Ohio State freshman forward Tatum Skaggs (11) races to the puck in the first period of the game against Minnesota on Jan. 19. Ohio State won 3-2. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Managing Editor for Design

The No. 5 Ohio State women’s hockey team returns to Columbus for its home opening weekend series against No. 8 Colgate.

The Buckeyes started their season off with two wins against Quinnipiac in Connecticut, winning both contests by scores of 3-2. Now, with opening jitters shaken off, the Buckeyes will find themselves tested early in the season against Colgate.

While Colgate might have already lost this season, splitting its series last weekend against unranked Penn State, the Raiders are still ranked in the top 10 and made it to the national championship last year, where they lost to Clarkson University 2-1 in overtime.

“We have to respect our opponent. They almost won it all last year,” Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said. “Even though they are coming off a loss, that can happen to anybody. We have to make sure we take our practices seriously and prepare. We are very excited to play them at home.”

To meet the test, the Buckeyes will look to players like sophomore forward Tatum Skaggs for quality play on the ice. Skaggs was a key factor in the victory over Quinnipiac on Saturday, scoring the last two goals for Ohio State to secure the win.

“I think the biggest thing about Saturday was the team was able to settle down,” Skaggs said. “We took a deep breath and played our systems well, and that resulted in me being in the right place at the right time being able to score.”

Another highlight from the first two games was sophomore goaltender Amanda Zeglen. The backup goalie from last season, Zeglen came into the first series with only seven starts under her belt. Zeglen allowed four goals over the two games, but never put the Buckeyes in a position where they lost control of the game, keeping Quinnipiac from leading the entirety of the weekend.

“It was honestly awesome to play in front of such a defensive team,” Zeglen said. “They made me feel comfortable in the net, and now we can build off of our wins heading into this weekend.”

Muzerall had nothing but positive things to say about Zeglen’s performance.

“Zeglen did very well over the weekend,” Muzerall said. “She controlled her rebounds and helped make some key saves off of mental errors that were made by the defensive side.”

Last year, the Buckeyes were the Cinderella team of women’s hockey when they made their first appearance in the Frozen Four in program history. On the other hand, Colgate is not only coming off a national championship performance, but its second national championship appearance in three years.

“I think we have gained a lot of respect the past year making it to the Frozen Four,” Skaggs said. “Teams are not going to underestimate us anymore, which is what we want. I think Colgate is a great team, so this weekend is going to have two solid games. Both teams are going to come out and hit the ice. We are going to play aggressive because we know we have to play hard to beat them.”

The Buckeyes play on Friday and Saturday against Colgate. Friday’s game is set to start at 6 p.m. and Saturday’s game starts at 3 p.m. at the OSU Ice Rink.