Women's Hockey Begins Final Stretch at No. 2 Minnesota

By Aubrey Nelson on January 30, 2015 at 2:45 pm
Here we go, Buckeyes.
Ohio State University

Hello again, puckheads, and happy game day! Let's break down the weekend in Buckeye hockey. The men's squad has bye this week. The timing worked out well. The team desperately needs some more healthy bodies. While the guys are resting, recuperating, and/or having a Mr. Miyagi laying on of hands (whatever works) the lady Bucks begin their stretch run at No. 2 Minnesota.

Ohio State women's hockey is entering the final month of its 2014-15 season. The team sits fifth in the WCHA with a 9-9-2-1 record. One more victory will bring the lady Bucks even with last season's win totals, both within the conference (10) and overall (15).

Though this has been one of the Buckeyes' more successful seasons, a lack of wins against the conference's middle tier mean the Scarlet and Gray are not likely to earn home ice in the playoffs. They're still firmly in the race mathematically, but they have the most challenging remaining schedule by far. Three of Ohio State’s final four series are against the conference's top teams, starting with this week's games at Minnesota.

OSU vs min
14-10-2 Overall Record 23-1-3
RV National Polls No. 2
2.27 (20th) Avg Goals Scored 4.85 (2nd)
1.85 (10th) Avg Goals Allowed 1.07 (2nd)
14.3 (25th) Power Play % 31.6 (1st)
84.6 (T-18th) Penalty Kill % 88.2 (8th)

Expect a difficult weekend for the Buckeyes. The Golden Gophers aren't a perfect team (not this year anyway) but they're pretty darn close. Five of Minnesota's players are among the nation's top 10 scorers, owning 30+ point totals. Junior Hannah Brandt collected her 200th career point last week. Junior netminder Amanda Leveille ranks third in the country in both goals against (1.15) and save percentage (.946).

The Gophers' only defeat this season came at the hands of Bemidji State back in November when a large chunk of their talent was at the Four Nations tournament. The team routinely scores upwards of five goals a game and rarely gives up more than two. The most goals Minnesota has allowed in a series this season is five.

Ready for some good news? The opponent that scored five in the series against the Gophers? That was Ohio State. The lady Bucks came close on both nights, cutting Minnesota's lead down to 3-2 in each game. They just didn't have enough juice to pull off an upset.

The Scarlet and Gray come into this series off a bye week. Two weeks ago the OSU offense stalled against North Dakota, but the defense kept up their streak (kaerts, kaerts, unjinx) of allowing no more than one goal per game. The run dates back to mid-December and currently stands at eight games. It's unlikely to last the weekend, but it's still worth celebrating.

As good as Minnesota is, if Ohio State's D can keep the score manageable and the offense can get a break or two, the Buckeyes are capable of pulling points from this series. It probably won't be many, but every point helps.

Games are set for 8pm ET tonight and 3pm ET tomorrow. You can watch online with a BTN Plus subscription or listen to free audio via Minnesota's website.

A few more notes...

  • Going into this week OSU’s point leaders are Claudia Kepler (9-10--19), Taylor Kuehl (7-10--17) and Julia McKinnon (9-7--16).
  • The Buckeye goaltenders stack up this way: Stacy Danczak (1.33 GAA, .936 Sv%) and Sauve (2.06 GAA, .920 Sv%).
  • Senior Kayla Sullivan is a nominee for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, given to college hockey’s finest citizen in recognition of his or her contributions both on the ice and in the community.
  • Two Ohio State recruits, Lauren Boyle and Dana Rasmussen, are up for Let’s Play Hockey’s prestigious Ms. Hockey Award. Six of the ten semi-finalists are committed to WCHA schools, two to OSU and one each to Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Conference Outlook
  • The WCHA finished its nonconference schedule with a 35-11-2 record; it was the only D-I conference to have a winning record in non-conference play this season. It's all conference games the rest of the way.
  • The UND vs UMD series this weekend should be a doozy. The teams are on four and five game winning streaks and are jockeying for primo playoff seeding.

rk wcha standings w l t sow pts this week
2 Minnesota 16 1 3 1 52 vs Ohio State
3 Wisconsin 14 4 2 0 44 at Minnesota State
6 Minnesota-Duluth 12 6 2 2 40 vs North Dakota
RV North Dakota 10 8 2 1 33 at Minnesota-Duluth
RV Ohio State 9 9 2 1 30 at Minnesota
RV Bemidji State 9 12 1 1 29 Bye
  St. Cloud State 3 16 1 1 11 Bye
  Minnesota State 0 17 1 0 1 vs Wisconsin
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