ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Ohio State hockey team went through a light workout in the Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday afternoon, and coach Steve Rohlik said afterward the Buckeyes will be all hands on deck Thursday when they take on Minnesota-Duluth in an NCAA Frozen Four semifinal.
Of course, that’s taking into account that senior forward Matthew Weis, who scored the overtime goal against Michigan in a Big Ten tournament semifinal four weeks ago, won’t be available due the shoulder injury he suffered in practice the week after.
“Everybody’s good to go except, obviously, Matt,” Rohlik said.
>>Video: Ohio State "good to go" for Frozen Four
"Raring to go” might be the more appropriate phrase, OSU captain Mason Jobst indicated. It’s been almost two weeks since the Buckeyes clinched just the second trip in program history to the Frozen Four after winning the Midwest Regional in Allentown, Pennsylvania, beating Princeton and defending national champion Denver.
“It seems like it has been dragging on for a while now,” Jobst said. “But I think we wanted to approach the week the way we’ve been doing all year. We’ve been preparing very well in practice and that’s what’s been leading to our success all season. You get to this point you don’t want to change up too much.”
It’s not forgotten by the Buckeyes (26-9-5) that Minnesota-Duluth eliminated them in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year in overtime.
“It was the first time we made the tournament in nine years; I think we were a little blinded by the lights and all that” early in the game, Jobst said. “But we played really well and took them to overtime.
“It’s nice to have a chance again this year to play the same team. Obviously they’ve got a lot of turnover and a lot of freshmen this year and stuff, but they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t a great team.”
While OSU was a last-minute addition to the field last year and Duluth was a No. 1 regional seed, the script was flipped this year. Duluth (23-16-3), which fell in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff, likely would have been left out of the 16-team NCAA field had Notre Dame not beaten OSU in the Big Ten final.
Rohlik, a former Minnesota-Duluth assistant coach, shrugged when reminded of that irony Wednesday.
“I’ll take my chance, I guess, right now,” he said. “Again, 10 great years of my life (were spent as an assistant to coach Scott Sandelin), learned a lot. Scott gave me an unbelievable opportunity to learn as a coach on the ice, off the ice, something I will cherish obviously forever.
“But as the hockey world moves on, my whole thing is about this hockey program, these guys. … Come tomorrow night, make no exception to it, we’ll be out there competing. It’s Ohio State vs. Duluth, not Scott vs. Steve.”