The planning for a new ice hockey facility is officially underway! Pending the Board of Trustees approval, the new rink would be for both the men’s and women’s programs. Construction would start in 2024, and the estimated finish would be in 2026. This has been long overdue for both programs.
Over the past decade, head coach Steve Rohlik of the men’s team has taken this team back into championship contention. The Buckeyes made three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (2017-19) and were poised for a program-record fourth straight trip when the remainder of the season was canceled in 2020.
Among the NCAA trips was a Frozen Four berth in 2018, the first for the program in 20 years. In 2018-19, he guided the squad to the first Big Ten regular season title in program history. He has made Buckeye hockey consistently one of the top teams in the conference.
Currently, they are ranked No. 10 in the country with a 17-11-2 record. Three Big Ten teams are ranked ahead of them with No. 2 Minnesota, No. 4 Michigan and No. 7 Penn State. The Buckeyes are 10-9-1 in conference play.
The men’s team plays their home games in The Schottenstein Center. Ohio State is 12th in the nation in attendance for the sport, averaging about 5,000 fans per game. However, when Penn State came to Columbus, the game was sold out— over 17,000 fans came! The sport is quickly becoming more popular among students and fans alike.
As for the women, I think everyone knows how amazing they are, and if you don’t, where have you been? Simply put, head coach Nadine Muzerall has done a total 180 on this program. In just six seasons, she led the team to its very first national championship during a record-breaking 2021-22 campaign that saw the Buckeyes earn their very first No. 1 national ranking and No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed.
The team has gotten better each year of Muzerall’s tenure. In just her second year at the helm, Muzerall took the Buckeyes to where they had never been before, making the NCAA tournament and NCAA Frozen Four for the first time in program history. Since then, the team has made the Frozen Four two more times, made an NCAA Tournament appearance in the first round and obviously won the entire thing!
Once again this year, Ohio State is on top as they are No. 1 in the nation with a 27-3-2 record with just two games remaining in the regular season. As a little promotion for the team, now is the perfect time to start paying attention to them if you haven’t already, as the postseason starts next week!
Unfortunately for the women, they have had to play in one of the worst arenas in collegiate hockey. Muzerall has been quoted with telling Eleven Warriors, “We’ve won with, let’s be honest, the ugliest rink in collegiate hockey and we still won a national championship.” The OSU Ice Rink was built in 1961 with 1,000 seats. Many times this season, students have been turned away because there isn’t enough room for them to attend games.
Therefore, a new rink is definitely necessary for both teams, especially for the women who deserve to have more than 1,000 fans cheer them on, and receive nicer facilities. As the proposal states, the new facility will include team locker rooms, an athlete lounge, a dining and nutrition area, support services for the men’s and women’s hockey teams, offices for their coaches and training facilities along with expanded seating capacity and broadcasting capabilities over the current OSU Ice Rink.
Let’s all hope the proposal is approved so construction can start ASAP! The Buckeye hockey program deserves it!