Following two consecutive losses to Minnesota, the No. 6 Ohio State men’s hockey team (19-7-4, 12-5-3 Big Ten) is hoping to get back on its feet as it travels to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to play Michigan (12-12-6, 8-8-4 Big Ten).
Ohio State fell in the USCHO polls from No. 2 to No. 6 this week after back-to-back 4-3 losses to Minnesota.
Michigan, meanwhile, has lacked consistency this season. Since Jan. 5, it has not won or lost more than two games in a row in any stretch.
Junior defenseman Matt Miller said Ohio State’s first set of consecutive losses on the season will change the mindset moving forward.
“I think we might’ve gotten a little bit complacent and thinking about the future too much,” he said. “I think this week we kind of woke up and realized that we have to go one challenge at a time.”
The Buckeyes lead Michigan, which is ranked No. 4 in the Big Ten standings, in offense, defense and win percentage this year. Ohio State has played Michigan twice at home this season, splitting the series where the Buckeyes outscored the Wolverines 5-4 overall despite being outshot in both contests.
Head coach Steve Rohlik said the team knows what to expect from the Wolverines this weekend.
“We know who they are,” Rohlik said. “We’ve played them. We’ve watched video; they’re a very good hockey team. We know what to expect. We know we’ve got to be at our best. I sound redundant by saying that but it’s the truth.”
Michigan is led by freshman defenseman Quinn Hughes, who has tallied four goals and 25 assists so far this year.
Hughes was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, and was selected by the Vancouver Canucks. He scored two assists in the previous series against the Buckeyes.
Ohio State senior forward and team captain Mason Jobst said the team is looking forward to the upcoming away game, considering Ohio State has won three of the past four meetings against Michigan in Ann Arbor.
“I think historically we’ve been pretty good when we go up there,” Jobst said. “The rivalry just adds that much more intensity.”
Ohio State will clinch the Big Ten in the regular season with one win against the Wolverines.
No. 6 Ohio State takes on Michigan in Ann Arbor at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and 6 p.m. on Saturday.