The Ohio State men’s ice hockey team, led by head coach Steve Rohlik, is preparing for an exciting 2023-24 season with high expectations and a talented roster. Buckeye fans can expect thrilling action on the ice and the pursuit of championship dreams.
The ultimate goal for the Buckeyes is to compete at the highest level and make a run at the NCAA championship. The squad was hopeful to progress to the Frozen Four last year after a first-round 8-1 domination over Harvard.
But after a 1-0 start over a stellar Quinnipiac team in the second round, the No. 1 Bobcats would go on to shut out the Buckeyes the rest of the game, winning 4-1 and eventually becoming national champions.
Rohlik said he has high hopes for his squad going into the new season with returning faces and 15 newcomers.
“I think people are gonna see a handful of the new guys and who that is right now, I don’t know,” Rohlik said. “I think everybody’s got that opportunity to come in here and contribute. So I think it’s kind of gonna be a ‘wait and see’ with everybody, but I certainly think we’re gonna have a few guys to pick from.”
One of the returning players, senior forward Joe Dunlap, made his expectations for the season clear.
“I’m just hoping for a championship this season. It’s like our last year, obviously, so I’m just excited for that opportunity to play for the championship and hopefully make the pros,” Dunlap said.“We’ll see what happens, but you never really know in hockey.”
The Windham, New Hampshire, native scored a career-high 13 goals last season, made nine assists and 22 points while skating in all 40 games.
However, Dunlap will now be sharing the ice with a few new players.
The Buckeyes lost some key pieces of the defense to the AHL and NHL, such as blue liners Mason Lohrei to the Providence Bruins and Cole McWard to the Vancouver Canucks.
One of the biggest losses was Jakub Dobes, the 2022 Big Ten Goalie of the Year and 2023 Mike Richter Award semifinalist, who now plays for the Montreal Canadiens.
Dunlap said losing a player of Dobes’ caliber to the NHL is bittersweet, but it will grant other players an opportunity to fulfill the position.
“Losing Dobby is a big loss,” Dunlap said. “We got two new goalies in so I think they’re gonna make each other better for sure. Just competing with one another. So I think just having that goaltender battle is going to help our team in the long run.”
Rohlik said he is hopeful for improvement coming out of the offseason.
“It’s on each individual. And those are the things we tasked them with over the summer, and they got to take that responsibility on themselves, to get bigger, faster, stronger,” Rohlik said.
The 2023-24 campaign certainly has some challenges ahead, and with the new schedule release , the Buckeyes are guaranteed another challenging season.
Ohio State kicks off its first game Saturday when it faces Mercyhurst in Erie, Pennsylvania, at 7 p.m.