After sweeping its opening series against Lindenwood last weekend, the Ohio State women’s hockey team is set to stay on the road for its third and fourth games of the season against the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday and Sunday.
In its first two games under new coach Jenny Potter, OSU scored eight goals on 60 shots and controlled virtually every category in the box score.
Despite the two victories, the team knows it will have to make adjustments before facing the high-scoring Badgers.
“I think with a new coach and new systems, they did a fantastic job adapting to those new systems, I think that (Lindenwood) only scored one power-play goal,” Potter said. “I know the first night we killed 11 penalties. I think they did a great job. We know we can get better, but I think they are working really hard and we’re learning.”
The physical Buckeyes face a new set of challenges against Wisconsin.
The Badgers had the second-ranked Western Collegiate Hockey Association offense in 2014-15, the top-ranked power play attack and scored 13 goals in their first two games of the 2015-16 season.
This year’s OSU squad has said it prides itself on an up-tempo, physical style, so to combat the high-powered Badgers, it might end up committing penalties.
“Obviously I don’t want to take penalties, but where we are in our system and as a team there might be some penalties,” Potter said.
The sentiment that this team expects to take penalties is consistent with Potter’s skaters, who believe an aggressive style suits them.
“I think we’re playing a very aggressive style this year that not a lot of people have seen before, so matching their speed that (Wisconsin) is notorious for is a big part of what we are trying to do,” freshman defender Lauren Boyle said.
Boyle believes the team’s effort in the weight room overpowered Lindenwood. The level of aggressive style OSU plays with comes from that hard work in the weight room, which causes the penalties — not chippy play.
OSU is confident that as the season rolls on, it will be able to compliment its physical game with the offense necessary to beat a high-scoring team like Wisconsin.
“It’s about going out and playing our game and worrying about what we can do,” sophomore forward Lauren Spring said. “I think we have a lot of girls who are just as fast as them, so I think if anything we’ll be able to match them or out-skate them.”
For a program that ranked No. 18 in total offense last season, the team is confident that it will be able to score enough goals this season to contend with the top teams in the nation to compliment its physical style of play.
“I don’t think we’re going to struggle to put the puck in the net this weekend,” Boyle said. “Because of all the conditioning we’re doing, I don’t think they’re going to keep up with us by the third period. I don’t think anyone is doing what we’re doing.”
The Buckeyes will look to keep up their strong start against Wisconsin. Puck drop is set for 3:07 p.m.