The No. 5 Ohio State women’s hockey team opens Western Collegiate Hockey Association conference play this weekend against Minnesota State.
The Buckeyes are coming off a challenging early series matchup against No. 8 Colgate. Ohio State split the series, winning the first game by a score of 4-3, then earning its first loss of the season, as Colgate overcame a 2-0 deficit after the first period to come back and win 5-2.
“I think for us it was a huge deal to play Colgate,” senior forward Charly Dahlquist said. “ Playing a team that is so skilled so early in the season and seeing our success against that team gave a little bright side showing that we can compete with a team that was at the Frozen Four last year.”
Minnesota State looks to be a easier opponent than Colgate, with the Mavericks coming off a 5-28-1 record with a 3-21-0 record in WCHA play last season. Minnesota State has not had a winning season since the 2003-2004 season, the only winning season for the Mavericks since their team began playing back in 1998.
However, so far in this current season, the Mavericks are 2-0, having won a weekend series against RPI, and Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said the team cannot overlook anyone.
“Every year there is a little flair, that’s a little different,” Muzerall said. “There’s new players or coaches might tweak things with the personnel they have. And with head coach John Harrington being who John Harrington is, a 1980 Miracle on Ice player and his wisdom, you never know what he could have up his sleeve.”
The Buckeyes will have an advantage of being able to look at several players to contribute on the ice instead of just their star players. In just four games played, 15 players have scored a point, with seven of those 15 scoring multiple points.
“When you have secondary scoring, that’s very reassuring for the depth that you have,” Muzerall said. “You’re not always relying on the same players. You feel comfortable about bringing out your second, third or even fourth line. Knowing that they can execute what you ask of them shows that we’ve come a long way and don’t rely on just three people anymore.”
The Buckeyes have been lethal on the penalty kill, keeping the opposing team from converting on a power play 17-18 times in the four games played so far..
The 94.4 percent success rate on the penalty kill is tied for No. 10 in the NCAA, trailing only teams with 100 percent success rates.
“I think a big thing for us with the penalty kill is we are relentless,” Dahlquist said. “We don’t let down, we realize we are down a player and we need to get the puck out. I think we’re just a gritty team that isn’t willing to let down and that’s why we are so successful.”
The Buckeyes play on Friday and Saturday against Minnesota State at the OSU Ice Rink. Friday’s game is set to start at 6 p.m. and Saturday’s game starts at 1 p.m.