After snapping a three-game losing streak at Michigan, Ohio State men’s hockey is back home for a pair.
The No. 13 Buckeyes (16-9-3, 9-7-2 Big Ten) host No. 9 Penn State (17-9-2, 9-7-2) for two games this weekend, hoping to flip its losses into wins.
“It feels good to be here. The way the schedule is set up this year, until you go out four, five weeks on the road you really don’t know what it’s like to be away so long,” Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik said. “But we’re excited to be back here. The crowds have been great. We’re excited to get back in front of them and looking forward to a great matchup against Penn State.”
This past week, the Buckeyes split their series at Michigan, losing the first game 3-2 before a 4-1 victory in the second.
Rohlik said the team’s past experience with losing streaks should help it navigate a turnaround this time.
“It happened in the first part of the year, too, where we lost three in a row and got back on a run there,” Rohlik said. “Hopefully the stars are in line again. It always feels good to win. You gotta love to win. You can see it in our guys after the game.”
Ohio State and Penn State met once earlier this season, Nov. 21 and 22, with one Buckeye win and one loss.
Rohlik said the Buckeyes need to be detailed in their game against Penn State.
“Penn State — they have not changed. They love to get up and down the rink. They’ve got lots of talent. They try to put lots of pressure on you, your goaltender. They’re all about offense,” Rohlik said. “[On Saturday], I thought we had much better structure in trying to limit them and their kind of run-again offense.”
The Nittany Lions currently lead the Big Ten in goals with 101 and shots per game at 38.1, with the conference’s two points leaders heading the charge in senior forward Nate Sucese and junior forward Evan Barratt.
Ohio State freshman forward Jaedon Leslie said that slowing down the Penn State offense –– No. 6 in the nation in scoring –– will be key.
“I think if we can stick to our structure and play good defensively and possess pucks, I think we’ll be OK against them,” Leslie said.
Penn State’s conference-leading shot numbers are of particular intrigue to Ohio State junior goaltender Tommy Nappier.
“They’re a great team. You can tell by their record. As the goalie, they are going to shoot anything from anywhere, and they’re gonna try to play as much offense as they can,” Nappier said.
The Nittany Lions are coming off one loss and one tie in a two-game series with Notre Dame this past weekend.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, followed by a 5 p.m. start Saturday.