COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two quick goals were all it would take for St. Cloud State to defeat Ohio State Friday night. The Huskies managed to fend off a flurry of third-period shots to claim a 2-1 victory in the season opener for both teams.
The Huskies (1-0-0, 1-0-0 WCHA) took a two-goal lead midway through the second period and held on to defeat the Buckeyes (0-1-0, 0-1-0 WCHA) despite being outshot 26-14. On the eventual game-winner, junior winger Ashley Stewart grabbed a loose puck in the Buckeyes’ defensive zone and blasted a shot past senior goalie Melissa Glaser’s stick-side.
“The kids were chomping at the bit to get out there and play a game,” said St. Cloud State coach Jason Lesteberg. “It wasn’t a pretty win, but we fought hard.”
Sophomore goalie Lauri St. Jacques came one save away from starting the season with a shutout. The lone Buckeye goal came at 11:41 in the second period on the power play, 42 seconds after Stewart’s goal, on a shot from the blue line that was redirected by OSU captain Meaghan Mulvaney and trickled past a sprawled-out St. Jacques.
“It’s frustrating, obviously, but it’s not all about the shutout,” St. Jacques said. “It’s a team game, and we got the win so that’s all that matters.”
The Buckeyes could not match the initial intensity of the Huskies. Early OSU passes were often wide of their intended targets. It took St. Cloud just over ten minutes to score first on a blue line one-timer, shot by senior captain Tina Ciraulo.
“It was important getting that first goal, especially in the first game of the year,” St. Jacques said. “You don’t want to be behind right away.”
Despite playing for nearly half the game down only one goal, OSU could not find a way to get an equalizer. Tough defense by the St. Cloud State defenders deflected 13 shots over the course of the game to go along with St. Jacques’ 25 saves.
After starting the game sluggish, the Buckeyes put 15 shots on goal in the third period but failed to convert on any of them, including several after pulling their goalie with 1:09 remaining. St. Jacques, for her efforts, was named star of the game.
“We started to have a lot of opportunities, and with 15 opportunities you need to find a way to put one of those in,” said OSU coach Jackie Barto.
The Buckeyes were without standout sophomore defenseman Tessa Bonhomme, who is spending the weekend playing for Canada at a Thanksgiving Festival in Ontario. To compensate, Barto moved Mulvaney to the defensive end of the ice.
“Losing a player of [Bonhomme's] ability is tough, but Meagan did a great job,” Barto said. “But moving Meagan back there, you lose that spark up front, so each area is affected by that. There’s going to be people out of your lineup a good team is going to be able to deal with that and to persevere.”
Still, OSU managed to make the game go down to the wire.
“I think we started off a little slow, but we came back, and I think we have to come back tomorrow and do the same thing but start from the drop of the puck instead of getting down a couple of goals,” Mulvaney said. “I think we’ll come out tomorrow and finish the game the way we played the third period tonight.”
OSU’s backstopper, senior Melissa Glaser, stopped 12 of the 14 shots she faced. Many of those came on breakaways and screen shots that helped her team remain close throughout the game.
“Melissa played solid,” Barto said. “I thought she handled the puck well. We feel like we have good goaltending, and we’re solid back there.”
Neither team plans to do much to change their gameplan for the final game of the series. The Buckeyes stressed the importance of coming out better to start the game, while the Huskies feel they must play a more complete game to complete the sweep.
“We’ve got to form our own identity,” Lesteberg said.