Badgers look to stay perfect against Ohio State this weekend

Wisconsin's assistant captain Brianna Decker (18), a finalist for the NCAA's Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award for player of the year, took 10 of the Badgers 38 shots for the night, coming up empty each time but maintaining pressure on the Golden Eagle's defense.
Wisconsin's assistant captain Brianna Decker (18), a finalist for the NCAA's Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award for player of the year, took 10 of the Badgers 38 shots for the night, coming up empty each time but maintaining pressure on the Golden Eagle's defense. Image By: Mark Kauzlarich and Mark Kauzlarich -- Daily Cardinal

The first-ranked Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team (4-0-0 overall) and the eighth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0-0 overall) face off for their first matchup of the season this weekend in a rematch of last year’s WCHA semifinal. In their last matchup, Wisconsin took home a 3-2 victory.

Wisconsin is coming off of a series sweep of Penn State last weekend by a combined score of 10-0. Redshirt senior goaltender Kristen Campbell recorded shutouts in both games while junior forward Daryl Watts totaled seven points in her first series at LaBahn Arena.

In the Buckeyes’ last series, they secured two wins against WCHA rival St. Cloud State by scores of 5-2 on Friday and 6-2 on Saturday in St. Cloud. Junior forward Emma Maltais scored four goals on Friday night alone and recorded two more assists on Saturday night. 

The series in Columbus will be the Badgers’ first WCHA series of the season after opening against two non-conference opponents. Last year, Wisconsin won the season series 2-1-2 including the WCHA semifinals. 

Ohio State’s offense is anchored by Maltais and fellow junior forward Tatum Skaggs. Maltais has tallied 8 points with a .263 shooting percentage. Skaggs has scored six points so far this season as well.

Defensively, Ohio State has been stout, but not quite to the Badgers’ level. Sophomore goaltender Andrea Braendli has started all four games in net this season for the Buckeyes with a .918 save percentage and 1.77 goals allowed per game. She has yet to record a shutout this year. Campbell, on the other hand, has a .966 save percentage and 0.54 goals allowed per game, good for 3rd in the WCHA.

The keys to this game for Wisconsin will be limiting penalties and power play chances against Ohio State. The Badgers have been staunch on the penalty kill this season against inferior opponents. Penn State and Lindenwood were held to a combined 2/15 on power plays this season, but Wisconsin’s clip of 4.3 penalties per game compared to Ohio State’s 2.2 could be a point of emphasis for head coach Mark Johnson heading into the series.

On the offensive side, Wisconsin will look to stay consistent with their scoring and physical play. The Badgers have scored more than three goals in each game this year and have scored more than four in all but one. The front line of Watts, senior forward Abby Roque, and sophomore forward Sophie Shirley has produced 11 goals and 19 assists through four games. That line will need to continue their dominance when Wisconsin takes on their first top-ten opponent this year.

Friday’s puck drop will be at 5:07 p.m. and Saturday’s is at 2:07 p.m. Each game will be available to stream on BTN+.

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