ASU Hockey: Q&A with Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik

ST PAUL, MN - MARCH 22: The Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate a goal during the Big Ten Men's Ice Hockey Championship game against the Wisconsin Badgers on March 22, 2014 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
ST PAUL, MN - MARCH 22: The Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate a goal during the Big Ten Men's Ice Hockey Championship game against the Wisconsin Badgers on March 22, 2014 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

ASU hockey is set to host the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes in Tempe this weekend. Devils in Detail spoke to OSU head coach Steve Rohlik leading up to the series.

Rohlik will begin his sixth season as the Ohio State head coach when his team takes on Arizona State. Last year, he coached the Buckeyes to their first Frozen Four berth in 20 years. Rohlik was the 2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year and National Coach of the Year runner-up as his squad had one of the best seasons in program history with a 26-10-5 record.

Under Rohlik, OSU’s offense has been explosive. The Buckeyes are the only team to rank in the top five nationally in goals scored, goals per game and power play in the last three years combined. They return 21 players from last year’s squad.

OSU is ranked number one in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls for the first time in history since the polls began in the 1997-98 college hockey season.

Q: What are your expectations heading into Tempe this weekend?

A: “Well, number one, I know we gotta play our best hockey if you expect to win hockey games. And its no different, we played these guys two years ago. We know they’re well coached. They’ve got some guys now that have been around a while. They played their games this (past) weekend and they didn’t give up a goal in two nights. So, we gotta be at our best and that’s what we’re trying to do this week is just work hard and get better everyday.”

Q: How did the offseason go and what has been the atmosphere amongst your players?

A: “You lose six seniors, so every team’s different. For us, it started right away in May in our workouts, and this summer, and guys coming back here again in August. So far, the limited amount of time we’ve been able to be on the ice, certainly our guys are excited but they also know we are a long way away from being where we want to be. Again, it’s all about what we do Monday through Thursday that prepares ourselves for the weekend. They (ASU) got two games under their belt, which is huge I think, and for us not having played a game, it’ll be interesting just to see how we show up on Friday.”

Q: What was the experience of the Frozen Four like for you and your program?

A: “Certainly it was exciting and it speaks volumes of Ohio State and what our program is and where its been and the tradition and history we have. I think it just speaks to how hard it is to win at this level. You gotta cherish those moments when you’re there. It certainly stung to lose at that point, but I was proud of my guys, I was proud of our team, and I was proud of being a part of Ohio State. And I think we just gotta continue to think about taking steps forward.”

Q: What’s the mindset when you’re trying to get back to the Frozen Four this year?

A: “That’s such a long way away. For me, I’m really trying to focus on being our best for Friday night. That’s really our mindset. As soon as you start to get too far ahead of yourselves, you’re gonna start going backwards. And thats certainly not what I want or what our program wants. This is a different team than last year. It’s a different make-up. We’re just trying to get better right now and we just want to be at our best come Friday.”

Q: Who are some of the emerging players that you have on your roster heading into this season?

A: “We’re fortunate we got a pretty good nucleus and we got some guys that have played a few years. Guys like Mason Jobst and Dakota Joshua, Tanner Laczynski, those are three of the forwards that have been around for a while. Sasha Larocque, senior defenseman, and (Sean) Romeo, senior goalie. We’ve got a few seniors and a few guys that have been around, and they are kind of the nucleus. The culture of our program is kind of surrounding these guys.”

Q: How has your offense been able to be so successful with you as the head coach?

A: “We want to get up the rink. We want to be a transition team. I want guys to come in here and develop as they are a part of this program. Sometimes we make some mistakes on the ice, but I certainly want guys to have the luxury to go out there and try to be creative. I always think a good defense leads to a good offense. I certainly think we incorporated that end of it last year, and that’s very important. Development at the end of the day, allowing these guys to be creative, but at the same sense, be responsible. I’m fortunate we’ve been surrounded by some pretty good people and some pretty good staff around me that certainly helps in that development part of your game.”

Q: What are the steps that you’ve taken as the Ohio State head coach to get the program where it is now after being hired just over half a decade ago?

A: “It starts with surrounding yourself with great people, and I’m fortunate to have great people around me. And then, it’s the resources. And the resources at Ohio State are phenomenal. My guys are surrounded with the best. We try to push in that area of strength coach to nutritionist to sports psychologist, right down the row. We try to put these things in front of ’em. When you have assistant coaches and people in place that I do on staff, you allow them to do what they do best and its certainly been a great culture here. I think all those things are a part of the development process.”

Q: What’s the atmosphere like there at Ohio State and are there any expectations or buzz being pressed on you?

A: “You want expectations on your team. To me, rankings right now at the beginning of the year really don’t mean much. For us, it doesn’t matter what we’re ranked right now. It’s all about what we do and what our preparation is and what our hard work is. And I think that’s what we’re bringing to the table. At the end of the year is when it really matters. With our women’s program doing very well, and the (Columbus) Blue Jackets doing very well, and our AAA program (Ohio Blue Jackets) in town, certainly hockey’s been a buzz around here which is great. At the end of the day though, we just know we’re really thankful to be a part of one of the most phenomenal athletic programs in all of college sports. That’s the fun part of what Ohio State is.”

Q: If you were to give advice to ASU that is a young program, what would it be?

A: “I don’t think I’d change anything of what they’re doing. Coach Powers has done a phenomenal job in the short three years there. They are as competitive as any team in college hockey. They’ve proven that already. At the end of the day, you believe in yourself, you do things what you think is the right way and you build a culture and you stick with it. I think that’s the key. He’s done a phenomenal job in those areas and certainly ASU is gonna have a lot of success now and in the future.”

Next. ASU Hockey: Five takeaways from victories over UAF. dark

All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.