The No. 1 Ohio State women’s ice hockey team split its weekend series against No. 10 St. Cloud State, losing 2-1 Friday and bouncing back in a dominant 6-2 victory Saturday.
Friday’s game marked the first loss for the Buckeyes since the season opener at then-No. 4 Colgate Sept. 29.
Ohio State (14-2-0, 11-1-0 WCHA) jumped out to a 1-0 lead at the 11:31 mark of the first period on a goal from senior forward Makenna Webster but fell flat for the remainder of the game.
“They have great goaltending and shut it down defensively,” assistant coach Kelsey Cline said. “But at the same time, one of our superpowers is our offense. We have to use our speed and we have to get to the net. There were moments in that game we had opportunities and we didn’t take them.”
St. Cloud State (12-5-0, 7-4-0 WCHA) found its offensive groove in the second period, sending in two power-play goals by the hands of graduate forward C.C. Bowlby at 9:40 and freshmen forward Greta Henderson at the 15:37 mark.
Bowlby’s goal came just six seconds into the power play.
“They just had more bodies going into the net than we did,” senior defenseman Lauren Bernard said. “We weren’t able to retreat back and cover and pick up bodies.”
A lingering concern all season long, special team play ultimately stunted Ohio State in its loss to the Huskies.
“It’s been an issue all year,” Bernard said. “When you look at us five-on-five, we are very dominant. It’s just very frustrating because they get two power plays, and they score, and we get a couple and we can’t convert. It’s something we have to clean up.”
The Huskies went 2-for-3 on the power play and held the Buckeyes to 0-for-3.
Shut down by Husky senior goaltender Sanni Ahola, Ohio State racked up 47 shots-on-goal but found the back of the net just once.
“We saw a really good team on that other side,” graduate forward Jenn Gardiner said. “We just didn’t stick to our game for the full 60 minutes, and they really took it to us in the second period.”
Senior goaltender Raygan Kirk saved 15 shots but dropped her first game of the season, bringing her season record to 7-1-0.
Looking to avoid its first sweep since October 2021, Ohio State responded on Saturday to pick up its 14th win of the season, highlighted by senior forward Olivia Mobley’s two-goal performance. Mobley, a transfer from Quinnipiac, notched her first multi-goal game as a Buckeye.
“I took off, got the wheels moving and went straight to the net,” Mobley said on her first goal. “It popped right in front, and I knew the goalie was probably low so I aimed high.”
Ohio State started off scoring again on Saturday as graduate defenseman Cayla Barnes gave the Buckeyes the lead at 4:18 in the first period on an unassisted goal.
The Huskies knotted things up at the 13:25 mark on redshirt freshman Laura Zimmermann’s goal before the Buckeyes went on to put the game on ice by scoring four goals in the second period.
Goals from Gardiner and senior forward Kiara Zanon lifted the Buckeyes to a 5-1 lead after 40 minutes of play.
“When you can get scoring from more than just one line and produce a consistent offense, it’s always going to create a lot of chaos,” Barnes said. “We’ve had consistent scoring across the board recently, so whoever the goal can come from, it’s always a good opportunity.”
Gardiner’s goal put her at fifth all-time in career points at Ohio State with 147.
Showing resilience after dropping Friday’s matchup, Ohio State bounced back in every way it needed to, netting a power-play goal and cleaning up its penalty kill issues from the night prior, holding the Huskies to 1-for-3 on the power play.
The win on Saturday gave the team a much-needed morale boost after losing Friday, Mobley said.
“Capping the one spot last weekend and coming into this weekend, we knew we had a huge target on our back,” Mobley said. “I think this weekend just solidified that everyone is coming after us. It’s huge that we were able to hunker down and play with a lot more heart today.”
The Buckeyes bring in conference rival Minnesota State Saturday and Sunday for their final game of the calendar year. Puck drop is set for 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Both contests can be streamed on Big Ten+.