Coach Steve Rohlik and the Ohio State men's hockey team looked like they had some things finally figured out by the end of last season. Christian Frey had finally taken over as the full time starting goalie. Young players like David Gust were coming on and making names for themselves. And the team was even competing with Minnesota for the second straight year in the conference tournament.
But the Big Ten hockey coaches still don't see the Buckeyes rising above 5th place in the conference for the upcoming season. The Buckeyes went 8-11-1-1 in conference last season, finishing in 5th, and were 14-19-3 overall. Minnesota and Michigan were above the Buckeyes as usual, with Michigan State and Penn State ascending higher than pretty much any preseason poll predicted them to go. Wisconsin took a horrendous tumble from conference champs to a whole two wins in conference last year.
According to the coaches, Michigan is the favorite to win the conference, after going 12-8 in conference last season and reaching the conference tournament title game before falling to regular season champion Minnesota. Minnesota was picked second, with Michigan State third and Penn State fourth. Michigan returns unanimous Preseason Players to Watch list members J.T. Compher and Columbus Blue Jackets first round pick Zach Werenski. The only other unanimous selections were Minnesota's Hudson Fasching and Michigan State's star goaltender Jake Hildebrand.
Buckeye forwards Anthony Greco, who led the team in goals last season with 15, and Nick Schilkey, are the only two Buckeyes to be members of the Preseason Players to Watch list. Schilkey was also an Academic All-Big Ten honoree last season.