Ohio State announced on Saturday that former Wisconsin Badgers assistant coach Mark Osiecki, 41, has been tabbed as its head coach for the 2010-11 season, replacing 15-year coach John Markell.
“I think Johnny right before me did a great job,” Osiecki said. “I don’t think anybody, including myself, would have looked at [Ohio State’s] program if it weren’t for those guys building that program and building the tradition it has.”
Osiecki has an extensive playing and coaching career, having played for the Badgers for three seasons in the late 1980s followed by playing in the NHL for six seasons for the Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators and Minnesota North Stars. Before being an assistant for the Badgers, he coached and managed the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL.
“Well, when they offered, I was shocked,” Osiecki said. “I don’t know if I can put words to how I felt.”
He has been an assistant at Wisconsin for six years under head coach Mike Eaves. The Badgers finished this season as runners-up to Boston College.
Osiecki was picked out of a pool of over 60 candidates, said Chris Schneider, the Ohio State assistant athletic director who oversees the hockey program. Schneider would not go into details about salary and who applied.
“What really stuck out about Mark in this process is that as a player, he won at basically every level he competed in,” Schneider said. “He has a very strong history of identifying great talent but also developing them. That is something we think is going to be a great thing for our program.”
Osiecki was interviewed by a panel including assistant captains Sergio Somma and Peter Boyd.
“All [the candidates] were qualified, all that had interviews had good attributes as coaches and people,” Somma said. “The big thing with him was he has won at every level. He also has played at a high level.”
Osiecki will come in with a veteran-led group with 11 seniors including top goaltender Dustin Carlson and six juniors.
“You’ll see that he has a passion for the game,” Schneider said. “He also has a passion for the student athletes. He is an educator by nature. And then he enjoys identifying talent and helping them grow not just as hockey players but as individuals.”
As Ohio State has not participated in the NCAA tournament four of the last five seasons, Somma said the expectations for the upcoming season will be higher with Osiecki behind the bench.
“The players are ultimately the ones on the ice so we have to do our part on the ice,” Somma said. “We feel like, going into next year, we have enough talent and enough players to win.”
“We are going to hold [the players accountable] and expect and demand a great effort every single day and night,” Osiecki said. “And that is not just on the ice. It is going to be in the community — they have to give back to the community. They have to be great in the classroom.”