Last weekend was a punch to the gut for the Minnesota State women’s hockey team, which was swept by No. 8 Wisconsin. The losses come after a six-game win streak by the Mavs that included sweeps of non-conference opponents Lindenwood and Long Island universities as well as No. 14 St. Cloud State University.
With confidence at an all-time high, the Mavericks traveled to Madison, Wisconsin this past weekend to take on the Badgers. The Mavs lost both contests, 2-1 and 5-0, but left the weekend knowing they can compete with college hockey’s best.
Senior forward Kelsey King said the team stuck with the Badgers, but eventually fell in a tougher contest the following night.
“Our team definitely worked hard and definitely put our best foot forward. Sometimes at the end of the day, your best is not good enough,” explained King. “Wisconsin was a good prep to remind us that we are going to play tough teams, but we can stick with them.
“Ohio State is not going to be any easier than Wisconsin was, and we need to continue to carry the mindset that we can outwork our opponent and dwindle them down,” she added. “That is what we are going to do at Ohio State. When we put that all together, that is when we play our best.”
With No. 1 Ohio State coming up this weekend, Minnesota State is going to need a similar effort to earlier in the year if they want a chance at taking down NCAA Division I hockey’s top team .
MSU got a chance at the defending National Champions when the two played in Mankato during the first regular season series of 2022. Ohio State came out on top in both contests, but the Mavericks lost by just one goal in both contests.
Part of the challenge against Wisconsin wasn’t holding the Badgers off the scoreboard, it was getting pucks into the net.
“(We) can’t play on the perimeter,” she said.“Good teams especially protect the house, protect the middle, and I think that was an issue we ran into, staying on the perimeter instead of getting pucks to the net.
“Against good teams, you do not get back door opportunities and bounces in front of the net often, so we need to take advantage of them,” she said.
The Buckeyes enter this weekend’s series with an eight-game winning streak and one of women’s hockey’s top scorers in senior Jennifer Gardiner. Gardiner, a Canada native, is seventh in points per game in the NCAA at 1.54.
Her linemates do not fall far behind her, as they average more than 1.2 points per game.
King said the Mavericks are aware of the type of game the Buckeyes play, and acknowledge that Ohio State plays fast, physical and high-scoring hockey. To stop it, King said the team’s goal is to come out hot.
“We need to demand the pace of play before they get to, and we need to outwork them,” King said. “Good teams can frustrate you, and generally, that tends to help. If we do as we say, the first team to three goals will most likely win the hockey game, we can catch them on their heels. That will give us a legitimate chance this weekend.”
The Mavericks will travel for both matchups, each being played this weekend Jan. 27 and Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the OSU Ice Rink in Columbus, Ohio.
Header Photo: MSU Women’s Hockey faces off against Ohio State in a two-game away series Friday, Jan. 27 and Saturday, Jan. 28. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)
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