Defense the Key in Hockey Showdowns with Michigan, Wisconsin

By Aubrey Nelson on January 11, 2019 at 3:45 pm
Buckeye forward Dakota Joshua speeds after the puck while the Michigan Wolverines look on.

Twitter/@OhioStateMHKY

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School pride, critical conference points, there’s a lot on the line this week as both the men’s and women’s hockey Bucks defend home ice. Here’s what you need to know before the puck drops. 

No. 3/4 Men vs. Michigan Wolverines 

Game Info Friday Saturday
Opening Faceoff 7pm ET 7pm ET
Television None BTN
Local Radio 1460 AM 1460 AM
Online Stream BTN Plus ($) BTN2Go ($)

The Buckeyes come into this series fresh off a four-point weekend at Michigan State. A defensive letdown by OSU late in the first game opened the door for the Spartans to rally. MSU overcame a three-goal deficit to tie the game. The Spartans then won a bonus point in the 3-on-3 overtime. As you might expect, surrendering five goals in the third period of a game which they had otherwise controlled did not sit well with the Bucks.

Team Stats Michigan Ohio State
Records 7-8-6, 3-4-4-2 B1G 12-4-4-, 5-2-3-2 B1G
National Polls N/A No. 3 / No. 4
Avg. Goals For / Against 3.00 / 3.14 3.10 / 2.20
Power Play / Penalty Kill 18.2% / 78.9% 20.9% / 79.2%
Points Leader Quinn Hughes (20) Mason Jobst (23)
Leading Goal Scorer Norris, N. Pastujov (10) Mason Jobst (13)
Top Goaltender Hayden Lavigne (2.93/.889) Tommy Nappier (1.54/.947)

“Every point in this league matters,” said Mason Jobst, “To give up two like that was just unacceptable. We thought we were the better team. But the league’s so deep that if you take anyone lightly for four minutes they’re going to make you pay.” 

Big Ten Standings W L T SOW PTS Last Week This Week
No. 3/4 Ohio State 5 2 3 2 20 SOL, W at MSU vs MCH
RV Wisconsin 4 3 3 1 16 Swept by No. 8 Denver vs US U-18 (ex)
RV Michigan 3 4 4 2 15 W at ND, L vs Merrimack (nc) at OSU
Minnesota 4 3 3 0 15 L, W vs PSU at ND
No. 9 Notre Dame 5 4 0 0 15 L vs MCH vs MIN
No. 10/11 Penn State 4 5 1 1 14 W, L at MIN vs MSU
Michigan State 2 6 2 2 10 SOW, L vs OSU at PSU

A postgame players-only meeting helped the team reset. The Bucks skated to a commanding 6-0 victory in the series finale. Much has been made of the players’ meeting but it wasn’t a big deal for Jobst. “It wasn’t like we’re on a five-game skid or anything like that,” said the senior captain. “It was just, let’s nip it in the bud right now before things get out of hand.” 

Ohio State’s defense will be on the hot seat once again this week when the team hosts Michigan. The Wolverines have only one outright win in their last 11 games (1-3-6), but records don’t count for much in this series. “They’re not having a Michigan-type year,” noted Jobst. “But when it comes to Ohio State-Michigan it doesn’t really matter. They’re going to bring their A game, no matter what.” 

The Wolverines have the skill set to bring an impressive A game. Their roster boasts nine NHL picks including first-rounders Quinn Hughes and Josh Norris. Both Hughes and Norris recently returned to Michigan from stellar performances with Team USA’s silver medal WJC squad. 

Steve Rohlik isn’t planning on seeing anything less than fully operational Wolverines this week. “We’ve really got to be focused. We’re looking at Michigan showing up and being the best Michigan team. We’ve got to be the best team we can be.” 

  • Michigan native Dakota Joshua owns seven goals and seven assists in 13 career games vs. the Wolverines.
  • Junior Tanner Laczynski needs three points to hit the century mark for his career.

No. 7 Women vs No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers

Game Info Friday Saturday
Opening Faceoff 6pm ET 3pm ET
Online Stream BTN Plus ($) BTN Plus ($)

The Buckeye women get back to their regular season schedule this week following an exhibition series against the Minnesota Whitecaps. Although Ohio State dropped both games, competing against the pros was a valuable experience. 

Team Stats Wisconsin Ohio State
Records 19-1-0, 9-1-0-0 WCHA 14-6-0, 8-4-0-0 WCHA
National Polls No. 1 / No. 1 No. 7 / No. 7
Avg. Goals For / Against 4.05 / 1.15 2.90 / 2.00
Power Play / Penalty Kill 29.5% / 86.3% 12.8% / 90.0%
Points Leader Abby Roque (25) Emma Maltais (28)
Leading Goal Scorer Annie Pankowski (14) Tatum Skaggs (12)
Top Goaltender Kristen Campbell (1.10/.932) Andrea Braendli (1.70/.939)

“We hung with them without three key players, played with four D,” said Nadine Muzerall. “Those players that don’t play a lot of normal minutes in a game, they got some time on ice. They’re starting to build their confidence and can take that into this [next] series.” 

WCHA Standings W L T SOW PTS Last Week This Week
No. 2 Minnesota 9 2 1 0 28 W vs UMD, W vs STC (nc) at MSU
No. 1 Wisconsin 9 1 0 0 27 Bye at OSU
No. 7 Ohio State 8 4 0 0 24 Swept by Whitecaps (ex) vs WIS
RV Minn.-Duluth 4 6 2 2 16 L vs MIN, W vs MSU (nc) at BSU
Bemidji State 4 7 1 0 13 Swept Union (nc) vs UMD
Minnesota State 3 7 2 1 12 T vs STC, L vs UMD (nc) vs MIN
St. Cloud State 2 12 0 0 6 T vs MSU, L vs MIN (nc) Bye

Any boost the Bucks can get will be helpful this week as they take on the top-ranked Badgers. Wisconsin outshot opponents by an average 40-16 margin per game in the first half of the season and outscored its opponents by a collective 81-23. The Badger power play has scored six power play goals in its last seven opportunities. 

“You know you’re not going to score a lot of goals on a team like Wisconsin,” said Muzerall. “You have to know that you can’t give up a lot. You have to go zero to one, maybe two, knowing that you’re not going to get more than that. We have to buckle down defensively and take the opportunities that we get offensively.” 

Redshirt senior Jincy Dunne said the strategy is simple for the Buckeye defenders. “As a defensive corps, we’ve just got to be a nightmare. Be tough to play against and be all over them,” the blue line leader said. “[And] don’t get intimidated by the fact that they’re Wisconsin because we’re Ohio State.” 

Although the Badgers present a challenge, it’s a challenge the Buckeyes have overcome before. Wisconsin only lost three regular season games last year. Two of those three losses came at the hands of the Bucks. 

When the teams met in Columbus last February the Scarlet and Gray took both contests. Those were the only regular season WCHA losses Wisconsin suffered last season. It was also the only time the Badgers were swept all year. Wisconsin’s roster benefits from the return of its Olympians in 2018-19. Yet Muzerall thinks her team has something for the Badgers. 

“I think our forecheck is something that they haven’t seen yet,” speculated Muzerall. “We’re pretty relentless and fast. We like to move north quickly. I think we’re going to create some turnovers and then we’re going to funnel pucks to the net. Knowing that they have excellent D and great goaltending, we just have to get the pucks on net.

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