With its lone loss in the past nine games against No. 2 Cornell, Ohio State men’s hockey resumes Big Ten play with a bit of momentum following a 2-1 overtime win against Army West Point.
No. 7 Ohio State (13-5-2 , 6-3-1 Big Ten) travels to challenge Wisconsin (7-10-1, 2-7-1-1) in a two-game series Friday and Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin.
“I think they’re very talented. I think they work very hard. They put a lot of pressure on you,” head coach Steve Rohlik said. “Those are kind of their identity: getting up and down the rink, playing hard, playing in your face, having talent, scoring some goals. We’ve gotta be ready for a 60-minute game.”
It will be the Buckeyes’ fourth game back from a three-week break in December, and despite their loss to Cornell, Rohlik said the team’s overtime win this past week was a morale booster.
Ohio State has won eight of its past 10 games against Wisconsin, including six in a row. The teams last faced off Feb. 9, 2019, when the Buckeyes won 4-1.
Statistically, the Buckeyes and Badgers have different strengths. Ohio State is No. 6 nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 1.9 goals per game. Wisconsin, on the other hand, gives up an average of 3.4.
The Badgers have an offensive edge, though, as they possess the No. 16 scoring offense in the country at 3.1 goals. Ohio State rounds out the top 30 in the nation, scoring 2.7 goals per game.
“They’re very offensive,” Ohio State senior forward Tanner Laczynski said. “We just need to play within our structure and capitalize on our rushes and stuff.”
Laczynski received the Big Ten Third Star of the Week Tuesday, his second Big Ten honor this season and eighth of his career. Laczynski leads Ohio State with 13 assists and 20 points.
Wisconsin hasn’t played a game since Dec. 7, aside from an exhibition against the U.S. under-18 team Jan. 1. While Wisconsin was able to rest for nearly a month to practice and refresh, Rohlik said the extra contests Ohio State has played allow the team to learn through the rigor of competing in close games.
“The longer the break, I think it hurts you more,” Ohio State senior defenseman Gordi Myer said. “For us to have four games played since Christmas break, I think it’s helped us a lot to get back into things.”
Myer said the team needs every point possible to put them into Big Ten Championship contention at the end of the season.
“Every point counts. Every shift counts,” Myer said.
The puck drops at 8 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday at the Kohl Center in Madison.