The No. 6 Ohio State men’s hockey team will return to Columbus to take on the Wisconsin Badgers in the team’s second Big Ten series of the season.
After a 3-1-1 road game stretch by Ohio State (6-3-1, 1-1-0-0 Big Ten), the Buckeyes will come back to the Schottenstein Center to begin the first of two straight home series. Wisconsin (5-5, 1-1-0-0 Big Ten) has been an up-and-down team, sweeping then-No. 12 Boston College to open its season, but only having won three of its past eight games.
The Badgers have not done anything special, scoring 34 goals and allowing 30, with nine power play goals for and 13 against.
Wisconsin has risen to the occasion against tough opponents as well as played down to the competition, but one thing that has been consistent is how frequently they score. Offensively, the Badgers are No. 12 in shots on goal and are No. 11 in goals scored.
Wisconsin sophomore defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk, a Philadelphia Flyers draft pick along with Ohio State junior forward Tanner Laczynski, leads the team with 11 points and has five goals, tied for second in the nation among defensemen.
Head coach Steve Rohlik is familiar with this team and knows what the Buckeyes need to do to match up with the Badgers.
“They play hard, No. 1. That pucks drops, they’re going to bring it for 60 minutes,” Rohlik said. “We’ve got to match that energy and obviously try to bring it to a higher level ourselves, so that’s the first thing that comes to hand for me, and again, like I say, they’re well coached, they’re not going to give you much, they’re going to play good defensively and then it comes down to special teams.”
With a team that takes so many shots, the Ohio State goaltending duo of redshirt senior Sean Romeo and sophomore Tommy Nappier hope to build upon their performances against Notre Dame and Colgate.
The Buckeyes didn’t allow a single goal against Colgate and only gave up two in their series against Notre Dame, improving after previously questionable goaltending to start the year.
The goaltending situation for Wisconsin is similar to what Ohio State has done in the net. The Badgers have two goaltenders, freshman Daniel Lebedeff and junior Jeff Berry, who each have five starts in 10 games. Berry, however, hasn’t seen game action since he allowed four goals at North Dakota. Lebedeff holds a .927 save percentage, and has been taken the starts in Berry’s place.
The special teams for Ohio State are still far from where it was last season for the Buckeyes, with its power play percentage being the eighth-lowest in the country. The Badgers, however, should allow Ohio State opportunities with the man advantage. Wisconsin has the seventh-worst penalty killing unit at a .723 success rate.
Last season, Ohio State split its series in Madison, Wisconsin, and scored 10 goals in a sweep against the Badgers at home, and with 16 players returning for Wisconsin, senior forward Mason Jobst has an idea of what to expect from this squad.
“We’re pretty familiar with these guys, obviously we play them four times a year for the last however many years now,” Jobst said. “They’ve got some good players, like every team in the Big Ten, they’ve lost some good players as well. We’re going to watch some video on them, we’re not sure exactly what they’ve changed this year, but we expect them to be pretty good. “
Both games between Ohio State and Wisconsin will be at the Schottenstein Center. Game one begins at 7 p.m. on Friday and the puck drops for game two at 5 p.m on Saturday.