The Ohio State women’s hockey team will try to put an end to its three-game losing streak as the Buckeyes prepare for a weekend series against the University of North Dakota.
The Buckeyes (7-6-0, 5-5-0) hit the road this weekend to play UND (5-7-1, 3-6-1) in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association battle.
Last weekend, the Buckeyes dropped two games to No. 2 Minnesota to extend their losing streak to three. OSU coach Nate Handrahan said despite the team’s inability to pull out a win in those three games, its energy and morale hasn’t changed.
“We did a lot of good things inside those games against very good teams,” he said. “We need to make some adjustments but the players have done a good job of getting back to work.”
One thing that Handrahan has consistently worked on this season with his team is specialty situations and special teams play. This weekend, all of that practice will be put to the test.
So far this season, UND is undefeated when scoring on the power play.
“Coach really stressed in practice this week, being active and knowing their personnel,” OSU senior forward Taylor Kuehl said. “They have a couple great shooters that can really hit one-timers. Coach stressed knowing who is on the ice.”
Senior captain Sara Schmitt said, as a defensive player, killing the power play is something she has focused on personally.
“Just working on blocking shots and reading the play,” Schmitt said. “We have to clear the puck whenever we have the chance.”
UND coach Brian Idalski said that Schmitt is a key player for the Buckeyes both defensively and offensively.
“Defensively (OSU is) very strong, the Schmitt girls are terrific. In fact one of them (Sara Schmitt) is leading the team in scoring,” Idalski said during a Wednesday press conference. “Very aggressive fore-check. They are going to work hard all over the ice, a lot of physical battles. It’s going to be a grind.”
Schmitt’s sister — Kari — is also a senior defenseman for OSU.
Even though the Buckeyes excel in their defensive play, Kuehl said there is still work to be done offensively.
“We’ve struggled scoring goals. For offense we are still looking for production and chemistry between lines,” Kuehl said. “We’ve changed lines quite a bit this season and we are trying to find who works well together to create something specific, like aggressive lines or more skilled lines.”
One thing UND is set to have to their advantage for the series is their home ice support. Attendance at UND women’s hockey games is ranked third this season, while OSU is ranked 20th, according to U.S. College Hockey Online. UND averages an attendance of more than 1,314 where OSU averages an attendance of around 300.
Both Schmitt and Kuehl said that being seniors, they are use to stepping on the ice and having fans root against them. Kuehl said there is something about it that she actually likes.
“I think its fun playing in an atmosphere with a bunch of fans against us,” Kuehl said. “It’s a goal of ours to take the energy from them, play our game and take the crowd from them.”
The series between the teams is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at in Grand Forks, N.D. Friday’s game is set for an 8:07 p.m. start, with Saturday’s set to begin at 5:07 p.m.