COLUMBUS, Ohio -- JB Bittner, a two-time captain for the Ohio State men's hockey team, is returning to his alma mater as an assistant coach, Steve Rohlik, Ohio State head coach, announced Friday. Bittner comes to Ohio State after serving as the associate head coach of the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the United States Hockey League (USHL) last season.
Bittner, a forward for the Buckeyes from 2002-05, has coaching experience at the professional, collegiate and junior levels, along with international competition with Team USA.
"We are thrilled to bring JB and his family back to Ohio State," Rohlik, entering his fifth year at the helm of the Buckeyes, said. "He is a tremendous person who has made a big impact everywhere he has coached. His work ethic, competitive spirit and passion for this university will be infectious among our players and recruits. He truly bleeds scarlet and gray."
With Dubuque, Bittner, a Pittsburgh native, was involved in all aspects of the team as the squad reached the USHL Eastern Conference Final. He was on the Team USA staff at the 2016 World Junior A Challenge during the winter, helping the team to the gold medal.
"Columbus is home," Bittner said. "My wife Katie and I are excited to return to a place that is very special to both of us. As an alum of the hockey program, I have kept up with the team and know we have a bright future. I can't wait to hit the ground running as we prepare for the upcoming season and the years ahead."
Dubuque was Bittner's second stint in the USHL. He spent two seasons with the Tri-City Storm (2013-14, 2014-15) as an assistant coach; the team led the USHL in goals-against average in 2015. Prior to his first USHL post, Bittner was behind the bench for two campaigns as an assistant coach with the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays (2011-12, 2012-13). He was on the Ohio State staff from 2008-11, serving as an assistant coach in 2009-10 and as the video coordinator for two seasons. The team earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament in 2009. He also spent one year as assistant coach at Big Ten member Wisconsin (2015-16).
Bittner played for the Buckeyes from 2002-05, competing in 160 games to rank fifth in program history in career games played and posting 37 goals, 39 assists and 76 points. He was captain of the 2004 CCHA Super Six Championship team and on three NCAA tournament squads. Bittner received the team's Joseph W. Smith Best Defensive Player award (one of only 11 forwards in program history to earn the award) and was the Scarlet and Gray award winner, given to the most intense player, in 2003 and '05.
Bittner spent three years playing professionally after his time with the Scarlet and Gray, spending time with a number of teams, including Portland and Iowa in the American Hockey League. He was a member of the Florida Everblades in the ECHL his last year as a professional but injuries kept him out of the lineup throughout the campaign.
Bittner earned his bachelor's degree in sport and leisure studies from Ohio State in Summer 2005. He and his wife, Katie, also an Ohio State graduate, have two children, Sydney and Benson.
The Buckeyes were 21-12-6 in 2016-17 and earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament, marking the squad's first appearance since 2009. The team led the NCAA on the power play (31.6 percent) and was third nationally in goals per game (3.92). The squad opens its regular season Oct. 6-7 at Wisconsin and hosts RPI Oct. 13-14 to begin its home regular season slate.