The Ohio State women’s ice hockey team recorded its fifth series-losing sweep of the season in its 2015 finale to drop its record to 6-12-0 on the season.
The first period of both games ended with OSU trailing 2-1, and both were close, low-shot affairs dominated by special teams play. OSU was on the penalty kill 11 times on the weekend, including the final 10 minutes of the third period on Saturday. Eventually, frustration boiled over and OSU took a combined 27 minutes in penalties.
“Just the team being undisciplined, and that’s not how I run my team, so we’ve got to show more discipline, even when you’re frustrated,” coach Jenny Potter said. “Being undisciplined definitely hurts your team.”
On Friday, OSU fell 4-2 despite outshooting the Bulldogs 25-23. Senior forward Melani Moylan scored her first goal of the season just three minutes into the game, but Minnesota Duluth would tie it at 1-1 six minutes later off of junior Ashleigh Brykaliuk’s ninth goal of the season.
Sophomore Lauren Spring would score for OSU in the period’s closing minute to give the Buckeyes a 2-1 lead after the first.
The second period was mostly quiet for both teams except for Minnesota Duluth’s game-tying goal at 2:36 into the frame. Brykaliuk assisted on sophomore Catherine Daoust’s fourth goal of the season.
The third period would remain tied until the eighth minute, when Brykaliuk recorded her third point of the game, an assist on junior Sidney Morin’s first goal of the season.
With redshirt freshman goaltender Alex LaMere on the bench in favor of a sixth attacker, Brykaliuk would record her second goal and fourth point of the game, as Minnesota Duluth dashed OSU’s hopes of a comeback.
On Saturday, with redshirt senior Stacy Danczak now starting in goal, Minnesota Duluth scored first from senior Michela Cava’s ninth goal of the season. Junior forward Claudia Kepler would score to tie it at 1-1 for OSU.
“I don’t know how the puck got down low but (Moylan) had it pinned against the boards,” Kepler said. “I kind of pulled it from her feet and took it around the goalie and put it over her shoulder.”
After scoring just four goals in two games, the team was not satisfied with the number of chances it generated against Minnesota Duluth.
“Not really, we didn’t create enough,” junior defender Alexa Ranahan said. “But I know the girls worked as hard as we can, and I’m proud of the team.”
After the game, OSU sounded as if it plans to work on the offense in the next three weeks before its first game of the 2016 calendar year.
“Obviously, it doesn’t take too many chances, you got to bury the ones you get,” Potter said.
However, Potter was sure to credit her alma mater for its performance in limiting the Buckeyes’ attack in the two games.
“I think they competed all weekend,” she said. “It’s just a couple of breakdowns, so we’ve got to regroup and move forward.”
Despite the team’s level of competition, the weekend was defined by the final 10 minutes of the third period. While on the power play with just over eight minutes remaining in the game, freshman defender Lauren Boyle was called for interference. Before the resumption of play, freshman forward Maddy Field was assessed a 10-minute misconduct penalty.
With a four-to-three man advantage, senior defender Cara Zubko was given a five-minute penalty for contact to the head of an opponent and was assessed a game misconduct penalty, ejecting her from the contest.
“It was definitely chaotic,” Ranahan said. “It’s unfortunate that penalties ruined the momentum of the period. It’s hard as a player having so many stops, it’s frustrating, but that’s hockey.”
With three skaters in the penalty box and one in the dressing room, Minnesota Duluth was able to score its fifth goal of the game with six minutes remaining, leaving a bad taste in the mouth of the skaters.
“Penalties at the end don’t help,” Kepler said. “Whether we agree with them or not, it makes it way harder to come back and win hockey games.”
OSU will be off until Jan. 2, when it welcomes Penn State to Columbus for two games. Puck is scheduled to drop at 2:07 p.m. on Jan. 2, as well as the next day.
OSU scored first on Friday for the first time in three weeks, going back to the first period of its Nov. 20 game against St. Cloud State.
In addition to her first goal of the season, Moylan also recorded her first assist of the season on Kepler’s first-period goal.
With Danczak in goal, LaMere watched the game from the bench, ending her games-started streak at 10.
With two assists on Friday, Boyle has 10 points so far this season, moving her into a three-way tie for third.