The Ohio State women’s hockey team (14-5-4, 8-2-4 WCHA) opened a two-game home series against the Robert Morris Colonials (12-5-3, 6-2-2 CHA) with a 5-0 shutout victory Friday night at OSU Ice Rink.
Ohio State redshirt junior goalie Kassidy Sauve stopped all 34 shots that came her way, claiming her seventh shutout of the season.
Sophomore forward Rebecca Freiburger opened up the scoring frenzy for the Buckeyes seven minutes into the game, with assists from junior forward Grace Zarzecki and senior defenseman Liv Halvorson. The goal was Freiburger’s third of the season.
With less than two minutes left in the opening period, freshman forward Tatum Skaggs gave Ohio State a two-goal cushion and scored her first goal of the game off assists from senior forward Julianna Iafallo and junior defenseman Lauren Boyle, sending the Buckeyes into the second period with a 2-0 lead.
Sauve said while crucial for the team to get an early lead, it didn’t mean the Buckeyes could play less aggressively.
“It’s just one of those things where no matter what the circumstances, you have to battle and work hard,” Sauve said. “Whether you’re down one or up one, the whole team has to come together and play as one.”
The Buckeyes entered the second period eager to give their lead some insurance. Freshman forward Emma Maltais was quick to answer Sauve’s desire for more goals and scored one minute into play. The goal was her ninth of the season.
Skaggs found the back of the net again less than three minutes later, scoring her 15th goal of the season and increasing the Buckeyes’ lead to four. Head coach Nadine Muzerall said it was important for the team to remain level-headed in order to maintain the lead in the third period.
“We’re really big on just maintaining the composure,” Muzerall said. “We say sometimes, ‘Put a stick of gum in your mouth and just relax.’ We got that from one of the parents… and I loved it because it’s just saying, ‘Relax. You know what to do.’”
Junior forward Maddy Field scored the Buckeyes’ fifth goal 38 seconds into the third period to give the home team a 5-0 lead, which it would hold for the remainder of the game. Despite having three power plays in the third period, one of them being a three-versus-five advantage, the Colonials’ efforts weren’t enough to get the puck in the back of Ohio State’s net. The Buckeyes skated away from the game with their 14th win of the season.
Ohio State will have the chance to sweep the weekend series Saturday, something it has not done since mid-November.
“I think the challenging piece is to repeat and see if you can do what you did all over again, because that’s the hardest part, “Muzerall said. “It’s always harder on Saturday than it is on Friday.”
The Buckeyes and the Colonials will conclude the two-game series at 3:07 p.m. Saturday at the OSU Ice Rink.