a Nov. 10 game against Alaska at the Schottenstein Center.
The incident, which has cost Jardine 12 games of his freshman campaign, perhaps is the most extreme example of what’s become an injury-ridden season for the Buckeyes, at least so far.
“We had four guys miss the whole first half of the year basically,” said OSU coach Mark Osiecki. “That’s tough, you just don’t see that very often in college hockey.”
Jardine, freshman forward Anthony Greco, sophomore forward Nick Oddo and senior defenseman Devon Krogh have all missed various lengths of time because of injury.
Hockey is a sport in which a team goes deep into its bench on a nightly basis. Quick, on-the-fly substitutions create a need for four offensive lines (a group of three forwards) and at least three pairings of defensemen. Throw in the goalie, as well as a penalty kill line, and a team consistently uses more than 20 players per game, even though only six skate at a given time. Missing multiple pieces of a team forces it to reconfigure a number of its shifts.
“We’ve had so many defensemen out. At times we had forwards back there,” Osiecki said.
Despite a depleted roster, the Buckeyes have played to a 7-6-3-1 record in conference play . Their 25 points rank them seventh of the 11 teams in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, but they sit just eight points out of first with 12 games remaining in the regular season.
“It’s been a long haul here for our guys,” Osiecki said. “I give a lot of credit for our guys stepping up and playing with a short roster.”
The team is finally regaining its health as the postseason looms just more than six weeks away. Greco and Krogh returned to action Friday against Northern Michigan after Jardine and Oddo returned the weekend before against Ferris State..
Osiecki said the regained depth is benefiting the team beyond game day, as last week featured “the two most competitive practices” of the year.
With the return of some of its key players, OSU seems to be settling into new lines and defensive pairings.
“ ... they understand they’re competing,” Osiecki said. “They’re all pushing each other.”
Junior forward Travis Statchuk said the competitive nature of the team’s expanding roster will propel it to greater heights.
“Having more bodies, everyone has to battle all week to get in the lineup and play. That makes each one of us better,” Statchuk said.
OSU is set to return to the ice against Lake Superior State Friday at 7:05 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: January 24, 2013
An earlier version of this story introduced OSU men's hockey player Sam Jardin in the first paragraph. It
is Sam Jardine.