|Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-1-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) vs
Ohio State University Buckeyes (2-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA)
Friday, October 6 at 7:07 p.m.
Saturday, October 7 at 3:07 p.m.
Ridder Arena, Minneapolis, MN
The Gopher Women's Hockey team remains at home, opening the WCHA conference portion of their schedule against The Ohio State University Buckeyes at Ridder Arena. The two teams square off on Friday, October 6, at 7:07 p.m., with a rematch on Saturday, October 7, at 3:07 p.m.
Last season against Ohio State – Minnesota went 3-0-1 against the Buckeyes during their 2016-2017 season series, though the Gophers' combined goal differential was only +3 and OSU held a 1-0 lead in each of their three losses. The Gophers swept the games in Columbus in October, 3-2 and 2-1, and took the first game of the January series at Ridder Arena, also 2-1. The Buckeyes did salvage a couple of points in the standings, getting a 1-1 tie in the second game in Minneapolis and winning the subsequent shootout, 2-1; Julianna Iafallo netted the shootout winner in the seventh round. Across all four contests, Maddy Field led the Buckeyes with a goal and 3 assists, and Kassidy Sauve only allowed 8 goals while making a whopping 156 saves. Sarah Potomak netted four goals, including a hat trick in the opener in Columbus, while dishing out two assists, and Patti Marshall recorded 4 assists. Sidney Peters stopped 34 of 37 shots in the October series, while Emma May made 32 saves in the January games.
Analyzing the Buckeyes – Having a full off-season as the head coach at OSU, Nadine Muzerall looks to improve on last year's 14-18-5 overall record. In that quest, she added a fellow Gopher alumna to her coaching staff, announcing the signing of Milica McMillen as an assistant coach on July 27.
The Buckeyes finished 5th in the WCHA a year ago, going 7-16-5 in conference play. Travelling to North Dakota for the conference quarterfinals, Ohio State took the opening game, 3-2 in overtime as Lauren Boyle scored 2:05 into the extra session. But the Fighting Hawks knotted the series at a game apiece with a 4-1 win in game 2, and got their own overtime win in game 3, 2-1, when Emma Nuutinen scored at the 9:04 mark, ending OSU's season.
Junior Maddy Field (#12) was the clear program scoring leader a year ago with 14 goals and 16 assists for 30 points, but she was the only Buckeye to surpass the 10-goal and 20-point marks. Senior Julia Iafallo (#18) was second on last season's scoring list, lighting the lamp 7 times and adding 12 assists for 19 points.
One expected strength for OSU is between the pipes. After missing the 2015-2016 season with an injury, goaltender Kassidy Sauve (#32) returned in 2016-2017 for a strong sophomore year, posting a .942 save percentage and 2.00 goals-against average, finishing 14-17-5 with 6 shutouts in her 36 starts. This year, she was selected by the WCHA coaches as the conference's Preseason Player of the Year, earning 6 of the 7 votes. Two freshmen – Maggie Cory (#1) and Amanda Zeglen (#31) – are backing up Sauve this season.
Recent action for Ohio State – The Buckeyes opened the regular season at home this past weekend, sweeping Rensselaer 4-1 and 4-0. Freshman Tatum Skaggs was named as the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week for tallying 3 goals and an assist. Maddy Field added two goals, and Emma Maltais recorded a goal and two assists. Kassidy Sauve stopped a combined 46 of 47 shots to earn the two victories.
Gophers split with Merrimack in season-opening series – Minnesota opened the 2017-2018 season by taking a 3-1 lead against Merrimack with 30 seconds left in the first period; Kippen Keller tallied the opening goal, and freshmen Grace Zumwinkle and Olivia Knowles each scored their first career goal just 16 seconds apart. However, the Warriors got one back just 17 seconds after that when Katelyn Rae cut their deficit to 3-2 before the intermission, then took the lead just 5:16 into the second period after goals by Maddy Burton and Jessica Bonfe. Merrimack netminder Léa-Kristine Demers kept the Gophers from finding an equalizing goal, making 40 saves in the 2nd and 3rd periods alone and stopping 54 shots for the game to give the Warriors the 4-3 victory.
