The No. 6 Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey team swept Ohio State this weekend in the Buckeyes’ last home series of the season.
OSU coach Jackie Barto said she was disappointed in the way her team played against a top Western Collegiate Hockey Association opponent.
“They skate. They’re fast,” Barto said. “We needed our best players to be our best players, and that didn’t happen.”
On a weekend when five senior Buckeyes skated at home for the last time, the team lost, 5-2, Friday and, 5-1, Saturday, which was Senior Day.
“They’ve been part of the program for four years,” Barto said. “They’ve seen the program grow and develop. They’ve all had their individual way of contributing to the program.”
The Buckeyes (14-16-2, 8-16-2 WCHA) have now lost four straight games, while the Bulldogs (18-7-3, 16-7-3 WCHA) have won their last six.
The Buckeyes came out physical Friday night with big checks and scuffles after the whistle. The tough play filled both teams’ penalty boxes throughout the game, but each team only managed to get one power-play goal.
OSU continued to struggle on the power play, only converting on one of its 11 opportunities in the series.
The Buckeyes took the lead early with a power-play goal, scored by junior forward Laura McIntosh on a wrist shot from the blue line that was deflected a couple of times before sneaking in between senior goalie Kim Martin’s legs.
“We have a really good rivalry with this team,” senior forward Jenna Kilpatrick said, “so playing ’em every shift and leaving it all on the ice is what we want to do.”
The Bulldogs were able to counter.
With 3:21 left in the first, freshman goalie Lisa Steffes blocked a shot while going down on the ice, but could not cover the puck before Bulldog senior forward Elin Holmlov managed to flip it over Steffes’ pads.
Steffes set an OSU record for saves in a season in the first period, surpassing Liana Bonanno, who recorded 886 saves in the 2008–09 season. Steffes has made 939 saves this year.
In the second period, everything went wrong for the Buckeyes as they allowed three more goals, one of which was shorthanded.
OSU was able to score one more goal in the third. Senior forward Christina Mancuso passed the puck up the ice to junior forward Kim Theut, who skated along the glass before passing it across the crease to trailing freshman forward Ally Tarr who jammed it in.
Mancuso, whose career is winding down at OSU, brought energy to the ice with big hits and aggressive play.
“‘Cusi’ Mancuso, she always plays hard,” Barto said. “She’s a gritty, tenacious forward who’s always gonna be involved in creating havoc for the other team.”
As the seniors finished their last home series, they said they realized their time as Buckeyes was coming to a close.
“It is our last two games as seniors here at Ohio State,” defenseman Shannon Reilly said, “so we give it all we got.”
Defenseman Teal Bishop said she wanted to impart the wisdom she has gained over the past four years to the underclassmen.
“Do the little things,” she said, “and it will come.”
Captain Mancuso said she wants to make sure she finishes her career off right, leading the Buckeyes down the stretch.
“I think it’s hit me, and it’s sad. I’m just trying to make the most of all the shifts I have left and just keep working hard,” she said. “Going out with a bang.”
OSU finishes the regular season at 3 p.m. (2 p.m. CST) Friday and Saturday at Bemidji State (12-15-3, 10-13-3 WCHA) in Minnesota.