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Men’s hockey: Buckeyes keep focus on Michigan and not recent scoring slump

OSU senior forward Nick Schilkey (7) during a game against Minnesota on Feb. 12 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Lantern File Photo

The Ohio State men’s hockey team has fallen into a recent scoring slump, but the players refuse to let it force themselves into overthinking their strategy against a struggling Michigan team.

Heading into the upcoming weekend series in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Buckeyes (12-6-6, 3-4-1) have slipped to No. 4 in the conference standings and sit seven points behind co-leaders Minnesota and Wisconsin. OSU averages just more than four goals a game, but the team struggled to get anything going offensively while getting swept in last weekend’s series with Wisconsin.

Michigan has a rich tradition embedded with championships, but the team has only recorded one Big Ten win and provides an opportunity for OSU to rebound. Even though Michigan has had a down year in the conference, OSU coach Steve Rohlik realizes that the team cannot overlook the Wolverines this weekend, especially having its senior leadership out of the lineup with injury and suspension.

“It could be the first time we have all three of our senior captains out of the lineup, which is pretty rare. But we’re a resilient group and it’s going to make sure other guys pick their pace up and are better,” Rohlik said. “That being said, I don’t want us to get in a ‘run-and-gun’ type of game this year. We want to continue to play discipline hockey and go up to Michigan to play our best game.”

Last season’s matchups with the Wolverines had a theme of goals coming in bunches. The two teams combined for 10-or-more goals in each meeting in 2015-16, including one game with 14 goals. Without a few of their best players on the offensive and defensive end, it’ll be even more difficult to keep pace in games like that, let alone ending a scoring slump.

Sophomore forward Mason Jobst said that former circumstances should not be the motivation to getting back on track. As the team’s points leader, Jobst will be a primary option for the Buckeyes.

“Last year was last year and it’s a new team for both of us,” Jobst said. “I’m not really sure how it’ll play out but hopefully we put more pucks in the net than they do.”

The Buckeyes head into Yost Ice Arena for the two game series with Michigan before returning home for a series with No. 7 Minnesota. For this experienced team, it will be key to watch if they follow the previous comments from their experienced leaders.

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