In a bit of a surprise, the Ohio State mens hockey team was picked to finish second in the Big Ten conference for the upcoming 2016-17 season, ahead of powerhouse rival Michigan, upcoming Penn State and Tony Granato-infused Wisconsin.
Ohio State returns nearly all of its contributors from last season, aside from captain and defenseman Craig Dalrymple, so many must see the team as an upcoming and improving squad, with contributions last season from young players like Mason Jobst expected to increase as they gain more maturity.
And it doesn’t hurt that the Bucks return a First Team All-Big Ten defenseman in Josh Healey and a Second Team All-Big Ten forward in Nick Schilkey. David Gust will hope to build on his breakout season while Tanner Laczynski hopes to provide even more scoring depth to a team already deep in it.
I may be burying the lead here, but the Buckeyes also received 33 votes in the preseason USCHO Top 25 poll. Unlike in the conference coaches' rankings, the Buckeyes trail No. 11 Michigan and Penn State in addition to No. 13 Minnesota. Wisconsin also received ten votes themselves, likely all due to the Tony Granato hiring.
I’m not sure I’d as optimistic as to put the Buckeyes among the top 25 teams going into the upcoming season, but if the young scoring talent keeps progressing and the defense can find a suitable replacement for Dalrymple, anything’s possible.