After only scoring four goals in its last four games, the Ohio State women’s hockey team found its offensive touch over the weekend, beating the Minnesota State Mavericks by scores of 5-3 and 4-0.
Playing their annual series inside the Schottenstein Center, the Buckeyes snapped a four-game losing streak and put up season-high shot totals of 35 and 40, outshooting the Mavericks by a combined 75-29.
Junior forward Claudia Kepler led the Buckeyes with two goals and four points through the series. She attributed the turnaround in scoring to crashing the net.
“It was nice to get a couple goals in, of course, because we haven’t been scoring a lot,” Kepler said. “We just go out there with the mentality of just getting pucks to the net, and keep pucks out of our zone.”
Sophomore forward Lauren Spring, who had two goals and an assist in Saturday’s contest, said the key to keeping the offense rolling is taking it slow.
“I think just taking it one step at a time, starting in our D-zone, and working toward our neutral zone, and finally in our offensive zone,” Spring said. “We’re building confidence each game and just having some fun out there and we were enjoying it.”
On Friday night, the Buckeyes tied their season high with five goals and posted a season-best 12 shots against.
Despite controlling the majority of play, OSU found itself down early in the game after allowing goals on two of the first three shots the Mavericks took. The Buckeyes worked their way back into the game for a 5-3 victory with goals from Kepler, freshman forward Maddy Field, senior defenseman Cara Zubko and senior forward Kendall Curtis.
OSU coach Jenny Potter attributed the team’s resiliency to lessons learned in practice.
“In the workouts I think I’ve been skating them pretty hard and grinding them pretty hard, so they’re used to battling,” Potter said. “I think they kept it cool and they kept battling, and I think they kept their focus.”
Saturday saw the Buckeyes jump out to a quick start, scoring all four goals over a five-minute span in the first period. The rest of the game featured a dominant defensive performance led by redshirt freshman goaltender Alex LaMere making 17 saves in the Buckeyes’ first shutout of the season.
LaMere said she credits her shutout to the work of her teammates.
“Honestly this game was just really fun to play in, everyone played really well I thought,” LaMere said. “It was definitely a huge team shutout. My teammates made it very easy for me in the defensive zone.”
Potter said the wins were a good start to get the Buckeyes — now 4-4 on the season — back on track.
“It’s a great feeling, especially for the kids and the work they’ve been putting in,” Potter said. “It’s awesome to see, and for them to start believing in the process and the success that will come, it’s a great start.”
LaMere said this weekend will help the team push forward.
“We have a huge week coming up. We have a bye week this weekend, so a lot of work on systems, and a lot of work on scoring,” LaMere said. “We just have to keep on chucking, and keep this momentum and keep going with it.”
With the bye week, Potter said she feels the Buckeyes have time to improve on some key aspects of the game.
“Even though we won two games, I’m going to challenge them to get better at certain areas of their game,” Potter said. “Puck protection, being more aggressive, being hungrier to score more goals. We scored four goals in the first period, and then we tied the second two with no goals, so that’s something to work on.”
The Buckeyes are set take the ice again following their week off on Nov. 6 and 7 against Bemidji State at the OSU Ice Rink.