The regular season for Ohio State women’s hockey is winding down quickly, but the Buckeyes have one major obstacle to overcome before the playoffs.
This weekend, the No. 6 Buckeyes (17-8-5, 10-6-4 WCHA) hit the road to face No. 2 Wisconsin (26-3-1, 16-3-1 WCHA), the only team to sweep them at home this year.
But with all three of Wisconsin’s losses coming from conference opponents, Ohio State hopes to continue this trend and upset the Badgers.
“We know that we have the capability of scoring and creating offense,” Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said. “We’re going to take our scouting report on their goaltender and try to expose those weaknesses.”
Both the Buckeyes and Badgers are likely to clinch playoff spots, as they are in the top 10 with just two series remaining in the regular season.
Still, the matchup will give both teams a glimpse into how they fare heading into postseason play.
“We’re trying to take it all in and realize what a special group we have in the locker room,” redshirt senior forward Jincy Dunne said. “We’re just trying to make the most of it the next two weekends.”
In their first match Oct. 5, the Badgers sealed a shutout 3-0 victory. Ohio State was outshot 28-17, with 14 penalty minutes that gave the Badgers the man advantage on multiple occasions.
“What hurt us last time we played Wisconsin was our penalty kill,” Muzerall said. “We have made many adjustments that have done really well, and our power play has had really good movement and offensive opportunity.”
In the series finale, Ohio State junior forward Liz Schepers posted two goals to keep the Buckeyes in the game. Yet all four penalties committed by Ohio State converted to Wisconsin power-play goals, closing the game at 7-3.
Wisconsin junior forward Daryl Watts played an integral part in the series with two goals and five assists. This season, Watts holds an average of 2.20 goals per game, and limiting her is a key to success for the Buckeyes.
On the opposite side of the rink, redshirt senior goaltender Kristen Campbell made 35 saves out of Ohio State’s 38 shot attempts. Campbell currently ranks No. 2 in the nation for goals-against average with 1.79.
In the past week, the Badgers had their five-game winning streak cut short with a loss to unranked Minnesota State, while the Buckeyes were swept by Minnesota Duluth.
Thanks to both losses, Ohio State dropped a spot to No. 6 in the country –– a tie with Clarkson.
“The [team] understands what’s at stake now,” Muzerall said. “We have very tough competition, our schedules are tough and it’s hard to do it back to back, but it’s what makes us great.”
The puck drops at 3:07 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Madison, Wisconsin, where the Badgers are undefeated.