It would seem that this year could potentially be a step back for the No. 19 Ohio State men’s hockey team, but junior forward Mason Jobst is looking to do his part to avoid any possible regression.
The Buckeyes come into this season off their first NCAA tournament bid since 2009. But after a first-round overtime loss to then-No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth, the team lost three goalies and much of its top talent, which included captain and forward Nick Schilkey, who led the team in goals with 27.
Jobst is returning from a dominant sophomore campaign in which he tallied 19 goals and 36 assists, led the Big Ten in points with 55 and earned second team All-American honors. Now coming into his junior year, Jobst said while he looks to improve, his goals are more team-oriented.
“I think it’s just improving on the last year, being more productive than I was last year,“ Jobst said. “It was a tough loss in the first round of the NCAAs and the second round of the [Big Ten tournament], so just trying push to get further in that, and hopefully win the Big Ten Championship and win a national championship.”
Western Michigan assistant coach Todd Krygier still remembers the years he spent coaching Jobst with the United States Hockey League’s Muskegon Lumberjacks in junior hockey. He remembers not only the leadership of Jobst, but also the speed, playmaking ability and hockey IQ as standing out on the ice.
“His character was off the charts,” Krygier said. “His work ethic, his ability to get along with others and pull a team together and lead a team on and off the ice was absolutely fantastic.”
Krygier added that in his time as Jobst’s coach, the now standout forward received little recognition from other teams and that Ohio State was one of the only teams that reached out to him.
“I talked to several NCAA teams over the couple years that I coached him, and Ohio State was the only team that listened,” Krygier said. “So congrats to Ohio State, they obviously made a great decision.”
Jobst was named captain for the Buckeyes Wednesday. But Krygier said Jobsts’ leadership had been obvious to him for years prior as he was a captain on Muskegon for his final two seasons.
“I’ve learned a lot the last couple of years from Nick Schilkey and I think he was a great leader off the ice and on the ice, so it’s just trying to take parts of what he’d done in the past and what I’ve done to get here and try to lead this team to a championship,” Jobst said.
Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik also understood what types of positive qualities Jobst brings to the team in many aspects.
“He’s a kid that carries himself on the ice and off the ice, he’s the one that leads our culture and does the right things,” Rohlik said. “When your team looks at a player like that, everybody feeds off it.”
Size has always been the concern for Jobst, who stands 5-foot-8, but Krygier said he knew Jobst would overcome any obstacles in his way.
“For Mason to produce in the USHL the way he did, and the style he played and the work ethic he had, there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to be an All-American hockey player,” Krygier said.
Jobst said players like future NHL Hall of Famer Martin St. Louis, current Calgary Flames wing Johnny Gaudreau, and Columbus Blue Jackets wing Cam Atkinson — all 5-foot-9 or shorter — are succeeding in ways he hopes to one day. Jobst wears the No. 26 because of St. Louis.
“[St. Louis] was kind of a guy that started paving the way for smaller guys in the NHL with how hard he worked and how skilled he was,” Jobst said.
Jobst and the No. 19 Buckeyes open the regular season with a pair of games on the road against a Big Ten opponent in No. 12 Wisconsin.
“We’re getting right after it, playing a team that knocked us out of the Big Ten playoffs last year so I think we’re itching to get in there, and it should be a good atmosphere and a lot of fun,” Jobst said.
Rohlik said Jobst is a special kind of player, and one who should only get better in this upcoming season.
“As soon as you become satisfied you’re going to get passed up, and Mason’s not the kid that ever gets satisfied,” Rohlik said.