The Ohio State women’s hockey team is set and ready to go for a road trip after a bye week of preparation.
No. 6 Ohio State (11-5, 7-3 WCHA) last played Nov. 17 when it swept Minnesota Duluth at home in a top 10 matchup. This week, the Buckeyes face conference opponent Minnesota State (7-5-2, 2-5-1 WCHA), a team that they swept earlier in the season at home.
The last time Ohio State played on the road, it lost twice to then-winless Bemidji State.
After the week off, Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said the team took the bye to make the necessary improvements.
“Although it was a bye week, it wasn’t really,” Muzerall said. “We took that as a training week. It was a bad road weekend the last time against Bemidji, but we can’t keep looking in the rearview mirror. We’ve moved on from that and we bounced back incredibly against Duluth in the following weekend. Now we know what’s at stake.”
Minnesota State has not had a winning season since the 2003-04 season and currently rides a three-game winning streak. Continuing that streak with a statement win against a top 10 team such as Ohio State would certainly attract attention.
Muzerall said the key to beating Minnesota State again is getting to its freshman goaltender Abigail Levy early.
“Last time we played them, we only won by a goal, but we dominated the game,” Muzerall said. “What that told me is that they have a very good goaltender, and she is. So, we just got to rattle her early and get on the board early. If we don’t, then the key is not to panic. You just keep getting shots on net, crashing the net and the end result may not be pretty, but it still shows on the scoreboard.”
Ohio State also has an impressive goaltender of its own in freshman Andrea Braendli. Braendli won WCHA Rookie of the Week for her play against Minnesota Duluth, saving 48 shots over the two games, the second time of the season Braendli received rookie of the week honors.
The first time she won the award was when the Buckeyes played the Mavericks.
Braendli feels very confident that she and her fellow Buckeyes will come out on top in the goaltender matchup.
“Those successes are always an honor to receive. It’s a big confidence booster as we go up to face the Mavericks,” Braendli said. “The last two games we played against them were my first two WCHA games and I know I can do even better in these games. I know Levy is really good, but I think I’m better. I’m not focusing on her. I have to focus on myself, so I can be prepared.”
Braendli said another key for an Ohio State win is to continue playing its aggressive style of play.
“Buckeye hockey is how we succeed. We’re unique in that our hockey is a very interesting play style,” Braendli said. “We plan to be ready from the first shift and we expect them to come out hard and fast. Our Buckeye hockey means that we will pressure back. Our hockey is fast and aggressive and when we play like that, I believe that we are the better team.”
The Buckeyes play two games this weekend on Friday and Saturday against Minnesota State. Friday’s game is set to start at 7 p.m. and Saturday’s game is set for 3 p.m.