Good afternoon, puck heads. Your Buckeye ladies are in North Dakota this week trying to upset UND and advance in the WCHA playoffs. Here is all the info you need on that series as well as a preview of the men’s match up against Penn State.
The Buckeye men enter this weekend’s series fresh off a pair of splits. While that wasn’t a particularly impressive result against Wisconsin, earning a win over No. 17 Michigan was definitely noteworthy. It was good to see the level at which a healthy Ohio State team is capable of operating. It will be better to see that kind of effort on a consistent basis over the final month of the season. OSU has three weeks to get its game together before the conference tournament.
This week the Bucks welcome Penn State to the Schott. The teams split their previous series back in January. Ohio State built a sizable lead in the opener, but a furious comeback by led by breakout star Casey Bailey pushed the game to overtime. Anthony Greco netted the game winner to preserve a Buckeye victory. Saturday’s contest was close through thirty minutes then PSU pulled away with three unanswered goals.
|Receiving Votes||National Polls||N/A|
|3.33 (9th)||Avg Goals Scored||2.64 (37th)|
|2.73 (36th)||Avg Goals Allowed||3.54 (54th)|
|22.3 (7th)||Power Play %||13.3 (50th)|
|81.1 (37th)||Penalty Kill %||73.0 (59th)|
That OT loss to OSU was the only black mark on PSU’s record in January. The Nittany Lions were 4-1-2 in the month including a win over then No. 15 Vermont. They made a brief appearance at No. 19 in the USCHO poll before falling back to mediocrity (aka the song of the 2014-15 Big Ten). Penn State split against current No. 15 Minnesota last week, snapping a three game losing skid.
Bailey (20-15--35) leads the PSU offense. He’s among the national leaders in points and goals scored. It’s no surprise that he’s getting a lot of attention from NHL scouts. Taylor Holstrom and Eric Scheid also average better than a point per game.
The Buckeyes will likely see PJ Musico in net. The senior has started six of the last seven games for the Nittany Lions. Over that stretch he owns a GAA a shade over 2.00 and a save percentage of roughly .937.
Penn State is a hard-working veteran team. The Nittany Lions put a lot of rubber on net and will shoot from anywhere. Ohio State will need to match their work ethic. The Bucks will also need good rebound control from their goaltender (Christian Frey, I should think). Winning the net presence battle at both ends of the ice would go a long way toward an OSU win as well.
Tonight’s game is scheduled for 6:30 pm. It’s the undercard of the BTN doubleheader. Saturday’s tilt begins at 7pm. ASN will broadcast that one locally on the CW. You can also follow along via BTN2Go, 1460 AM, and Twitter.
One last note...
- Fans planning to attend the game will want to read up on this week’s promotions which include a team meet-and-greet and the always popular Teddy Toss.
Three weeks to go and the regular season title is still anyone’s to win. Well, almost anyone’s. If I were a betting person I’d put my money on Minnesota. The Gophers remaining schedule features home games against MSU and PSU and one road series here at the Schott. Michigan has Wisconsin at home this week but still has to go on the road to Penn State and faces a home-and-home finale against Michigan State.
|rk||big ten standings||w||l||t||sow||pts||this week|
|14/15||Minnesota||8||3||3||0||27||vs Michigan State|
|RV||Penn State||8||5||1||0||25||at Ohio State|
|Michigan State||7||5||2||2||25||at Minnesota|
|Ohio State||4||10||0||0||12||vs Penn State|
Ohio State completed its regular season last week with a pair of losses at No. 9 Minnesota-Duluth. The Buckeyes finished the conference schedule with a 12-13-3-1 record. They’re the sixth seed as the WCHA playoffs get underway this weekend.
Despite the fizzling ending, this was a decent year for the lady Bucks. They competed well against top teams, earning points against both No. 2 Minnesota and No. 3 Wisconsin. They even cracked the top ten rankings for a brief time.
The sixth place finish is somewhat disappointing considering how well the ladies played at times. However, the WCHA has a lot of good teams this year. Overall the Buckeyes performed well for a team that entered 2014-15 with no clear stars and completely untested goaltending.
|Receiving Votes||National Polls||No. 8|
|2.32 (20th)||Avg Goals Scored||2.62 (15th)|
|2.03 (12th)||Avg Goals Allowed||1.53 (T-5th)|
|14.4 (25th)||Power Play %||20.4 (11th)|
|82.7 (21st)||Penalty Kill %||90.9 (3rd)|
With the sixth seed, Ohio State now faces third-seeded North Dakota in the opening round of the WCHA playoffs. The Buckeyes were winless in four meetings with UND this season. Claudia Kepler fueled an OSU comeback and shootout victory in the teams’ first game. UND took the final three decisions, though the Bucks fell short by only a single goal in each contest.
North Dakota has several dangerous scorers but the player who can do the most damage to Ohio State this week is senior goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie. The NoDak netminder boasts an impressive 1.15 GAA and .955 save percentage on the season. She has also racked up eight shutouts in her last dozen starts, including a current streak of four consecutive goalless games. Amsley-Benzie hasn’t coughed up a goal since February 7th.
It will be interesting to see which of OSU’s goalies get the call this weekend. Head coach Nate Handrahan continued to split the starts equally between Stacy Danczak and Kassidy Sauve right through the season finale at UMD. (Both tenders give Ohio State a chance to win so the lack of a clear No. 1 is only mildly concerning.) Thanks to a weird combination of injuries and scheduling Danczak is the only Buckeye goalie NoDak has seen this year.
|first round||of||wcha Tourney|
|Minnesota State||vs||No. 2 Minnesota|
|St. Cloud State||vs||No. 3 Wisconsin|
|Ohio State||vs||No. 8 North Dakota|
|Bemidji State||vs||No. 9 Minnesota-Duluth|
Scoring is going to be difficult, but the Buckeyes have plenty of players capable of putting the puck in the net. In order to advance they’ll need to press Amsley-Benzie early and often. Special teams haven't been OSU's strong suit this season but making the most of their power play chances in this series will be crucial for the Bucks.
The series is a best-of-three. Games will take place at UND on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (if necessary). All games are scheduled for 3pm ET starts. Live audio and video is available from North Dakota. And, like always, we’ll recap the action for you here at Eleven Warriors.