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Ohio State Keeps Cruising with Shutout Win, Sweep of St. Cloud State

After a surprising start to the season that included taking five of six points on the road against Minnesota, and a home sweep of another traditional WCHA power in Minnesota Duluth, Ohio State came into this weekend’s series at St. Cloud State needing to prove they could hold serve against the league’s projected bottom tier as well.

The fourth-ranked Buckeyes did just that, following up Friday afternoon’s 4-0 victory with a 4-0 victory on Saturday afternoon to move their record to 7-0-1 on the year.

For the second straight game, the St. Cloud State proved tough against the Buckeyes to start the game. But Ohio State broke through 15 minutes into the first period when Emma Maltais and Maddy Field connected for a pretty power play goal to give the Buckeyes the lead.

The gap widened in the second period, with the Buckeyes controlling play for much of the period. Julianna Iafallo scored twice in the period to extend the lead to 3-0.

Emma Maltais added an empty-net goal in the third period to match Friday night’s score.

The Buckeyes move to 5-0-1 in WCHA league play with the win. They’ll have next weekend off before what is shaping up to be an exciting series at #1 Wisconsin in two weeks.

Notes and Thoughts

-Earlier this month, Ohio State only played four defensemen against Minnesota, and if you’re looking for nits to pick with a team that is clearly rolling right now, depth on the blue line might be one area for concern. Today, under a little less stress defensively, The Buckeyes kept the top two pairings together early in the game, but mixed in the third pairing for a regular shift in the first period and then mixed and pairings later in the game once the result seemed in hand.

I don’t have exact numbers, but most of St. Cloud State’s early chances seemed to be coming against that third pairing. The Buckeyes moved freshman McKenna Wesloh, who was recruited as a forward, but also played a lot of defense growing up, back to the blue line. She struggled defensively at times, which is to be expected, but does add an interesting offensive element from the blue line.

-It was an honest effort out of St. Cloud State today, but they just don’t have the offensive firepower to hang with a team like Ohio State, especially with Julia Tylke, who has scored two of St. Cloud State’s three goals on the season, out of the line-up.

The Huskies do a nice job of playing sound defensive hockey and taking their opportunities to counter-attack when they come. They had a few decent chances get through to Kassidy Sauve, but overall, there isn’t a lot of offensive firepower in the line-up.

-Kassidy Sauve took a few bumps from St. Cloud State, and apparently by the third period, she had had enough. With about 11 minutes remaining in regulation, Sauve was bumped, and as play went up the ice, she took a pretty solid whack at the player that hit her. After a long discussion by the officials, Sauve was given a minor penalty, though it easily could have been a major.

Had it been a major penalty, things would have gotten interesting. Ohio State’s back-up goalie Maggie Cory didn’t dress due to injury, so senior defenseman Liv Halvorson dressed as the team’s emergency back-up goalie, and would have been pressed into duty had Sauve been forced to serve her own major penalty.

Not content to tempt fate once, Sauve was bumped again on the ensuing power play and came charging out of her crease to about the bottom of the circles to go after the player that hit her before being held back by teammates. The officials called a minor penalty on St. Cloud State for the bump, and Ohio State took their timeout to calm everything down, which ended up putting a lid on things, though St. Cloud State took one last shot at Sauve in the game’s closing seconds, tripping her as she went behind the net to make a play.

Final Scoring

First Period

15:49 Maddy Field from Emma Maltais and Jincy Dunne (power play) 1-0 Ohio State

Maltais picked up the puck in open space at the top of the slot. She faked a slap shot, then fired a shot/pass to the left side of the crease that found a streaking Field, who deflected the puck into the upper corner of the net.

Second Period

1:13 Julianna Iafallo from Jacyn Reeves and Lauren Boyle 2-0 Ohio State

Iafallo picked up a loose puck at the right side of the crease and scored it for her first goal of the game.

11:08 Julianna Iafallo from Maddy Field and Lisa Bruno 3-0 Ohio State

Field made a nice pass from behind the net to Iafallo in the slot, and her wrist shot beat Polusny over the glove.

Third Period

15:58 Emma Maltais from Elise Riemenschneider and Jincy Dunne (empty net) 4-0 Ohio State

Maltais capped the game off with an empty net goal from just outside the St. Cloud State blue line.