Badgers keying in on stopping Ohio State superstar Mason Jobst this weekend

Mason Jobst racked up eight points against UW last season, including an assist on a last minute goal that sent its game in Madison Square Garden to overtime.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Hockey is truly a team sport, and, as such, when Wisconsin is preparing for an opponent, it makes itself aware of the strengths and weaknesses of most of the players on the opposing roster. Still, in some cases, when the other team has an elite player, Wisconsin focuses its attention on stopping them individually.

While preparing for this weekend’s home series against No. 19 Ohio State (0-0), the coaching staff of the No. 12 Badgers (1-0) will be doing just that, emphasizing how to defend against Mason Jobst, the Buckeyes’ superstar junior forward.

“We do [prepare for him individually]. We don’t spend a lot of time dissecting the other team as far as changing our game plan, but we will make them aware of their elite players,” head coach Tony Granato said. “If there’s a guy with some unusual skill, or, someone like a [Steven] Stamkos that can one-time the puck from a certain position, we will just make our team aware of it.”

Not only is the coaching staff telling its players to watch out for Jobst, but the team has been talking about him in its locker room for the better portion of the last year.

“I mean, even on our team, we all talk about him,” junior forward Will Johnson said. “We talk about how fast he is and how skilled he is. He’s an incredible player.”

Simply, Jobst is one of the best and most recognized players in all of the Big Ten, and even the nation. Jobst played in all 39 of OSU’s games last season, totaling 55 points (first on the team, seventh nationally) off 19 goals (second on the team) and 36 assists (first, tied-second) and finishing the year plus-12. Ohio State’s standout was even better in conference play last season, leading the Big Ten with 38 and 24 assists. Eight of those 38 came in five games against the Badgers, where Jobst tore through UW’s defense, totaling six assist and two goals.

Not only is Jobst prolific offensively, but he does everything for the Buckeyes including playing the power play and penalty kill (where he scored two shorties), while also winning face-offs (54.9 percent).

After his genuinely ridiculous sophomore campaign, Jobst was named First-Team All Big Ten and a Second-Team All-American.

“His speed was unbelievable,” Johnson said. “It seems like it’s a combination of all of these skill traits with him. He’s good at everything, and it makes him really tough to play against and even more fun to watch.”

Ohio State, though, isn’t solely a one man show. They do have some other good pieces, including junior forward Dakota Joshua, who was fourth in scoring for Ohio State last season with 35 points. Senior forward Matthew Weis will also make an impact this season, as he and Jobst were named to the preseason Big Ten watch list.

Still, Ohio State is returning less than 70 percent of its scoring (as opposed to the Badgers’ 76 percent), mostly resulting from the loss of Nick Schilkey and David Gust, who both graduated after last season. Accordingly, Jobst will have to play even better this season, and Ohio State’s success will primarily hinge on the production of the star centerman.

Fortunately for the Buckeyes, Jobst really is that good and puts incredible pressure on every opposing defense he faces.

“He’s just really skilled, like really elusive. He’s a little smaller but really quick,” senior defenseman Jake Linhart said. “For those really skilled guys, you don’t want to bum rush them like an idiot because you’re going to look stupid. You just have to give him space and read the play and if there is a chance to either pokecheck the puck away or body him into the boards, then you have to take that opportunity.”

Puck drop for the Badgers’ opening Big Ten action will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the Kohl Center, followed by a 5 p.m. puck drop the next day. Wisconsin won the season series 3-2 last year, and even though Wisconsin looks improved from last season, while Ohio State has lost some top talent, every Big Ten game is competitive, and UW will need to execute in order to win. Mostly though, if Wisconsin wants to have success this weekend, it will need to contain Jobst.

“With any team, you’re looking for their top line knowing that that’s your number one target that you have to shut down,” Johnson said. “When you go out there you know that [Jobst] is somebody that you have to keep a second eye on. You can’t just be noticing him in the background, you have to be focused on what he’s doing at all times.”

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