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Ohio State looks for quick start to weekend

Coming off its best offensive performance, the Ohio State men’s hockey team (3-6-1 overall, 2-3-1 CCHA) will host the Western Michigan Broncos (5-2-1, 1-2-1) this weekend.

For the first time this season, the Buckeyes will look to win the opening game of a two-game series this Friday.

“They have to mature in having the want to win,” said coach John Markell about his team’s inconsistency this season. “[They need to start] bringing that attitude that they have in the third period of a Saturday night into the first period of Friday night.”

Markell said he believes his roster can overcome this early obstacle and become more consistent in weekend games.

“We just have to adjust to it,” he said. “This is a new team and a new season. A lot has to do with attitude and their adjustments.”

The Buckeyes, fourth in the CCHA standings, will try to address these issues against the ninth-place Broncos.

Western Michigan hasn’t had much success on the ice in the past decade. The Broncos haven’t finished above sixth place in the CCHA since 2000-2001. After their 14-20-7 regular season and 9-13-6 CCHA records last year, the Broncos were placed at the bottom of the heap of the 2008-2009 CCHA coaches and media polls.

The Broncos couldn’t have asked for a better start of their current season as they won five consecutive games to open up their 2009-2010 campaign. Their streak ended when they traveled to Michigan State and lost 2-1.

The Broncos are returning a young but experienced roster from last season. They are welcoming back senior goaltender Riley Gill, who is the all-time shutout leader at Western Michigan. The senior has a .920 save percentage and a 2.91 goals allowed average. Other notable returners from last season are junior forward Max Campbell and Junior defenseman Tyler Ludwig.

“Hopefully our consistency continues to grow,” Markell said. “We are playing against a team here that is one of the best penalty team kills in the league, and they have a good power play.”

Ohio State is currently ranked 11th out of 12 in the CCHA in scoring offense with 2.10 goals per game. Northern Michigan is only slightly above them at 10th with a 2.25 scoring average. The Broncos are near the top of the leaderboard regarding power plays goals, while the Buckeyes are sitting near the bottom in that category.

The first matchup of the weekend will be played 7 p.m. Friday and will be followed by an 8:05 p.m. contest Saturday at the Schottenstein Center. 

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