The Ohio State women’s hockey team will attempt to recover from a tough road trip as it returns home to a top-10 series against Minnesota Duluth.
No. 7 Ohio State (9-5, 5-3 WCHA) was swept by Bemidji State, a team that was 0-9-1 before facing the Buckeyes. Ohio State gets no chance to rest as its next matchup comes in the form of a familiar conference matchup in No. 7 Minnesota Duluth (5-4-1, 3-4-1 WCHA), a team that will also look to turn over a new leaf in these games.
Ohio State and Minnesota Duluth both earned 53 points in the USCHO Women’s Hockey Poll, making them tied at No. 7 in the rankings.
The Bulldogs have also lost two in a row but are not to be taken lightly. They have several weapons in their arsenal, most notably in a 2018 Olympic gold medalist in redshirt junior goaltender Maddie Rooney.
Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said there are many reasons why her team needs to step up its competition against Minnesota Duluth.
“We have to compete because we didn’t lose to Bemidji State because of skill,” Muzerall said. “We lost because we didn’t compete. We didn’t play 60 minutes of hockey and didn’t buckle down on areas of concern and that hurt us. We need to compete this week because Minnesota Duluth is going to be very skilled. They have the Olympic gold medalist goalie and we’re going to have to play disciplined hockey to beat that.”
One advantage Ohio State has is in its shot total. In 11 of the 14 games the Buckeyes have played, they have outshot their opponents. Despite losing its past two games, Ohio State has still recorded more shots on goal than its opponent in four of five losses.
“We need to make sure we finish what we start,” Muzerall said. “We need to make our shots count because we are not going to get a lot of goals against Minnesota Duluth.”
On the defensive side, Ohio State has a weapon that it will try and use against the Bulldogs in redshirt junior defenseman Jincy Dunne. Despite the Buckeyes losing to Bemidji State, Dunne’s efforts earned her WCHA Defenseman of the Week, tallying two assists, five blocked shots and eight shots on goal in two games.
“It’s very humbling when people take the time to recognize you for your individual efforts,” Dunne said. “At the end of the day, this is a team game first and foremost and I would give that award up gladly if it meant my team could come back from a sweep.”
In addition to all the weapons and advantages Ohio State has at its disposal, the Buckeyes have been working hard in practice to find that extra edge that will be the key to two wins this weekend.
Ohio State senior forward Charly Dahlquist said the practices the team has had have been of high intensity, comparing more to an actual game. She said this is trying to spark something in this team to get back to its winning ways.
To Dahlquist, this is something Ohio State has the tools to do.
“We are a hard-working team,” Dahlquist said. “We may not have all those big-name gold medalists, but we have a lot of grit. If we play with that grit and dig into the corners to get the puck away, we’re definitely going to have a successful weekend.”
Ohio State will face Minnesota Duluth at OSU Ice Rink at 6 p.m. on Friday and at 1 p.m. on Saturday.