The men’s ice hockey club ends its season successfully and looks forward to regionals
After a year-long hiatus due to the pandemic, Ohio State’s men’s club ice hockey team rebounded with a successful 2021-22 campaign.
The Buckeyes (11-9) return to the ice against Rider (19-4) in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Southeast Regionals at OhioHealth Chiller Ice Dublin at 1 p.m. Friday. The winner will travel to the Nationals in St. Louis March 10-20.
Ohio State started the season in front of a packed crowd at the Ohio State Rink against state rival Cincinnati on October 8, 2021. The Buckeyes beat the Bearcats 5-4 in an overtime thriller in front of fans for the first time since the 2019-20 season.
Alex Vineyard, a third-year aerospace engineer and club president, and Jeffrey Hubbard, a third-year electrical and computer engineer, said the game against Cincinnati was their favorite of the season.
“It seemed like all of our friends and family came to watch and see us play after not playing for an entire year,” Vineyard said. “It was really special.”
The Buckeyes ended up splitting that weekend streak with Cincinnati before riding a four-game winning streak, beating Indiana and Xavier away from home and sweeping Bowling Green in a two-game home and road series.
Ohio State was swept at home by Louisville late in the fall, but the Buckeyes finished their sweep of Xavier with a home win on Nov. 21, 2021, before splitting their home streak against the Kentucky from December 3-4, 2021.
In January, the team learned that they were unable to train or play at the Ohio State Ice Rink due to updated COVID-19 policies on campus. As a result, they could only train once a week off campus. Vineyard said it was a blow to the team‘s playoff run.
“It was like dragging a piano, trying to play games against teams that practice normally,” Vineyard said. “We’re not getting as much work and improvement as we could get.”
During that span, three of Ohio State’s eight games were called off, including the second of a two-game series against Miami (OH) due to COVID-19 and an away series against Wisconsin. the first weekend of February which was canceled due to a snowfall. emergency.
In this section of games, the Buckeyes lost a close to Miami (OH) and split their series against Ohio on Jan. 21-22. Next, they had an away series against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in which they split the series on January 28-29.
Head coach Greg Corcoran said splitting the series against the Wolverines was huge and one of his favorite moments from his first season with the Buckeyes.
“Beating Michigan on their senior day was one of my favorites. Playing a full 60 minute game where I thought we were dominating every aspect,” Corcoran said. “It’s probably the best game we’ve played all year.”
Ohio State finished the season with a series sweep of Dayton on Feb. 11-12, then a home loss to Penn State in its season finale on Feb. 13. These are the most important games of the season, Vineyard said.
“We were kind of close to getting into regionals,” Vineyard said. “We had to somehow win all three games or at least do very well and try to clinch our spot.”
The Buckeyes secured the No. 11 seed in the Southeast region. However, before they could prepare for that, their league playoffs awaited them.
In their first game of the Tri-State Collegiate Hockey League playoffs, Ohio State faced Kentucky in a high-scoring affair that saw the Buckeyes win 6-4 over the Wildcats on Feb. 18. Hubbard said he liked what he saw from the team during that game.
“We put in all of our effort,” Hubbard said. “It certainly helped us.”
The Buckeyes then fell in Game 2 of the playoffs against Miami (OH) 4-0 on Saturday. Vineyard said that, just like in the regular season, consistency was an issue that showed up again in the playoffs.
“We didn’t necessarily play horribly well, but you could tell our energy level wasn’t the same,” Vineyard said. “I think it’s a great example of our lack of consistency.”
Consistency is something the Buckeyes will need in Regionals to make a run for their ticket to the national tournament. Corcoran said he believes his team has what it takes.
“We really have to make sure we play our game with all of our guys engaged and involved,” Corcoran said. “When we play like that, we can do special things.”