In each of the last two seasons, Ohio State has defeated Minnesota State in the first round of the WCHA Playoff Championship. OSU has dominated MSU over the years with a 22-2-2 overall record against them, but five of those six Maverick points have come in the last two seasons. With newfound offensive spark from its freshman class in addition to its typically stifling defense, Minnesota State looks to make a move in the standings this weekend. No. 9 Ohio State, after a disappointing series against No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth last week, looks to rebound to its historical dominance of the Mavericks.
Game Time: Sat. 4 p.m. ET (Broadcast Links)
No. 9 Ohio State 4-2-0 (2-2-0 WCHA)
Top Scorers: Kelly Cahill, Fr., D (3-3-6), Jana Harrigan,
Sr., W/C (2-4-6), Amber Bowman, Jr., D (2-4-6)
Top Goaltender: Erika Vanderveer, Jr., G (4-2-0, 2.25, .919)
Scoring Offense: 2.83 (9th)
Scoring Defense: 2.67 (16th)
Penalty Minutes: 12.0 (18th)
Power Play: 12.0% (15th)
Penalty Kill: 87.5% (15th)
Ohio State is coming off a matchup with perennial WCHA powerhouse Minnesota-Duluth last weekend in Duluth. The results were not great for coach Jackie Barto as OSU lost 5-1 on Friday and 7-0 on Saturday. The young Ohio State team, with only three seniors on the roster, was overpowered by a bigger more physical Bulldogs team. OSU might have one of the nation’s best seniors though in WCHA All-Star and co-captain Jana Harrigan – Ohio State’s Most Valuable Offensive Player the last two seasons and all-time leading scorer (47-72-119). Fellow captain and WCHA All-Star Amber Bowman is the Buckeyes’ top defender as a junior. She ranked third on the team last season with 17 assists and chipped in four power-play goals; three of those proving to be game winners.
In net for the Buckeyes is junior Erika Vanderveer. Ohio State’s leading net minder in 2004-05, Vanderveer started 20 of a possible 37 games while splitting time with senior Melissa Glaser. With Glaser gone, Vanderveer is entrenched as the No. 1 goalie for the Buckeyes and thus far has responded. The Bradford, Ont. native has played in all six games compiling a 4-2-0 record this season, including one shutout over Northeastern on Oct. 14. Vanderveer has stopped nearly 92 percent of shots she has faced this season while giving up a stingy 2.25 goals per game.
“She has all the tools and the skills. Technically she is very solid,” Barto said. “She wants to be a difference maker out there and so far she is off to a good start.”
Minnesota State 3-2-0 (2-1-0 WCHA)
Top Scorers: Maggie Fisher, Fr., F (5-0-5), Amanda Stohr,
So., F (2-1-3), Kristina Bunker, So., F (1-2-3)
Top Goaltender: Britni Kehler, So., G (3-1-0, 1.50, .951)
Scoring Offense: 2.20 (14th)
Scoring Defense: 2.20 (13th)
Penalty Minutes: 16.6 (6th)
Power Play: 3.1% (24th)
Penalty Kill: 93.8% (3rd)
The Mavericks should be slightly more rested than normal this weekend after playing only one game of their scheduled two game set against another conference giant, No. 3 Wisconsin. Minnesota State came out on the short end of a 4-1 decision last Friday, but stayed within a goal of the Badgers until the 13 minute mark of the third period. Freshman forward Maggie Fisher is off to a red hot start, averaging a goal per contest so far this season. Fellow South St. Paul native (there are five on the roster) Amanda Stohr is tied for second on the team with three points. Stohr – a sophomore – led the team in goal scoring last season with 10. The Mavericks potent freshman trio of Fisher, Ashley Young and Felicia Nelson has only seen the ice together once this season. Young has a banged up shoulder and is questionable for this weekend. Nelson’s injury is a bit more tenuous. After playing in one game against Mercyhurst three weeks ago, Nelson injured her knee in the Mavericks’ home opener against North Dakota on Oct. 14. And although head coach Jeff Vizenor hopes to get the three on the ice together as soon as possible, it is unknown as to when that may actually take place.
Leading the Mavericks in net is sophomore Brit Kehler. The Mitchell, Manitoba product took not being named back to last summer’s Canadian Under-22 team personally and came to Mankato ready to wrestle starts away from junior Laura Brennan. Brennan has also been a bit banged up, as Kehler started back-to-back games against North Dakota two weeks ago, as well as MSU’s game against Wisconsin last Friday. Kehler’s 3-1-0 record is impressive, but not quite as gaudy as her 1.50 goals against or her .951 save percentage. In MSU’s season opener against then-No.5 Mercyhurst, Kehler was the backstop in Minnesota State’s 2-0 shutout win. Brennan has used the time to heal and was actually scheduled to start game two of the Wisconsin series, which was postponed until November because of a broken water main near All Seasons Arena in Mankato. Expect to see Brennan and Kehler both start a game this weekend, regardless of what happens on Friday.