Ohio State University haswon 88 national championships in 15 different sports. Ten different OSU men’s varsity sports programs own national titles.
Ice hockey is not one of those programs.
All-time, the Buckeyes have a sub-.500 record (818-836-138) and have been to the Frozen Four only once in 1998. With a 15-11-4 record this season, however, which has them on pace for their first winning season since 2008-09, the Buckeyes could be described as a team on the rise.
Minooka Community High School junior Tanner Laczynski wants to join that team. In late November, Laczynski committed to OSU, where he will receive a full athletic scholarship. He also will join an extended family member in the Buckeyes’ athletic fold; his cousin, Taylor Schissler, is a freshman on the women’s soccer team.
“She just told me that the campus is unbelievable. The atmosphere at hockey games is unbelievable,” Laczynski said. “When I visited there, I just fell in love with everything. It’s not just the hockey, it’s the people. The coach [Steve Rohlik] is highly respected. He’s a straight-up guy.”
Laczynski could be described as a player on the rise. A member of the Chicago Mission U16 Midget Minor team, he leads the High Performance Hockey League’s Midget Minor division in goals with 20 and in points with 38. His point total, as of Monday, was 11 more than his closest competitor.
According to Laczynski, he has been the leading scorer, or at least one of the leading scorers on every team he has played on since he joined a house team with the Joliet Jaguars when he was about 3-years-old. He remained with the Jaguars for several years and has been with the Mission since it was formed a few years ago.
“He has been a positive asset to every team he has been on, and I’m confident he will continue this trend,” Mission Midget Minor coach Greg Tam said in a release about Laczynski’s commitment to OSU. “It’s been a privilege watching Tanner mature over the years. Ohio State University will be receiving a tremendous hockey player and family. Congratulations to the Laczynski family.”
The commitment is only one of several major hockey-related developments involving Laczynski from the past calendar year. In April, he was part of the Mission’s 16-and-under USA Hockey national championship team. Laczynski produced four goals and seven assists, as the Mission went 6-0 between pool play and the championships.
“We were one of the favorites to win, but we weren’t like a shoe-in to win,” Laczynski said. “That was truly something to remember. To be known as a national champion and as one of the 32 kids to win nationals in that year is something special.”
About a month later, Laczynski was drafted by the Chicago Steel in the fourth round of the 2013 United States Hockey League Futures Draft.
Though he is primarily playing with the Mission this winter, the Steel retain his rights, and when his schedule allows it, he can get a game in with the Steel. He already has played in two. Should the Mission season end early, he could then play out the rest of the season with the Steel, but if the Mission make a run to nationals again, the schedules would overlap.
By next winter, Laczynski hopes to be playing more regularly with the Steel. He plans to graduate early from MCHS, which would allow him to make Steel practices that are held during school hours.
His affiliation with them could extend beyond next year. Should there not be a spot on the team at OSU for him during his would-be freshman season, Laczynski could return to the area, play juniors hockey with the Steel, take college courses online and start his Buckeyes career the following season.
“I guess it all depends on how physically developed they feel I am, and how much stronger and bigger I’ve gotten,” Laczynski said.