Good afternoon, hockey fans. The men’s team is off this week, perhaps reveling in its latest accolades, definitely preparing for next week’s showdown with Michigan. Ohio State’s women are in action, though. They host No. 5/6 Minnesota in a WCHA battle.
No. 7 Buckeye Women vs. No. 5/6 Minnesota
|Opening Faceoff||6pm ET||3pm ET|
|Online Video||Buckeye Vision ($)||Buckeye Vision ($)|
Not much separates the Bucks and Gophers this season. Certainly not as much as in years past. Minnesota holds a one point edge in the WCHA standings. Ohio State leads the teams’ season series 1-0-1-1.
|Team Stats||Minnesota||Ohio State|
|Record||17-6-2, 10-4-2-0 WCHA||15-5-4, 8-2-4-3 WCHA|
|Avg. Goals For / Against||3.40 / 2.08||3.17 / 2.25|
|Power Play / Penalty Kill||24.4% / 89.9%||18.5% / 85.4%|
|Points Leader||Grace Zumwinkle (27)||Emma Maltais (30)|
|Top Goaltender||Sidney Peters (2.07/.909)||Kassidy Sauve (2.15/.929)|
The Buckeyes stunned Goldy when the teams met in Minneapolis last October, claiming five of six series points. The teams tied, 5-5, in the series opener. Ohio State took the extra shootout point. The Bucks rallied for a 3-2 win in the finale. Six different Buckeyes scored goals in the series. They accounted for eight tallies all together against freshman netminder Alex Gulstene.
|No. 1 Wisconsin||14||0||0||0||42||14|
|No. 5/6 Minnesota||10||4||2||0||32||16|
|No. 7 Ohio State||8||2||4||3||31||14|
|St. Cloud State||3||11||2||0||11||16|
In retrospect the hotly contested battles are hardly surprising. Ohio State and Minnesota are closely matched teams on paper. Their average goals scored/allowed per game differ by mere fractions.
Each team is stocked with productive scorers and led by some phenomenal freshman. Ohio State boasts the WCHA's top overall scorer, rookie Emma Maltais, as well as sensational classmate Tatum Skaggs. Minnesota ices the conference's leading league scorer, freshman Grace Zumwinkle.
Skilled as they are, both teams have been held back by inconsistency. The Buckeyes bookended the holiday break with two forgettable games. The first was a third period letdown at Mercyhurst. It was followed by a sluggish start to 2018 and a four-goal loss to Penn State.
Since Thanksgiving the Gophers have blown a third period lead against Lindenwood. They also surrendered three unanswered goals in a loss to Bemidji State. And last week they dropped a 4-2 decision to Vermont despite outshooting the Catamounts 26-11.
But each side comes into this week’s series on a high note. Last time out the Bucks swept No. 9 Robert Morris thanks to the offense’s 10 total goals and Kassidy Sauve’s award worthy 78 saves. It was Ohio State’s first outright sweep since mid-November.
Minnesota split last week’s series at home against Vermont. The Gophers fell on Friday (the aforementioned 4-2 loss). Saturday was a different story with the team cruising to a 6-1 win. Five goals matched the largest margin of victory for Minnesota this season. The six spot also matched the Gophers’ mark for most goals scored in a game this year.
For the better part of 18 seasons, this giant was asleep. Now it's awake & the most surprising story of women's college hockey.
— Ohio State Buckeyes (@OhioStAthletics) January 18, 2018
Now each team looks to keep its momentum going in this week’s showdown at the OSU Ice Rink. Minnesota has better special teams. I think that might make it difficult for Ohio State to pull off another sweep. But the Scarlet and Gray are on a roll. I don't think the Bucks are about to get run out of their own building either. I'm guessing the series ends in a split.
Games are scheduled for tonight at 6pm ET and Saturday at 3pm ET. If you’re heading out to spectate be sure to note the traffic and parking alert for the series. Don’t forget to bring your blades for Saturday’s postgame skate. (Or just grab some rentals.)
- Future Buckeye Madison Bizal is a gold medalist. The defender posted two assists and a +3 rating in five games with Team USA at the World Under-18 Championship.
- Speaking of future Bucks, here's a neat read by Patrick Slack about the bond between OSU commits Gabby Rosenthal and Ramsey Parent.
- If nothing will satisfy you but Big Ten hockey you can see every non-Buckeye team in action this week on your TV. BTN airs tonight's Penn State-Michigan game at 8pm and Saturday's Minnesota-Michigan State tilt at 8pm (the second half of the B1G's hoops and hockey doubleheader). Then on Sunday NBC Sports covers the Notre Dame-Wisconsin game at 3pm ET.