Ohio State mens hockey ready for return home against Penn State

Senior forward Alex Szczechura takes off his gloves during a game against Michigan State Jan. 11 at the Schottenstein Center. The teams tied, 1-1.Credit: Kelly Roderick / For The LanternFor the first time in four games, the Ohio State men’s hockey team will not be facing off against a top 10 opponent, and hopes to take advantage of a return to home ice.Coming off an impressive win Saturday against then-No. 9 Wisconsin, OSU welcomes Penn State to Columbus for a weekend doubleheader.The Buckeyes (12-9-1, 2-5-1-0) snapped a four-game winless streak with their 3-1 victory against the Badgers and are looking to record back-to-back conference wins for the first time ever.Meanwhile, the visiting Nittany Lions (4-15-1, 0-6-0) have struggled in only their second season as an NCAA program. They travel to Columbus in the midst of a six-game losing streak, their most recent loss being a 3-2 decision to No. 2 Boston College last weekend.But no matter how many losses are on Penn State’s résumé, the Buckeyes aren’t taking their opponents lightly.Freshman goalie Christian Frey said the fact that Penn State has so many close losses against top teams – with one-goal losses coming against ranked teams Wisconsin, Minnesota and Boston College – shows the Nittany Lions are tougher than their schedule suggests.“They’re a good team,” Frey said. “It’s going to be a good game and a close game decided by only a couple of plays.”Close games have been both a blessing and a curse for OSU this season, going 1-4-1 in games decided by a single goal or less but going 6-3 if the margin is increased to two.Now, with the momentum of a victory, freshman forward Nick Schilkey said the team needs to seize the opportunity to start a winning run.“We can’t go into this weekend thinking about our big win (against Wisconsin),” Schilkey said. “We’ve got to turn the page and get right back after it.”After this Saturday’s game, OSU hits the halfway mark in Big Ten play, with five games both in Columbus and five on the road to wrap up its season.Friday’s game against Penn State is slated to start at 7:05 p.m., while Saturday’s game is scheduled for an early puck drop of 2 p.m. read more