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Rink Roundup: Where Ohio State’s hockey teams stand in their conference tournaments

Ohio State’s women’s hockey team makes another Final Faceoff appearance, while the men’s team gets to enjoy home ice.

Faceoff on the Lake - Michigan v Ohio State Photo by Jaime Crawford/Getty Images

It isn’t just “March Madness” on the hardwood, it also is also getting wild on the ice for both of Ohio State’s teams. The women’s hockey team have moved on to the next round of the WCHA conference tournament, while the men’s team is getting ready to start their drive to a Big Ten Tournament title this weekend.

Women’s ice hockey

The Ohio State women’s ice hockey team are on to the WCHA Final Faceoff this weekend, making the semifinals for the sixth consecutive season. The Buckeyes earned their spot in Minneapolis by beating Bemidji State on Friday and Saturday in Columbus to win the best-of-three quarterfinal series.

In Friday night’s game, Ohio State found the back of the net quickly, with Sophie Jaques scoring 1:38 into the game to give the Buckeyes the early lead. The standout defenseman was only getting started, as she scored with two-tenths of a second left in the second period to break a 1-1 tie. Jaques would secure her first-career hat trick with a goal in the third period to extend Ohio State’s lead to 3-1. Emma Maltais scored an empty net goal with a minute left to complete the scoring on the night for the Buckeyes.

The three goals Jaques scored on Friday night raises her season total to 22 goals, which is 10th in the country. Earlier this week Jaques was named WCHA Defender of the Month, which marks the third time this season that she has earned the honor. Jaques now has surpassed her goal total from last year, when she scored 21 goals and was named a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.

Ohio State got off to another quick start on Saturday, with Sloane Matthews registering her fifth goal of the year two minutes into the game. Bemidji State hung tough with the Buckeyes, keeping Ohio State from getting back onto the scoresheet until the 16:17 mark of the third period when Jennifer Gardiner scored her 21st goal of the season. The Beavers were able to pull a goal back a little over a minute later, but weren’t able to force a third game in the series.

With a goal on Saturday, Gardiner now has 54 points on the season, which is the fifth-highest total in the country. With 123 points in 132 career games, Gardiner is averaging nearly a point per game while sporting the scarlet and gray. The senior forward from British Columbia figures to factor heavily in the conversation when it comes to recognizing the best players now only in the WCHA, but in the NCAA this year.

Next up for Ohio State is the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, who the Buckeyes played in the NCAA Championship Game last year. Whenever the Bulldogs and Buckeyes take the ice together it is pretty much a lock that the game is going to come down to the wire, with six of the last seven meetings being decided by a goal or less. Last year’s title game saw Ohio State win a 3-2 nail-biter.

The fourth times the teams matched up on the ice this year were no different, with two of the contests going to overtime. Ohio State got the better of Minnesota-Duluth in the matchups, winning three of the four contests before the Bulldogs pulled one back with a 5-4 overtime win in the final regular season meeting between the teams in early December.

The Buckeyes opened up their season series with Minnesota-Duluth with a 3-2 win on October 21. Jenna Buglioni scored two goals in the game, including the game-winner in overtime to secure the victory. The Buckeyes found themselves trailing 2-1 in the third period the next day before Jennifer Gardiner and Riley Brengman scored goals less than five minutes apart to earn the comeback victory.

When the Buckeyes traveled to Duluth in early December, they were able to make it three wins in as many games against the Bulldogs with a 2-1 win. Paetyn Levis and Emma Maltais scored for Ohio State in the victory. The Buckeyes couldn’t make it a regular season sweep though, as Minnesota-Duluth came back the next day to win in overtime, overcoming two goals from Gabby Rosenthal.

Date: Friday March 3
Time: 2:00 p.m. ET
TV: B1G+

The winner of Friday’s game between Ohio State and Minnesota-Duluth will advance to the final to take Saturday’s final to take on the winner of the other semifinal between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The championship game will take place at 3 p.m. ET and will also be broadcast on B1G+.

Men’s ice hockey

While the women’s hockey team is closing out their conference tournament this weekend, the men’s team is kicking theirs off. The Buckeyes will host Penn State in a best-of-three series that will start on Friday. Ohio State will look to put the close to the regular season behind them, as they lost both games at Minnesota last weekend.

Even though the Buckeyes were hoping to be more competitive against the Golden Gophers, they can’t dwell on the 4-0 and 5-2 losses too much, since there’s no shame in losing to the top-ranked team in the country on their home ice. Had it not been for the second period in the opening game, the result might have turned out different, as Minnesota scored all four of their goals in the second period on Friday.

Ohio State bounced back on Saturday early, taking a 2-0 in the game. Cole McWard scored a power play goal with three seconds left in the first period, and Mason Lohrei netted one of his own just over a minute into the second period. The lead wouldn’t hold up, as the Golden Gophers scored five straight goals to earn the defend their home ice.

Even though Ohio State lost both games to Minnesota, they still earned the third seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which gives them home-ice advantage in the quarterfinals this weekend. The Buckeyes will now host Penn State, who they split the regular season series with. The teams played in State College in early December, with Penn State winning the first matchup 2-1 before the Buckeyes countered with a 4-3 win the next day.

When the teams played in Columbus in early February, Penn State won the first game 4-3, and again the Buckeyes were able to respond with a victory in the second game, beating the Nittany Lions 4-2. Tate Singleton loved playing against Penn State this season, netting three goals in the four games against the Nittany Lions. Jaedon Leslie, Jake Wise, and Davis Burnside all were able to score two goals across the four games against Penn State.

Time: 7 p.m. ET for Friday March 3 and Saturday March 4, 5 p.m. ET for Sunday March 5 (if necessary)
TV: B1G+

If Ohio State wins this weekend, they’ll at least be able to avoid Minnesota in the single-elimination semifinals that will take place next Saturday. The Buckeyes could host a semifinal if Michigan isn’t able to win their series against Wisconsin this weekend. If Michigan and Ohio State both win, the Buckeyes and Wolverines will square off in Ann Arbor next Saturday.