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Women’s Ice Hockey: No. 1 Buckeyes travel to No. 3 Minnesota, look to extend 10-game winning streak

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Senior defenseman Lauren Bernard (19) skates during the Ohio State-Minnesota State game Jan. 27. Ohio State won 6-2. Credit: Amanda Bovenzi | For the Lantern

The No. 1 Ohio State women’s ice hockey team is looking to continue its 10-game winning streak as it travels north this weekend to face off in a two-game series against rival No. 3 Minnesota.

This weekend’s rematch is the second-to-last road series of the season for Ohio State, with the final away games slated for Wisconsin Feb. 18-19 to cap the regular season.

The Buckeyes (24-2-2, 19-2-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) last played the Golden Gophers (22-3-2, 19-1-2 WCHA) in a weekend home series beginning on Oct. 28, 2022, where Ohio State struggled to surpass the Gophers’ defense, losing the first matchup by a two-score margin and tying in overtime to finish the series.

Minnesota’s history of victory against the Buckeyes extends over the past 24 years, having prevailed in 80 of the total 103 games, and both teams are currently No. 1 and 2 in the WCHA standings, respectively.

“This weekend is very important for us. We pretty much need both of these wins to keep us on top,” junior forward Makenna Webster said. “We can do that just by doing the little things and keep doing our games and using our strengths.”

Webster has helped lead the team with 12 goals and 15 assists, appearing in 18 of the 28 games this season.

Senior defenseman Lauren Bernard, who has blocked 25 shots this season, further explained the significance of the series and emphasized the breadth of skill displayed by the Gophers.

“They have a lot of talent on the offensive end, so I think us being really good in our defensive zone is going to be key for us,” Bernard said.

Minnesota, currently exceeding Ohio State’s winning streak by two games, ranks second in the nation for power plays with a 30 percent conversion rate, trailing behind the Buckeyes with a rate of 33.8 percent.

The Gophers are led by redshirt sophomore forward Abbey Murphey, who earned her fifth multi-goal game of the season Jan. 27, and sophomore goaltender Skylar Vetter, who has put up 496 saves thus far in the year.

In preparation for the rivalry, the Buckeyes put forth a teamwide effort in practice this week to fine-tune details and refine special teams, Bernard said.

Bernard said the team is focused on finishing strong and achieving its goals heading into the remainder of the season, and Webster believes the Buckeyes need to just play their style of game.

“Minnesota is a great team but we’ve had success against them, so I think just keep doing what we’re doing,” Webster said. “It’s going to be a great weekend.”

This series is set to begin at 7 p.m. Friday in Ridder Arena with game two’s puck drop slated for 3 p.m. Saturday. Big Ten Network Plus will broadcast.

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