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Coach pleased with OSU women’s hockey team’s progress despite losses to top-ranked Wisconsin

The top-ranked Wisconsin Badgers swept the No. 10-ranked Ohio State women’s hockey team at the OSU Ice Rink on Friday and Saturday.

Wisconsin dominated Friday night with a 6-2 blowout, but the Buckeyes fared slightly better Saturday, losing a close game 5-3.

“That’s the consistency we have to have now as a team … no matter who we are playing, No. 1 or No. 20,” said OSU coach Jackie Barto.

Down one goal with less than a minute to go, the Buckeyes pulled their goalie. Junior defenseman Kelly Wild ripped a slap shot that banked off the crossbar, barely missing an opportunity to tie the game. The Badgers quickly swept the puck down the ice and scored an empty-net goal to bury the Buckeyes.

“It’s a game of inches, you know,” Barto said. “An inch there and we tie that game.”

Sophomore forward Paige Semenza said the puck just slid in.

“It went in secretly is all I have to say,” said Semenza, who scored one of the Buckeyes’ two shorthanded goals Friday night.

The win extended Wisconsin’s winning streak to eight, with an overall record of 20-2-0. The Buckeyes fell to 10-10-2 for the season.

Natalie Spooner and Laura McIntosh, the Buckeyes’ lead scorers, missed the series as they competed on Canada’s National Women’s Under-22 Team in Switzerland. The two faced off against a third Buckeye, Annie Svedin, a freshman defenseman competing on the Swedish national team. Spooner and McIntosh came out on top with gold, as Canada defeated Sweden in the championship game.

McIntosh leads the team in points with 31 — eight goals and 23 assists. Spooner leads in goals with 17.

“You put those guys back in the lineup and we’re a different team,” Barto said. “I think it’s gonna be a lot of energy coming back in, and we will be fine. They bring us depth, and they bring us skill.”

Junior forward Melissa Feste stepped up to fill the void, scoring twice on Saturday to bring her season total to three goals. Sophomore forward Hokey Langan continued to stay hot as she got her 13th goal of the year, scoring in her third straight game. Freshman goalie Lisa Steffes allowed 11 goals in the two games but totaled 73 saves.

“We showed that we can play with anyone, even with people missing if we just play together and communicate,” Feste said.

Barto said the team is on a good track.

“You focus on the performance, and you focus on the effort,” Barto said. “I tell you if we play this way our remaining 12 WCHA games, we’ll be happy to see results.”

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