One-and-done has a nice ring to it, as far as Tanner Laczynski is concerned.
That approach is a good thing, because he and the Ohio State men’s hockey team will play at Notre Dame on Saturday night in the final of the Big Ten tournament, winner take all.
It’s Notre Dame, winner of the regular season title in its first year as an adjunct member of the league, against Ohio State, which finished second in the regular season. Both are virtually assured spots in the NCAA Tournament, which begins next week, but there still is a trophy on the line Saturday.
“It’s laying everything on the line, you have nothing to save yourself for,” said Laczynski, who leads OSU’s first forward line. “It’s one game and you can call yourself a champion.”
>> Video: Ohio State's Tanner Laczynski on team's state headed into Big Ten title game
Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson wasn’t necessarily an advocate of the one-game approach in a sport in which a series seems better-suited to decide things. But both OSU and Notre Dame hosted one-game semifinals last week, the Fighting Irish beating Penn State and the Buckeyes beating Michigan in overtime at Nationwide Arena, and each drew strong crowds, despite it being the start of spring break for both.
“When you’re playing best of three … it’s really tough to fill a building for three games, if you go three,” Jackson said. “It’s nice to have a big crowd for one game.”
A championship atmosphere, home or away, is what it’s all about, Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik said as he tries to steer his team to a title for the first time in his five seasons.
“This is what we do (play on the road) almost every other weekend during the year, and we’re going to go play in a great environment, a fantastic facility against a great hockey team,” Rohlik said. “Our guys are excited.
“The new (one-game) format, I think, has been real positive. We will certainly talk about it at our coaches’ meeting coming up, but from the crowds we’ve had here, the crowds Notre Dame has had, Penn State has had, I think it has been a real positive.”
The game not only will feature two teams that play a similar style with emphasis on puck possession and rollicking defense, but also will showcase the top two goaltenders in the league. Notre Dame’s Cale Morris was named first-team all-Big Ten and the conference player of the year this week, and Ohio State’s Sean Romeo was named second team all-Big Ten.
It also will feature three other first team all-Big Ten performers in Ohio State’s Laczynski and Notre Dame defender Jordan Gross and forward Jake Evans.
The Buckeyes went 1-3 against Notre Dame in the regular season, with the Fighting Irish sweeping at Ohio State in November before the Buckeyes gained a split at then-top ranked Notre Dame four weekends ago.
“What we talked about (after that trip) was it was a good win for our program against the No. 1 team in the country,” Rohlik said. “They had beaten us three times in a row. We understand that, even going in now, we’re playing the best team in our league. We’ve got to be at our best.”