The No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers (4-2) fell to the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-3) 2-1 in overtime Saturday afternoon to split the home series.
The Buckeyes’ lone goal in regulation came during a power play score by Riley Brengman in the second period. The Badgers were then able to answer late after Daryl Watts scored late in the third period to send the game into overtime. Halfway through the three-on-three overtime, Liz Schepers netted the game winner for the Buckeyes to earn them a victory and a series split.
While the result for the Badgers was unfavorable, it was an incredibly strong defensive effort, as the Badgers were able to limit the high-power offense of the Buckeyes to only two goals during the entire series, a stark contrast to the Buckeyes previous 11-goal effort against Bemidji State a week prior.
The game presented a high-water mark for goalkeeper Kennedy Blair, who posted a UW-career high 37 saves during the game. On this effort, Blair credits the strong defensive back line of the Badgers.
“There were a lot of shots in front of me but I think our team did really well just blocking them when needed and getting in our zone,” Blair said.
The end of this series marks only the sixth game that Wisconsin has played this season, after much of its games were unable to be played due to COVID-19 safety protocol. Due to the way that scheduling has worked out, Wisconsin has already faced Ohio State in four out of these six games. Head Coach Mark Johnson had a positive outlook on this situation, claiming that it has been a good experience for his players.
"We've had basically five practices in the short time we've been together,” Johnson said. “Four of our six games have been against Ohio State so it's been a good learning opportunity. It's a good visual for the players when they're playing and certainly on the bench watching the other groups go out there."
Despite the unfavorable result given the current conditions, the Badgers will need to transition fast in order to be successful down the stretch. On the improvements that the Badgers need to make, Johnson emphasized improving the Badgers’ penalty killing ability.
"There are some things we have to work on if we're going to make strides and try to improve here,” Johnson said. “Certainly the power play has to get better and try to create some more opportunities so when we get those in a game, especially today in the third period where you could have capitalized on one or two of those and maybe won the hockey game. But it's still early, it's something that we can continue to work on."
The Badgers will finish up their homestand against the No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers next weekend.