COLUMBUS, Ohio - The No. 9/8-ranked Ohio State women's ice hockey team opened conference play with a commanding 5-2 victory over the St. Cloud State Huskies Friday night. Junior forward Emma Maltais notched a career-high four goals in the contest which ties a program record for goals per game. With the win, Ohio State improves to 3-0 (1-0 WCHA) while St. Cloud slips to 0-1 (0-1 WCHA).
"I think we came out strong in the first period and possessed the puck quite a bit in the first 20 minutes," Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said. "And you have to give St. Cloud credit. They came back and fought hard and never quit and I'm very impressed by the overall performance by everybody."
Ohio State got out to a fast start putting up seven shots to St. Cloud's two in the opening six minutes of play. Rebecca Freiburger and Liz Schepers both notched early shots but it was freshman Brooke Bink with the Buckeyes' first near miss of the game on the breakaway. Husky goaltender Janine Alder made the stop for one of her 15 saves of the opening period. With 4:43 to play the Buckeyes went on the man advantage as a Husky was sent to the box for holding. Just over the halfway mark on the power play Sophie Jaques took the puck into the zone for a shot and Freiburger was on the doorstep to put away the rebound. The Buckeyes kept their foot on the gas and notched 26 shots in to St. Cloud's 11 in the period.
The Buckeyes carried their first period momentum into the second as junior Lisa Bruno's shot was deflected by Maltais and slipped past Adler just under three minutes into the action. Ohio State's special teams went successful on both ends of the ice as the Buckeyes killed the first Husky power play of the night midway through the period. With 4:38 to play the Huskies cut the Buckeye lead in half with a goal from freshman Klara Hymlarova. Ohio State was quick to retaliate as Maltais put away her second goal of the game three minutes later and gave the Buckeyes the 3-1 advantage heading into the third period.
The final period saw a slower tempo to start and a slight advantage by the Huskies as they outshot the Buckeyes in the first half of the final 20 minutes. With just over three minutes to play in the closing period, Maltais completed her hat trick with assists from Tatum Skaggs and Eve Savander. This time it was the Huskies who responded quickly as Hallie Theodosopulus gave St. Cloud their second goal of the night just 16 seconds later. The score held at 4-2 until Maltais tallied her fourth goal on the empty net with 15 seconds remaining. Andrea Braendli recorded 16 saves in the contest.
"It's a team effort and some of Emma's plays are individual but today everybody was helping her out and she gives a lot of credit to her teammates," Muzerall said of Maltais' performance. "Everybody takes just as much pride as if it were their own. They're a really close knit team and they want to win, but when you have somebody getting four goals, that doesn't happen very often, let alone in our league."