Buckeyes Expect Home Crowd to Provide Big Boost Against No. 2 Minnesota

By Aubrey Nelson on January 25, 2019 at 3:45 pm
The women's hockey Buckeyes look to rebound at home against No. 2 Minnesota.

Twitter/@OhioStateWHKY

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Ohio State women’s hockey has a message for Buckeye Nation ahead of this week’s battle with No. 2 Minnesota: We need you. 

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

“We have a pretty good record here in front of our crowd,” said Nadine Muzerall. “We’re going to need our crowd to rally us up and get us going and try to get a couple wins here.” A raucous home crowd does seem to make a big difference for the Bucks. They are 10-2-0 at the OSU Ice Rink this season.

Team Stats Minnesota Ohio State
Records 22-3-1, 12-3-1-0 WCHA 15-9-0, 9-7-0-0 WCHA
National Polls (PairWise) No. 2 / No. 2 (No. 2) No. 7 / No. 7 (No. 8)
Avg. Goals For / Against 4.27 / 1.65 2.75 / 2.33
Power Play / Penalty Kill 20.6% / 84.8% 14.5% / 86.0%
Points Leader Nicole Schammel (33) Emma Maltais (30)
Leading Goal Scorer Grace Zumwinkle (18) Tatum Skaggs (13)
Top Goaltender Sydney Scobee (1.50/.934) Andrea Braendli (1.96/.933)

The Buckeyes need that home ice boost. They are in dire need of a good result after faltering in Duluth last week. The Bucks were able to put several pucks behind gold medal goalie Maddie Rooney. However, they struggled in their own end without All-American defenseman Jincy Dunne. Ohio State dropped both games of the series to the Bulldogs.

WCHA Standings Points
No.2 Minnesota 37
No. 1 Wisconsin 33
No. 7 Ohio State 27
RV Minn.-Duluth 25
Bemidji State 16
Minnesota State 12
St. Cloud State 9

The sweep dealt a huge blow to the team’s postseason hopes. As things stand, in the (rather unlikely) event that there are no upsets in the conference tourneys, the Bucks would earn the last at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. And even that tenuous spot is far from secured.

Muzerall says her team is aware of its situation but can’t get hung up on its missteps. “We know what’s at stake,” the Buckeye coach stated. “We don’t have to keep reminding them. We don’t want to look in that rearview mirror. We have to move forward.”

Some victories over the Gophers this week would go a long way toward shoring up Ohio State’s position. WCHA-leading No. 2 Minnesota ranks first among all D-I teams in offense and second in defense. A win against the Gophers is hard to come by but exceedingly good for the resume.

And the Buckeyes know how to get the job done. They are one of only two teams to defeat the Gophers this season. Back in October, they earned a series split in Minneapolis. Last year Ohio State swept Minnesota in Columbus.  

The Bucks are prepared to repeat the feat. “We nailed down some things that we have to do better defensively,” noted Muzerall. “Minnesota has a pretty lethal offense. We’ve got to play defense but we have to make sure we’re attacking offensively too and create some turnovers with our speed and our relentlessness. It’s just a mindset now of buckling down and getting after it.”

Scarlet Out Saturday

The Buckeyes will be sporting their sweet scarlet road jerseys at home on Saturday. Rally towels will be passed out to the first 600 fans in attendance. A postgame skate is scheduled. Fans are requested to come to the game appropriately attired and boisterous.

“We really need you guys,” Muzerall urged. “We need people to be loud and I guess this is your one time to be really obnoxious. And bring kids because they’re always loud and crazy. You have to come with your scarlets on.”

“That’s the whole point of being at home is taking advantage of this rink and this environment and the loyal fans that we have,” she continued. “We’ve got to bring everybody out. Bring out your friends. Bring out your family members. We really need you this weekend.”

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