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Men’s hockey adjusting to ‘new skin’

The Ohio State men’s hockey season starts this Friday with new head coach Mark Osiecki at the helm.

“With a new coaching staff you have a different feel as a team,” senior forward Sergio Somma said. “It’s kind of like you have a new set of skin.”

They are hoping their new ‘skin’ will change things for the team who finished last season with a disappointing 15-18-6 record.

“We have to try to create our culture,” Osiecki said. “We’d like to play an up-tempo, very aggressive offensive game.”

The differences don’t end on the ice.

“Coach (Osiecki) expects you to be great off the ice,” senior forward Peter Boyd said. “If you’re struggling off the ice, it’s going to relate on the ice.”

The attention to detail outside the rink has resulted in more contact with the coaches through phone calls and e-mails, Somma said.

The increased communication has resulted in a better understanding of the coach’s goals.

“There’s kind of a point to everything that we are doing. He explains it very thoroughly,” senior goaltender Dustin Carlson said. “Guys know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it and how to incorporate it to the game itself.”

Players welcome the increase in detail and intensity.

“You want to get pushed to a level that you feel uncomfortable because that makes you a better player,” Boyd said.

Somma agreed.

“He is going to push you to that edge, that physical edge and that mental edge that you need to get better,” he said.

Seventeen of the players being pushed are upperclassmen.

“I think (having so many upperclassmen) is positive on the front that there’s going to be a handful of these kids that are tremendous kids, very good hockey players that are going to definitely grasp what we’re talking about here and it’s going to help their careers,” Osiecki said.

The coach was also excited about playing six of the first seven games on the road.

“It brings your team close together,” Osiecki said. “It’s going to really tell us what we have, who can handle some tough situations, who can play at an up-tempo pace on a big ice sheet — we’ll learn a lot after the first few games.”

Despite the early road trips and a losing record a year ago, expectations remain high.

“There is no reason why we can’t win a (Central Collegiate Hockey Association Conference) title,” Somma said.

Pre-season polls predict the Buckeyes to finish eighth out of eleven teams in the conference by the media and no player was on the preseason all-conference team.

“I think we have a great team but it’s not going to come easy,” Boyd said.

Osiecki was more concerned with implementing the proper attitude, indicating that if that was done, the wins would come.

“Our goal is to develop the culture that we think that OSU hockey is going to bring to the table,” he said. “We want kids that are going to come in here and mature as hockey players and mature as a person away from the rink.”

The team will showcase its new culture this Friday as the Buckeyes travel to Quinnipiac University (Hamden, Conn.). The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.

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