The Ohio State women’s ice hockey team (7-15-0, 3-13-0) looks to continue its improved play as it returns home over the weekend to face St. Cloud State. Despite two losses last weekend to the University of Minnesota, the team has shown signs of growth after a rough start under first-year coach Jenny Potter.
“I think a lot goes to show from this last weekend playing Minnesota,” senior forward Kendall Curtis said. “The first time we played them (in October) we lost by quite a bit in both games and this weekend, at least the first game, we held them to a 2-1 game the whole time.”
OSU is set to face the St. Cloud State Huskies (10-8-2, 6-8-2) who are coming off a win at Minnesota State last weekend. The Buckeyes last played the Huskies at the end of November in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and lost both games in the series, 3-2 and 4-1.
St. Cloud State is currently fifth in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings, while OSU sits in seventh out of eight teams. The Buckeyes hope to close some of the 12-point gap between the two teams during the weekend series.
The team has been focused on improving its conditioning throughout the season, and some players believe it is now a strength they can rely on.
“We’ve been working a lot on our conditioning,” senior defender Cara Zubko said. “I think that’s going to be a big aspect in our game.”
The players are confident in their preparation and said they hope it translates to improved results.
“(We’re) a completely different team,” Curtis said. “The amount of work that we have put in every single week, we get a lot stronger and every single week we’re together and run through our systems; we’re getting stronger.”
Signs of growth
OSU believes it has grown and changed a lot since those two losses to St. Cloud State earlier in the season.
“We played St. Cloud earlier in the year,” Zubko said. “So every game since then has just been another step in the right direction for us.”
Instead of concentrating on its opponent, the team has been focusing on its strengths and growing collectively.
“We haven’t focused on St. Cloud as a team specifically; we try to focus more on our team rather than the opponent,” Zubko said. “We’re just going to focus on our team and see what we can do in the next couple days.”
Curtis said she believes focusing on the Huskies rather than playing OSU’s brand of hockey led to a disappointing result last time the teams met.
“We’re trying to just stay with our game,” Curtis said. “I think the last time we played them we got away from what we do and who we are.”
The skaters think they will also see an improved opponent when they face St. Cloud State again, but they want to focus on their own abilities.
“Any hockey team is going to get better as the year goes on and the hockey gets better,” Zubko said. “I think you have to expect that from any opponent that you’re going in to. They’re going to be better, but we’re going to be better too.”
The puck is scheduled to drop at the OSU Ice Rink at 7 p.m. on Friday and 4 p.m. on Saturday.
After the Huskies
Following the weekend series, OSU is set to return to action in Mankato, Minnesota, against last-place Minnesota State on Jan. 22 and 23. Both games are scheduled to begin at 3:07 p.m.