In this week’s puck previews the Buckeye women close out their regular season in Wisconsin. The men are also on the road, squaring off with Michigan at Yost Ice Arena. Conference implications abound.
No. 5/6 Buckeye Men at Michigan
|Opening Faceoff||6:30 p.m. ET||6pm ET|
|Local Radio||1460 AM||1460 AM|
|Online Stream||Fox Sports Go ($)||BTN2Go ($)|
Ohio State had a chance to clinch the regular season Big Ten title last week, their first conference championship since 1971-72. Instead they suffered a sweep at the hands of the visiting Gophers. It was the first time they’ve been swept this season.
“I think our guys were just as disappointed as anyone else with the results,” said Steve Rohlik. “We play in a great league and play against really good hockey teams. We’ve got to be at our best on Friday. I think our guys responded with a good week of practice.”
|Team Stats||Ohio State||Michigan|
|Records||19-7-4, 12-5-3-2 B1G||12-12-6, 8-8-4-2 B1G|
|National Polls (PWR)||No. 5 / No. 6 (No. 7)||N/A (Tied No. 24)|
|Avg. Goals For / Against||3.17 / 2.17||3.10 / 3.10|
|Power Play / Penalty Kill||22.4% / 82.1%||15.9% / 78.4%|
|Points Leader||Mason Jobst (35)||Quinn Hughes (29)|
|Leading Goal Scorer||Mason Jobst (16)||Will Lockwood (14)|
|Top Goaltender||Tommy Nappier (1.76/.939)||Strauss Mann (2.80/.897)|
The Bucks have another opportunity to seize the conference crown this week on their final road trip of the regular season. And, oh hey, look. They’re in Michigan. Next to the Schott, I’m guessing Yost would be a Buckeye fan’s favorite place to see OSU celebrate a championship.
It won’t be easy. The Wolverines are pretty good at home (6-4-4). They’ve only played at Yost three times since the midseason break. Maybe that’s part of the reason they’re only 6-5-2 in the second half. Of course, part of it is that co-leading goal scorer Josh Norris suffered a season-ending injury at the World Juniors. And it doesn’t help that Michigan’s power play is 1-for-its-last-26.
|Big Ten Standings||Pts||Remaining Series|
|No. 5/6 Ohio State||41||at MCH, vs MSU|
|Minnesota||33||vs ND, vs ASU (nc)|
|No. 16 Notre Dame||31||at MIN, vs PSU|
|Michigan||30||vs OSU, at WIS|
|No. 19 Penn State||29||vs WIS, at ND|
|Michigan State||27||Bye, at OSU|
|Wisconsin||25||at PSU, vs MCH|
But don’t let that mediocre record fool you. The Wolverines are dangerous. “They’ve got great team speed, noted Rohlik. “I thought they played more structured [in our last meeting] than they have in the past. They played very well defensively. They didn’t give you much on the rush against.”
The Wolverines have defeated every Big Ten team save Wisconsin at least once in the second half of the season. If they can manage to sweep Ohio State this week, they’ll not only prevent the Buckeyes from claiming the Big Ten title, they’ll remain in contention for the crown themselves.
Michigan trails OSU by 11 points with four B1G games remaining for each team. Notre Dame is 10 points back of the Buckeyes. With each conference win counting for three points, both the Wolverines and Irish have the potential to earn another 12. Ohio State only needs one win in its next four games to take the title.
No. 10 Buckeye Women at No. 1 Wisconsin
|Opening Faceoff||8pm ET||4pm ET|
|Online Stream||BTN Plus & FloHockey ($)||BTN Plus & FloHockey ($)|
After some late season setbacks, Ohio State looks to close out the regular season with a bang at Wisconsin. The Buckeyes split a series with the top-ranked Badgers in Columbus earlier this year. Andrea Braendli and the OSU defense shut Wisconsin out in the series opener. In the finale the Bucks trailed by a single goal going into the third period but the Badgers prevailed, 5-2.
|Team Stats||Ohio State||Wisconsin|
|Records||18-12-0, 12-10-0-0 WCHA||28-4-0, 18-4-0-0 WHCA|
|National Polls (PWR)||No. 10 / No. 10 (No. 10)||No. 1 / No. 1 (No. 1)|
|Avg. Goals For / Against||2.83 / 2.47||3.81 / 1.16|
|Power Play / Penalty Kill||16.7% / 83.7%||24.0% / 86.9%|
|Points Leader||Emma Maltais (38)||Annie Pankowski (37)|
|Leading Goal Scorer||Tatum Skaggs (14)||Sophie Shirley (18)|
|Top Goaltender||Andrea Braendli (1.96/.934)||Kristen Campbell (1.13/.932)|
A good performance in that series gives the Buckeyes confidence that they can repeat or better those results this week. “We’re focusing on a lot of the things that we did well against them last time and the things we need to tighten up on,” said Nadine Muzerall.
“We’re going to make a couple little tweaks and hope we catch them off guard. But we’ve got to believe in ourselves and what we know we’re capable of. We knocked them off once before and we’re looking to do that two more times.”
|WCHA Standings||Pts||Remaining Series|
|No. 1 Wisconsin||54||vs. Ohio State|
|No. 2 Minnesota||52||at Bemidji State|
|No. 10 Ohio State||36||at Wisconsin|
|Bemidji State||32||vs Minnesota|
|Minnesota-Duluth||31||at Minnesota State|
|St. Cloud State||15||Bye|
|Minnesota State||14||vs Minnesota-Duluth|
It’s going to be a tall order for OSU playing in Madison with Wisconsin celebrating its seniors and trying to lock up the regular season WCHA title. The Badgers are also on a roll. They’re 7-1-0 in their last eight games. They outscored their opponents 33-7 over that stretch.
Wisconsin isn’t the only team looking to solidify its conference standing this week. The Buckeyes can clinch third place. They have a four point lead on fourth place Bemidji State and five on fifth place Minnesota-Duluth.
To give you some idea of what difference the seeding could make, third place equals a first round best-of-three WCHA tourney series in Columbus against either St. Cloud or Minnesota State. OSU is 11-5-0 at home and owns a collective 7-1-0 record against the Huskies and Mavericks.
Fourth place means the Buckeyes face either BSU or UMD. Ohio State is only 3-5-0 against those teams this season. It’s unlikely that the Bucks would fall all the way to fifth. Bemidji would have to take five points off Minnesota this week. But it is technically a possibility which would turn that tough BSU/UMD match up into a road series.