COLUMBUS, Ohio — The No.6 Ohio State Buckeyes upset No. 1 Wisconsin with a 1-0 win Friday night.
Freshman Emma Maltais scored the night’s only goal just 15 seconds into the second period. She got a quick break and her shot went off the iron and into the net.
After not putting together much dangerous in the first period, Ohio State came out quickly in the second and controlled the entire period, out-shooting the Badgers 21-2. The final shot sheet put Ohio State at 27 shots to Wisconsin’s 26 – just the second time all season the Badgers had been out-shot.
The first period looked skewed toward Wisconsin, as they carried a 12-2 shot advantage into the period break. The teams seemed to be feeling each other out. The Buckeyes had their share of possession, but weren’t able to build up anything close to the net. Their shots were from outside and were blocked by the Badgers. Wisconsin got in close on Buckeye goalie Kassidy Sauve, but the reigning WCHA Goaltender of the Month could not be beat.
It was Ohio State’s eighth shutout of the season, trying a program record dating back to the 2000-01.
The Buckeyes hadn’t beaten Wisconsin in nearly three years, dating back to Valentine’s Day 2015.
Wisconsin had the better of Ohio State when these two teams met in Madison in early November. The Buckeyes had an eight-game unbeaten streak to start the season, but lost 7-0 and 3-1 to the Badgers.
Since then, Ohio State coach Nadine Muzerall said her team has grown tremendously. The players didn’t need a lot of motivation or pumping up this week to play the top team in the country.
“There was some redemption needed after our play against them in early November,” said Muzerall. “They’re playing a lot smarter. I think they did the simple things. We didn’t cough up the pucks and everybody did what they needed to do. They executed it perfectly.”
The Buckeyes used the smaller ice sheet at OSU Ice Rink to their advantage. Wisconsin is a speedy team that likes to stretch the width of the ice. It was clear they struggled a bit with the narrower sheet. Combine that with the Buckeyes’ ability to disrupt their normally smooth passing game and it put Wisconsin off their rhythm.
“It’s really hard to play in our rink. It’s small ice and quick decisions have to be made. But lucky for us we’re on it every day, so it’s to our advantage,” said Muzerall.
Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said the smaller ice is something visiting teams try to prepare for, but that it’s impossible to really get a feel for until they’re actually on it. The narrow sheet requires a team to possess the puck or risk spending a lot of time chasing the puck and on defense, something the Badgers learned the hard way in the second period.
Wisconsin responded in the third period, especially in the waning minutes, putting pressure on Sauve and the Buckeye defense, but could not find an equalizer. As the game went on, Muzerall spoke to her team about sticking to their game plan and not getting overwhelmed like they did in Madison in November. It seems it was successful.
“After each period I just told them to stay calm. No turnovers at the blue. Stay out of the box. And they’re the number one team in the country for a reason, so don’t think that they’re going to go away,” she said.
The two teams return to the ice Saturday at 3 pm eastern time to wrap up their season series.