Thirty seconds into Friday’s game, Ohio State women’s hockey junior forward Liz Schepers flew past a cavalcade of St. Cloud State defenders and scored to put the Buckeyes in front.
While it scored two more, Schepers’ initial strike would be all No. 5 Ohio State (19-8-6, 12-6-5 WCHA) needed to defeat the Huskies (6-22-4, 2-20-1) in a 3-0 shutout victory Friday in Columbus, Ohio.
“It was nice getting on the board quickly against one of the better goaltenders in the country, representing the U.S.,” Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said. “We knew we had to get after her early.”
St. Cloud State junior goaltender Emma Polusny stopped three of the 32 shots fired her way by the Buckeye offense, but Ohio State sophomore goaltender Andrea Braendli responded with her own 22-for-22 effort in net, securing her eighth shutout of the season.
Following Schepers’ goal, Polusny put up a first-period barricade as Ohio State outshot St. Cloud State 16-8 but couldn’t expand its lead past 1-0.
That changed in the second period. Just more than halfway through the frame, Ohio State redshirt senior defenseman Jincy Dunne cashed in her seventh goal of the season to extend the edge to 2-0.
Just more than five minutes later, Ohio State freshman forward Brooke Bink shot a puck home from the right wing, assisted by freshman forward Teghan Inglis and sophomore defenseman Eve Savander.
“I made a bad play and Teghan passed it to me and I shot bottom left,” Bink said. “Coach has been telling me to do that all year so it was nice to finally score that way.”
St. Cloud State battled to break Braendli’s shutout throughout the contest’s late stages. Freshman forward Klara Hymlarova, the Huskies’ leading scorer, took a pass from senior forward Hallie Theodosopoulos and fired for what appeared to be an easy goal — before Braendli made a stick save.
She only required four saves in the third to secure a shutout, with just seven total shots in the period.
Since January, Ohio State’s power-play conversion rate has improved from .148 to .189 percent.
The Buckeyes failed on all three man-advantages they held Friday.
“I think we were trying to do too much, forcing things that were not there,” Muzerall said. “Today, we became a little unorthodox on our power play because we were a little too casual on the power play.”
Ohio State junior forward Emma Maltais finished with two assists to lead the Buckeyes in points Friday. This week, she was named as a finalist of the Patty Kazmaier Award, given annually to the best women’s college hockey player in the country.
“Emma is a playmaker. She’s always looking to pass before shooting and she’s very instrumental,” Muzerall said. “She can do it all and we’re proud of her accomplishments. The thing that Emma would say if you were to ask her is she would care more about winning a national championship than any of the individual accolades.”
Ohio State concludes its regular season against the Huskies Saturday at 3:07 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio.