After two weeks on the road facing consecutive Top 10 teams, the No. 4 Ohio State women’s hockey team returns home to face another tough test, this time in a matchup between Olympic goaltenders.
The Buckeyes (7-3, 3-1 WCHA) take on St. Cloud State (4-6, 2-4 WCHA) in a conference showdown that pits former teammates against each other. Ohio State freshman goaltender Andrea Braendli and junior goaltender Janine Alder of St. Cloud State were both members of the Swiss National Team in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
“We’re going to come across a very good goaltender and it’s going to be Swiss Olympic goalie versus Swiss Olympic goalie so that will be fun,” Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said. “St. Cloud is coming off a very big win against at that time the No. 5 Minnesota Duluth team, so we just really need to play as a unit of five in the offensive zone and I think great things will happen.”
The Huskies have momentum on their side, coming off a ranked win against now-No. 7 Minnesota Duluth, but the Buckeyes are fresh off a ranked win of their own, a 6-1 victory against No. 10 St. Lawrence.
If Ohio State wants to build off that momentum, it will have to be more disciplined on the ice. Over two games, Ohio State had thirteen total penalties, two of which were converted into power play goals by the Saints, which led to its loss on Friday.
“I think we just need to learn to be more disciplined with our sticks,” redshirt junior Jincy Dunne said. “It’s one thing to be aggressive with your body but we have to clear up our stick play as well and play an aggressive smart style.”
Defense should not be the issue with Ohio State. Braendli is coming off a 42-save game and is continuing on an impressive rookie campaign. The Buckeyes currently rank No. 3 in the NCAA in team saves with 298. Defense is also not the issue for St. Cloud State, as the Huskies are No. 2 in the nation with 358 saves.
Ohio State can look to several players to contribute on the offensive front. Senior forward Charly Dahlquist was named WCHA forward of the week for her performance against St. Lawrence, where she scored two goals and had two assists.
“Charly has been the backbone to the majority of our success offensively,” Muzerall said. “She does all the dirty areas, she’s the five-footer in front of the net, in the corners and she’s going to set up the play. She may not get the assist, but she’s going to do the legwork, the blue-collar stuff behind the scenes that’s going to create a turnover and create an offensive opportunity. Charly is very underrated, and I am glad she got the recognition she is so deserving of.”
The Buckeyes play two home games this weekend against St. Cloud State at OSU Ice Rink at 6 p.m. on Friday and 3 p.m. on Saturday.