The Ohio State women’s ice hockey team continues its road stand over the weekend, as it is set to travel to the University of Minnesota Duluth to take on the Bulldogs on Friday and Saturday.
Over the last few weeks the Buckeyes (8-17-1, 4-15-1) have focused on getting goals off rebounds. That led to 11 goals last weekend in two games at Minnesota State.
“I think we just implemented what we had been practicing all week (by) taking pucks to the net,” assistant coach Carson Duggan said. “When we did that we either ended up scoring or drawing a penalty or we got a great scoring chance. So (it’s) a pretty simple concept, but sometimes you just have to reiterate.”
Junior forward Claudia Kepler said that the offense ignited because of the players’ determination.
“We talked as a team and we decided we needed to move the puck a little faster and pick our head up and be confident with the puck,” Kepler said. “I think when we did those little things goals started coming.”
Duggan thinks the team needs to carry this improved mindset into the weekend series against the Bulldogs.
“I hope some of the girls are a little bit confident going into this weekend and translate what they did,” Duggan said. “Just taking it to the net and not giving up a good shooting opportunity and getting those second and third chances.”
The team also cites its focus on small details as a reason for its improved offensive play.
“For the most part it was doing the little things and moving the puck well as a line and as a team in general,” Kepler said. “We need to continue to do those little things and win our battles.”
The Buckeyes believe that their offense starts with stout defensive play in front of sophomore goaltender Alex LaMere.
“If we can take care of our own end then the offensive zone will hopefully just come,” Duggan said. “So we can pick up where we left off against Mankato with getting pucks to the net and scoring some goals.”
Knowing the opponent
Minnesota Duluth (9-16-1, 6-13-1) currently sits five points ahead of the Buckeyes in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings heading into this weekend’s series. The Buckeyes expect to have a pair of close contests, but they’re looking to take their momentum from last weekend’s sweep to Duluth.
“It’s a lot of the same stuff,” Duggan said. “Duluth is a great team and we always play them really tight. They’re always really good games between the two programs.”
Minnesota Duluth, OSU coach Jenny Potter’s alma mater, is currently in the midst of a six-game losing streak. Its last win came against the Buckeyes on Dec. 12. The two teams know each other well, and the Buckeyes are expecting two hard-fought contests.
“Duluth is a tough team to play against, especially in the corners,” Kepler said. “They like to battle, so if we win our battles and we do the little things like we did this past weekend, I think we’ll have a good couple games up there.”
The games are set to begin this weekend in Duluth, Minnesota, at 8:07 p.m. on Friday and 5:07 p.m. on Saturday.
Beyond the Bulldogs
After squaring off with Minnesota Duluth, OSU is slated to take on a team that is on a different path than the Bulldogs, in No. 2 Wisconsin.
The Badgers boast a seven-game unbeaten streak and a 24-1-1 record overall. The two-game series is scheduled to be in Columbus with games on Feb. 5 and Feb. 6.