Gameday+ | Meet a Buckeye: Ronnie Hein, men’s hockey

Ray Stein
Senior Ronnie Hein gets especially fired up to play Michigan and Penn State.[Eric Albrecht/Dispatch]

Ronnie Hein

Sport: Men’s hockey

Age: 22

Year: Senior

Hometown: Chelsea, Mich.

Major: Business real estate and urban analysis

Question: Chelsea, I have learned, is a city in Washtenaw County, about 15 miles west of Ann Arbor and about 40 miles southeast of Lansing. And yet here you are in Columbus, Ohio. How did that work out?

Answer: I had always wanted to attend a Big Ten school but not one in particular. So when Ohio State showed interest in me more so than Michigan or Michigan State, I felt comfortable with the decision to come down here.

Q: What other colleges pursued you on the recruiting trail, and how did Ohio State win out?

A: I had previously verbally committed to Ferris State, in Big Rapids, Michigan. But when I was getting ready to sign my national letter of intent, I knew at heart I wanted to go to a Big Ten school, so I re-opened my options. Ohio State showed immediate interest. I had about five days left before the NLI deadline and Ohio State made me feel very comfortable very fast.

Q: Now that you’re a fourth-year Buckeye, is there one opponent you get especially pumped for?

A: I get excited for every game but there are two teams that I get especially pumped to play: Michigan (of course) and now Penn State, especially playing at Penn State during their white-out.

Q: Growing up in southeastern Michigan, what other activities kept you busy?

A: I was always very busy with hockey as we traveled almost every weekend for tournaments around the country and to Canada. I did play one year of lacrosse in high school. Other than formalized sports, my friends and I would always play football, basketball and some baseball for fun outside of school.

Q: Did you grow up a Red Wings fan when they were making the Stanley Cup playoffs 25 years in a row?

A: Being only an hour from Detroit, I grew up being a huge Red Wings fan, and they made it very easy to be. I was lucky enough to see three Stanley Cup winners and also got to travel with their team to Chicago for a weekend series when I was 12 years old.

Q: How difficult has it been the past three years when Detroit has averaged something like 75 points per season?

A: Understanding the world of hockey, I knew this rebuilding period was coming at one point or another. It hasn’t been great the past few years but having Steve Yzerman back as the general manager and some good young talent, the future looks bright.

Q: What’s your family dynamic? What do mom Tracy and dad Larry do?

A: My dad was a construction worker in my younger years and is now a crossfit trainer at a gym back home. My mom has always been in the business field; she is an executive for ABC Supply, a construction product distribution company.

Q: And you have two younger siblings, right? What are they into?

A: My brother, Ryan, is 21 and attends Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids majoring in criminal justice. He grew up playing hockey, as well, and played club hockey in college. He plans to move to Colorado after college to become a licensed fishing and hunting guide. My sister, Rachel, is 15 and is a sophomore in high school. She has played soccer and volleyball and also ran track. As she gets older she has focused more of her time on volleyball.

Q: How difficult was it to leave home when you were in high school to play junior hockey in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and Waterloo, Iowa?

A: Being from such a small town, leaving home when I was 17 and missing my senior year of high school was extremely difficult. But my family and friends knew this was the best option for my success in hockey and I did want to go. I was lucky that my principal allowed me to do online school so that when my season was over I was able to go back and graduate with my friends.

Q: Was one of those places colder in the winter than the other?

A: They were both very cold but Aberdeen was colder. There were a lot of open cornfields where we lived so it was very windy.

Q: You were a team captain in your second year in Waterloo, and have the same role this year with OSU; how meaningful is it for you to wear the “C”?

A: It means a lot that my teammates think of me as a leader, and I do my best every day to live up to that. I am honored to be a captain at such a prestigious university and humbled that I get to lead with three great teammates.

Q: What has been the highlight of your three years as an Ohio State hockey player?

A: Making the NCAA Tournament three years in a row and having a Frozen Four appearance has been great, but the highlight would have to be being Big Ten regular-season champions last year and winning it in overtime against TTUN.

Q: And you spent some time this summer in the Calgary Flames’ development camp? How did that go?

A: Yes, from July 3-7. It was a great camp and a great experience. It was my first camp, so I didn’t know what to expect. But it turned out great and I learned some good things leaving after camp.

Q: What sort of feedback did you get when that stint was over? Did you walk away from that feeling confident?

A: Like all college hockey players, I want to play professionally, and that was a step closer to achieving that goal. They gave me some feedback on what to work on this season and will keep building my game to give myself the best shot of playing at the next level.

Q: Let’s get to some things about what makes you tick: What is the significance of the No. 40 on your sweater?

A: Growing up, my favorite player was Henrik Zetterberg of the Red Wings. Most junior teams don’t allow numbers that high, so I couldn’t take No. 40 until I was 17 years old. Since then it has done good things for me.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you chirp at your opponents during games?

A: I don’t chirp very much — so probably 2 or 3. I think irritating opponents with some certain things you do works better. Or even a little smile when they’re trying to get into your head seems to work well, too.

Q: Who among your teammates does the best job of trash-talking?

A: Our backup goaltender Evan Moyse can really run his mouth; I have seen a lot of guys get mad at him during games. He loves doing it and we love listening to him get into it with the other team. He’s usually closest to the other team’s bench, so he’s always leaning over and chirping guys on their bench.

Q: What is your favorite movie?

A: “Interstellar.” Matthew McConaughey is my favorite actor and does a great job in that film. It is also my favorite movie because I’m still somewhat confused about the movie even after watching it 10 times.

Q: What is one food item that you would never, ever want to give up?

A: If it’s one item, it would be ice cream for sure. But if there was one meal that I would never give up it would be steak with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Q: Not counting Aberdeen and Waterloo, what vacation spot would you most like to visit again?

A: The spot I would most like to visit again would be the Turks and Caicos Islands. We went there for a family vacation when I was 14. We had an amazing time and it was beautiful down there.