The turn of the calendar hasn’t translated to better results for the Ohio State women’s hockey team, but it will get a two-game crack over the weekend against the bottom-feeder of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
OSU (7-17-0, 3-15-0) is set to travel to Mankato, Minnesota, over the weekend to take on Minnesota State. The Buckeyes swept the Mavericks (3-19-2, 0-17-1) in a home series in October, and they hope to have the same success this weekend.
The Scarlet and Gray enter the weekend having only won one game in their last six contests, but they hold strong with the belief that their work in practice will begin to translate into in-game success.
“We haven’t really let off the gas pedal as far as working the girls,” OSU assistant coach Carson Duggan said. “They’ve had a couple of really tough days of practice as far as battling and skating, and their work ethic has been great.”
The Buckeyes are on an eight-game winning streak against the Mavericks and they believe that outworking their opponent will help extend the streak to 10 after this weekend.
“First and foremost we have to outwork them,” Duggan said. “I thought this past weekend we played a really good brand of hockey and we just have to continue doing that and focus a little more on bearing down and putting pucks in the back of the net. Stick to our gameplan and we’ll hopefully have a successful weekend.”
Struggling to light the lamp
Last weekend, OSU outshot St. Cloud State 25-20 in the first game and 37-17 in the second, but lost both contests 2-1. The team has been happy with its improved offensive production in terms of shots but is still looking to score more goals.
“This week we’ve definitely focused on getting those gritty goals,” senior forward Julia McKinnon said. “Not all goals are going to be nice, so I think just getting greasy goals and going to the front of the net and continuing to shoot, one of them are going to go in.”
Duggan said she thinks that beyond the ability to score goals, the team also needs to have the drive to put the puck in the back of the net.
“It’s a skill but it’s also a will to want to score, you have to bear down and we’ve been really preaching that this week in practice,” Duggan said. “Some of the drills we’re doing are catering to getting more of those garbage goals around the crease versus just the shots from the outside. I think not staying on the perimeter as much and trying to insert ourselves more into the slot area. So that’s been a priority this week in practice and hopefully that translates this weekend.”
OSU has scored just three goals in the last four games, so the team has made that one of the most crucial elements to improve upon.
“You can’t win games only scoring one goal a game,” McKinnon said. “I think just moving forward we have to get those goals because you can’t win one-goal games”
In the second game of the October series, OSU shut out Minnesota State. Duggan said she believes staying strong defensively depends on eliminating shots off rebounds.
“If we continue to stick to the systems and play tough defense, let (sophomore goalie) Alex (LaMere) see all the shots and eliminate their second and third chances, I think that’s the recipe for success defensively,” Duggan said. “The girls know that, so I think they should be ready defensively.”
The puck is scheduled to drop in Mankato at 3:07 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
OSU will continue to set up temporary residence in The North Star State the weekend after taking on the Mavericks when it is slated to travel to Duluth to face OSU coach Jenny Potter’s alma mater, Minnesota Duluth, which swept OSU in December. Puck-drop is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. on Jan. 29 and 5:07 p.m. the following day.