Mark Osiecki Out as Ohio State's Men's Hockey Coach

By Jason Priestas on April 15, 2013 at 11:22a
Mark Osiecki is out at Ohio State after just a few seasons on the job.

In a stunner, Ohio State released a statement saying men's ice hockey coach Mark Osiecki was no longer the men's ice hockey coach:

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gene Smith, Ohio State associate vice president and director of athletics, announced today Mark Osiecki will not return as head coach of the Buckeye men’s hockey program.

"We are making a change in our head hockey coaching position," Smith said. "There was a difference of opinion over the management of the program that could not be resolved."

Osiecki just completed his third season at the helm of the Buckeyes. They finished 16-17-7 overall and 13-10-5 in the CCHA. Ohio State advanced to the semifinals of the CCHA Tournament but fell short of reaching the NCAAs for the fourth consecutive year. 

The Buckeyes had an historic collapse to close out the 2011-12 season. Ranked as high as No. 2 in the country, the team team sputtered during the second half of the season, winning just one of their final 16 games. 

Osiecki was 46-50-16 during his three seasons in Columbus. Prior to his stint at Ohio State, he was a successful assistant at the University of Wisconsin, head coach and GM in the USHL and an accomplished coach on the U.S. development circuit. 

Associate head coach Steve Rohlik will lead the program until a permanent replacement is hired.

UPDATE: Mark Osiecki was caught off guard.


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FROMTHE18's picture confused about this...

William's picture

What? Yeah they had a disappointing year, but this guy was starting to bring in some good talent. OSU Hockey looked like it was on the upswing. This is odd..

Texas Buckeye's picture

Forgive me for my ignorance with this question but what gives? I don't follow OSU hockey that much but from what I understand, the team wasn't that bad. Anybody have any idea as to why this move was made?

It's true... We really are a bunch of nuts!
Go Bucks!

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

He was under .500 in his tenure. That's worth a consideration, especially in light of the women's basketball coach who had a much better record being shown the door. Next year, it's the Big Ten for the Buckeye skaters and they need to get better to win it.

UrbzRenewal's picture

He was still rebuilding, and was bringing in serious talent. Holistically, the team was on the upswing and it was largely due to what he was doing. Unlike WBK, which was on the decline. 

NC_Buckeye's picture

Actually, ToledoJim is right. If it weren't for Big Ten play, Osiecki might have got another season or two. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan -- we can't compete with right now. Next year (under Osiecki) we would have started an annual battle with Michigan State and Penn State for third place. But having witnessed our game against Penn State in the Three Rivers Classic, I say with certainty that Guy Gadowsky is a better coach than Osiecki. IOW, I'm pretty sure we'd be fighting the Spartans to not end up in last place on a yearly basis.
But I don't think a fourth year would have mattered though.  Osiecki's mandate when he was hired was to be better than John Markell. Here's the two coaches' records over their first three seasons (I ignored Markell's first year since he took over Jerry Welsh's squad more than half-way thru the season.)
Osiecki 46-50-16
Markell 49-57-9
Markell took his team to a Frozen Four in his 3rd year.
This team has a lot of talent on it as much as Michigan has right now. But if you compare their two season's second halves, Red Berenson had his team playing like they knew they would win. Mark Osiecki's team was playing like they were afraid they would lose. The win over Ferris State in the CCHA tournament sealed this for me. There's no way that series should have gone to a third game.
Long story short, this was a good move if Smith has a Gadowsky-caliber coach already lined up. I hope that's the case.

UrbzRenewal's picture

It's clear that this wasn't due to his coaching performance. OSU cut him out due to some other discrepancy. Jeff Svoboda clarified this with an associate SID.

William's picture

Our talent level, and ability to draw in talent on a yearly basis doesn't match Michigan's. Sure they had a subpar year this year, but no one on OSU's roster is even close in terms of talent to a guy like Jacob Trouba on Michigan's roster. This firing had nothing to do with performance, Schneider and Smith have both said as much. I think it has to do with how Osiecki disagreed with how OSU Hockey was treated in the Athletic Department. Osiecki wanted the hockey teams (men and women's) to have their own hockey arena, which Smith has yet to even consider. The OSU Ice Rink is fine as a practice facility, but expecting the men's team to continue playing in the Schott is just stupid. That place is a barn during hockey games, because drawing 3,000-4,000 people does nothing to create an atmosphere in that building. I'd be in favor of OSU putting up a new ice rink where St. John is. 

NC_Buckeye's picture

That makes a lot of sense that they were fighting about a new arena. But that's even more depressing. This team is never going to get to the next level without a new arena.
Under Gene Smith, I could see a future where both ice hockey teams get axed. Such as if O'Bannon wins his lawsuit and athletic dept budgets tighten up to the point where a contraction has to occur. Ice hockey is a low priority for Smith.

drumsontheside's picture

There is public information on the University's 20 year plan for campus, it has sketches and estimates for the redesign of west campus, starting with the addition to the Schott. Included in the plans were a Men's Hockey Arena and a Women's Hockey Arena. Sketches and everything. They were nice looking. Unless something there is something that you've heard more recently, I don't think that a new rink was the issue since they're getting one.


