“Maybe it’s something in the water here in Columbus.”
That’s what Ohio State men’s hockey coach Steve Rohlik said in regards to his team’s high number of injures this season.
“(I’ve been) coaching 24 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Rohlik continued.
There has been one injury after another for the Buckeyes, with two forwards — junior Tyler Lundey and senior Darik Angeli — being placed on the injury list on Jan. 2. Senior forward Chad Niddery came next on the injury list when he was added during the Penn State series last weekend. The bad news continued for the Buckeyes as freshman forward Luke Stork and freshman defenseman Janik Möser have been labeled as “day-to-day” and are not skating.
Despite that list, Rohlik said he likes his team’s attitude.
“I like where we’re at, you know, we’re in a ‘next man standing’ situation right now — the next man up has to take advantage of his opportunity,” he said.
One player who has been given a chance in the wake of the injuries is sophomore Drew Brevig. A native of Lakeville, Minn., and a natural defenseman, Brevig has moved up to the forward line alongside senior captain Tanner Fritz and junior Anthony Greco.
Rohlik called Brevig “the quarterback of the team.”
And after an impressive three goals, 14 assists and +16 in plus-minus last season, Brevig has become a key asset to the Buckeyes’ blue-line offense.
Ever since he learned to walk, Brevig was dragged to the ice by his older sister, Devan, he said.
“She was a big-time figure skater and was always pushing me to skate,” Brevig said. “I actually started on figure skates, which is why I’ve always been a good skater, it teaches you to skate with long, powerful strides.”
Because he had the ability to skate, hockey came easily to Brevig as a young player.
“I always had a rink in my backyard during the winter,” he said. “My sister and I would always invite our friends to come out and skate, that’s where I really developed my love for the game.”
Brevig played hockey throughout high school and decided he wanted to go play juniors after he graduated, he said.
“I wanted to go to juniors to improve my game. I needed it to improve defensively,” he said.
But he said defense has always been the role for him.
“Even at a young age, my coaches always told me I would excel at defense,” he said. “I have always wanted to be a defenseman that my teammates could trust in all situations.”
The move to forward hit Brevig a week before the Penn State series, he said.
“All of a sudden coach (Rohlik) called me over during practice and told me I would be moving up to the forward line,” Brevig said.
Brevig said the change has been “all about getting used to playing a different type of offense.”
“I’m more comfortable being a defenseman because you can see the play from behind and you have a little more time to make decisions,” he said. “As a forward, you’re leading the rush … I’m just trying to keep up with Fritz and Greco and play to their skills.”
But he said he has always been an offensively-minded defenseman.
“Growing up, I played with a lot of great forwards and I always wanted to be part of the action,” Brevig said. “Scoring goals is always fun, even when you’re not the one to put it in the net.”
He has never been the type of player to sit back as a defenseman, which is why Rohlik decided to move him up to the forward line.
“Drew’s done a great job,” Rohlik said, “It’s not always easy to transition from defense to forward but he’s been a valuable assets to our offense.”
After a 1-1 series against Penn State,the Buckeyes are looking to continue their momentum against one of the best offenses in college hockey.
After not having a home game for 56 days, the Buckeyes will return to the Schottenstein Center on Friday at 7 p.m. to take on the Michigan Wolverines.
With Michigan just coming off of two consecutive victories against then-No. 9 Minnesota, the Buckeyes will be looking to players like Brevig to lead the offense in scoring opportunities.
“I just want to be an impact player every night for our team,” Brevig said. “I didn’t start out as strong this season, but I am very excited to continue into the most important part of our season Big Ten play.”