When Ohio State and Michigan face off, no matter what sport, the game and atmosphere is unlike any other matchup.
Ohio State redshirt sophomore defenseman Wyatt Ege saw that firsthand when he visited Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take on the Wolverines for the first time on Nov. 24.
“These guys want to take your head off, so don’t catch your head down. It’s a big deal, it’s a big deal to be out there,” Ege said. “Their fans were definitely in our ears all game; their student section was right near our bench.”
When the No. 6 Ohio State men’s hockey team (15-5-4, 8-5-1-0 Big Ten) hosts No. 17 Michigan (12-10-2, 7-7-2-1 Big Ten) Friday and Saturday, Ege said he’s “expecting to see the same thing here.
Ohio State could be without junior forward Mason Jobst and senior defenseman Janik Moser. Jobst did not play against Penn State on Jan. 13 due to a lower-body injury. Moser left the same game after a hit from Penn State junior forward Andrew Sturtz. Both players are game-time decisions, head coach Steve Rohlik said.
The Buckeyes are coming off a bye week after splitting a weekend series against Penn State,. They’ve won seven of their last eight games. Michigan enters the matchup having won its past four games, sweeping No. 13 Minnesota and No. 14 Penn State with a 15-6 scoring margin.
“They’re going to come in here and obviously try and throw the first punch,” Rohlik said. “You’ve seen that in the last four games, I think they’ve scored a goal in the first two minutes of all four of those games.”
Michigan has relied on strong goaltending from sophomore goaltender Hayden Lavigne, who earned the Big Ten First Star of the Week last week. Lavigne made 118 saves on 124 shots, good for a .949 save percentage in the four games.
Ohio State sophomore forward Tanner Laczynski has been one of the most consistent forwards in the NCAA, leading the country with 23 assists. He is also tied for third in in the country with 34 points. Laczynski said it comes down to simple plays to beat any goaltender.
“I think just shots, lots of shots early and often. I think the more shots we have early, make him uncomfortable,” Laczynski said. “Then, he’ll be back on his heels and I think we’ll get a couple early.”
The puck will drop in the first game of the series at 7 p.m. Friday at the Schottenstein Center. Saturday’s game will start at 8 p.m.