William's picture

>20 year plan
>getting a rink
During what part of that plan are they getting a rink? The 20th year? That's the point. I bet Osiecki wanted real facilities now and Smith wouldn't play ball. 

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

TOSU will need to find about $100 million to build a new rink. That's the cost of the Huntington Center in Toledo. It seats 7,500 and you can get 700 more for standing room to make the capacity 8,200. Corporate suite and club seats are included in those figures. That would be sufficient for Buckeyes ice hockey, men and women.
The Huntington Center is a great place to watch hockey in Toledo. One problem is there is no overhead scoreboard. Otherwise, it's a state-of-the-art facility. The lack of an overhead scoreboard is another issue for discussion on another web site.
Years ago (can't remember exactly) I was at the Value City Arena for a OSU men's hockey game and there were almost 12,000 fans there. Atmosphere was fabulous.

NC_Buckeye's picture

Seen pictures of the Huntington Center. Pretty nice. That's real close to the Rockets campus. Wonder if UT has ever thought about starting a D-I hockey team.

TLB's picture

Osiecki wasn't there for the Penn St game.  He was assistant coach with the USA Jr Team winning gold.
This has everything to do with facilities.  Making them play their CCHA playoff game in the old ice rink is rediculous.

William's picture

Exactly. I can't believe Smith chose to host the DI High School Basketball tourney at the Schott instead of the CCHA hockey tourney. I'm sorry, but one is a high school tournament and the other is a collegiate tournament involving your university's team, it's ridiculous. Best of luck to Osiecki, he'll be hired very soon. 

NC_Buckeye's picture

Well, if he wasn't there I wonder who that guy with the goatee and in a sling was?
Osiecki was there. I watched him shake Gadowsky's hand after the game. I think a couple of online stories falsely reported that he was already in Russia.

Deshaun's picture

Contracts to host major events (like the one OSU has with the OHSAA to host the boys basketball state championship) are generally signed years in advance. The Buckeyes hosted an NIT game against California at St John Arena in 2008 because of a similarly scheduled Bruce Springsteen concert at the Schott. This was not a Gene Smith controlled issue.

NC_Buckeye's picture

Also with a goalie performing at the level that Hjelle was performing this year -- we should have had a shot at a regular season title and been a shoe-in for the NCAA tournament.
Talk about a wasted opportunity.

Buckeye Chuck's picture

I'm surprised. It seemed like they were doing OK, though the "breakthrough" season was slow in coming. 
I'm also very curious over what Smith means by "a difference of opinion over the management of the program." That seems like a deliberate choice of words, as in, team performance wasn't necessarily the problem here.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

rampageripster's picture

Bingo... there HAS to be something else going on behind the scene
This is Gene's first move in the coach hiring/firing process that has me scratching my head.  Coach Oz was a great hire, and now a confusing fire.

Cause I couldn't go for three

TLB's picture

Dumb move.  The guy is a pretty good coach.   Perhaps Gene wants Buckeye alum Paul Pooley to coach the team.

William's picture

Denver's former coach, Gwozdecky, is now available after being shown the door at Denver. OSU went after him a few years ago, but he turned them down. He'd be a solid hire. 

NC_Buckeye's picture

Wonder where Joe Exter will end up? I'd like to see him back in Columbus someday.

Deshaun's picture

1st of all, the timing seems strange 23 days after the OSU men's hockey season ends. Second, George Gwozdecky does look like a very good option. A number of Wisconsin fans want Mike Eaves fired and Gwozdecky hired. The guy won NCAA championships in 2004 and 2005, had a 62% winning percentage, and made the NCAA tournament 11 times at Denver (including the past 5 years in a row).

Kyle Rowland's picture

Gwozdecky has to be the odds-on-favorite to get the job. OSU wanted him bad the first time around.

Dayton Buckeye's picture

Hockey will never be a priority as OSU.  What a shame.  I thought he had the program moving the the right direction. They do need a rink.  The Schott is way too big. 

redfox's picture

They need to get rid of Gene Smith he is a poor excuse for a AD.

smith5568's picture

I disagree. We have one of the most successful over all athletic departments in the country, rivaled only by Florida, Texas, Stanford, and maybe USC. The grass is not always greener. I have long been disappointed in our Hockey and Baseball teams. I don't think the type of record these squads have put up in recent years is worthy of an OSU program. I want every aspect of our University, athletically and academically, to strive for excellence, not a "well it is good enough" attitude.     

BuckeyeLawyer's picture

Gene has done some good things, yes.  However, he also butchered the entire Jim Tressel situation and made Ohio State look worse than it needed to in the process.  Now he appears to be butchering the women's basketball coaching search.  Rumors on the internet is that he could have hired Gail Goestenkors (which would have been a home run IMO) but he offended her when she found out that she was not his first choice.  It has been nearly one month since Gene fired Foster and still nothing.  Imagine how bad this would look if we were talking about a higher profile sport (men's basketball or football).

BuckeyeLawyer's picture

Go figure I say ^ today and a women's basketball coach is hired today.