The rematch between the two teams saw Alex Gulstene and Merrimack's Samantha Ridgewell start in goal. After a scoreless first period, Nicole Schammel and Zumwinkle put Minnesota up 2-0 after two periods. Paige Sorensen cut Merrimack's deficit to 2-1 early in the third, but Schammel scored again less than two minutes later, and Taylor Wente tallied her first collegiate goal for a 4-1 victory. Gulstene made 14 saves for her first career win.
USA-Canada and Four Nations Cup ticket reminders – Five games (excluding Four Nations Cup matchups) have been scheduled between the U.S. and Canada National Women's Hockey Teams, in preparation for the 2018 Winter Olympics. USA Hockey is hosting games as part of “The Time Is Now Tour” presented by Toyota; tickets are on sale through TicketMaster (ticketmaster.com) for the games in Boston on October 25 and at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Sunday, December 3, at 3 p.m. Tickets for the game on December 15 in San Jose go on sale on Thursday, October 12. Meanwhile, tickets are also on sale through Ticketmaster Canada (www.ticketmaster.ca) for the game hosted by Hockey Canada in Quebec City on October 22, and will go on sale tomorrow (October 5) for the game on Tuesday, December 5 in Winnipeg.
Tickets for the Bronze and Gold Medal Games of the Four Nations Cup tournament, being played at AMALIE Arena in Tampa, Florida, on Sunday, November 12, are also now on sale. The Bronze Medal Game begins at Noon ET, with the Gold Medal Game to follow at 3:30 p.m. ET. Tickets can be purchased through TicketMaster here. Tickets for the preliminary round games at Florida Hospital Center Ice arena in the city of Wesley Chapel will only be sold at the door.
Team Finland update – The Finnish National Women's Hockey Team is back in action today through Friday, facing Team Sweden in three games in Mariehamn, the capital of the autonomous Finnish island territory of Åland in the Baltic Sea. However, neither Gopher alumnae Mira Jalosuo nor Noora Räty are with Team Finland for these games; Jalosuo is currently listed on the active roster of the Minnesota Whitecaps, while Räty is training with Kunlun Red Star, the Shenzhen, China-based expansion team in the Canadian Women's Hockey League.
Around the WCHA
Recent action – Wisconsin started the action last weekend with a sweep of Mercyhurst, 4-0 and 5-1; Brette Pettet was the WCHA Rookie of the Week with a hat trick in the second game, and Kristen Campbell made a combined 50 saves in net. Minnesota State defeated Lindenwood, 4-1, on Friday behind two goals and an assist from Jordan McLaughlin, but the teams tied 2-2 on Saturday despite two goals from MSU's Amanda Conway. St. Cloud State fell in overtime in their opening game against Connecticut, 1-0, but they erased a 2-0 second-intermission deficit in Saturday's rematch, winning 3-2 thanks to two goals from Julia Tylke and the gamewinner from Laura Kluge. Bemidji State and Syracuse played to a 0-0 tie on Friday with 30 saves by Abbey Miller (SYR) and 33 by Erin Deters (BSU), but the Beavers took game two by a score of 5-0 with a goal and an assist from Emma Terres. Finally, Jalyn Elmes netted both game-winning goals and Jessica Convery made a combined 34 saves as Minnesota Duluth shut out Penn State twice, 1-0 and 3-0.
Upcoming games – The other five WCHA teams all play non-conference series, and action again spans from tomorrow (Thursday) through Sunday. Minnesota Duluth gets things started with a road series at Boston College, tomorrow and Friday. Three series feature Friday and Saturday games, all on the road, as St. Cloud State visits Colgate, Bemidji State plays at Clarkson, and Wisconsin travels to Syracuse. Minnesota State wraps up the weekend with a Saturday-Sunday series at home, hosting Robert Morris.