Defense will be front and center for the hockey Bucks this week. Both the men’s and women’s teams square off against some of the nation’s most prolific offenses. Here is the lowdown on the action.
No. 6/7 Buckeye Men at No. 13 Penn State
|Opening Faceoff||7:30 p.m. ET||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Radio||1460 AM||1460 AM|
|Online VIdeo||BTN Plus ($)||BTN2Go ($)|
Unstoppable force, meet immovable object. Immovable object, unstoppable force. This week features Ohio State’s No. 4 defense taking on Penn State’s No. 2 offense in a huge Big Ten match up.
The Bucks and Nittany Lions are both on a roll. PSU is undefeated in its last ten games including last week’s win and shootout victory against current No. 18 Wisconsin. After sweeping Michigan State, OSU owns six straight wins. The last Buckeye loss came on December 2... against Penn State.
|Team Stats||Ohio State||Penn State|
|Records||14-4-4, 7-4-1-0 B1G||12-7-3, 5-4-2-2 B1G|
|Avg. Goals For / Against||2.95 / 2.05||4.09 / 3.00|
|Power Play / Penalty Kill||18% / 91.9%||21.6% / 86.3%|
|Points Leader||Tanner Laczynski (29)||Andrew Sturtz (28)|
|Top Goaltender||Sean Romeo (1.94/.927)||Peyton Jones (2.95/.898)|
Ohio State nearly had the opening game of that series in the bag. Then Andrew Sturtz’s buzzer beater powered the Nittany Lions to a shootout win over the Bucks. The Scarlet and Gray followed that game with a lackluster 4-0 loss. Penn State scored nine total goals in the series. It was the most allowed by the Bucks’ defense in any series this season.
|Big Ten Standings||W||L||T||SOW||Pts||PWR|
|No. 1 Notre Dame||12||0||0||0||36||No. 2|
|No. 6/7 Ohio State||7||4||1||0||22||No. 5|
|No. 13 Penn State||5||4||3||2||20||No. 12|
|No. 18 Wisconsin||4||6||2||2||14||No. 18|
|No. 9 Minnesota||4||7||1||1||14||No. 9|
|Michigan State||2||9||1||1||8||No. 34|
The Buckeyes look to even up the season slate this week. A winning series could also make an impact in the Big Ten standings. Though Notre Dame still leads the league by a mile, the Bucks and Nittany Lions are locked in a heated battle for the runner up spot. Only two points separate the teams.
A couple of Buckeye wins would create some separation in the conference standings. Victories over a quality team like Penn State would also help solidify Ohio State’s chances of returning to the NCAA tournament. (Chances which are promising yet far from secure.) But I can’t shake the feeling that the Bucks are headed for a split.
No. 8 Buckeye Women vs No. 9 Robert Morris
|Opening Faceoff||6pm ET||3pm ET|
|Online Video||Buckeye Vision ($)||Buckeye Vision ($)|
Last week Ohio State got off to a slow start in 2018 with a 5-1 loss to Penn State. The Bucks bounced back, though, and shut out the Nittany Lions 2-0 in the teams’ series finale. OSU faces more non-conference competition this week when No. 9 Robert Morris visits Columbus.
|Team Stats||Robert Morris||Ohio State|
|Records||12-4-3, 6-2-2 CHA||13-5-4, 8-2-4-3 WCHA|
|Avg. Goals For / Against||3.68 / 2.16||3.00 / 2.36|
|Power Play / Penalty Kill||17.5% / 82.3%||16.9% / 83.8%|
|Points Leader||Brittany Howard (30)||Emma Maltais (25)|
|Top Goaltender||Elijah Milne-Price (1.71/.927)||Kassidy Sauve (2.27/.922)|
The Buckeyes and Colonials met in Pittsburgh back in November. They split the series. Ohio State won big in the opener. Tatum Skaggs recorded her first collegiate hat trick. The Bucks netted four power play goals in a 7-3 victory.
The Scarlet and Gray led in the rematch as well but a third period tally by RMU's leading scorer, Brittany Howard, evened things up. Howard struck again in the extra session when penalty trouble put the Buckeyes down two skaters for an extended length of time. Bobby Mo skated away with a 3-2 overtime victory.
|No. 1 Wisconsin||12||0||0||0||36||No. 1|
|No. 5 Minnesota||10||4||2||0||32||No. 5|
|No. 8 Ohio State||8||2||4||3||31||No. 7|
|Bemidji State||6||7||1||1||20||No. 15|
|St. Cloud State||3||11||2||0||11||No. 27|
|Minnesota State||1||13||0||0||3||No. 33|
Special teams were key in the last match up between Ohio State and Robert Morris. I expect that to be the case again. Another series split wouldn’t surprise me but it would be nice for the Buckeyes to find a way to win the pair. It would boost their PairWise numbers a bit and might give the team some extra swagger heading back into conference play next week.
OSU’s offense gets a boost this week with the return of leading scorer Emma Maltais. The fabulous freshman was away last week, competing with Team Canada at the Nations Cup. Maltais and that team way up north skated to a fifth place finish.