COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State University women’s ice hockey team set new highs for the program last season, but with the dawn of the 2018-19 season upon us the Buckeyes are looking to prove that they’re the real deal.
The Buckeyes return nearly 80 percent of its goal scoring from the 2017-18 season, including the top three goal scorers in Tatum Skaggs, Madison Field and Emma Maltais. The players accounting for almost 73 percent of the assists tallied last season are back for another year as well, led by Maltais and Jincy Dunne, who tied for the team lead with 24 assists each.
Maltais led the team as a rookie with 40 points on her way to winning the WCHA Rookie of the Year award. She finished second in the WCHA in points, while her 1.08 points-per-game led the conference. Her 40 points tied the third highest total for a freshman in program history.
Skaggs led the WCHA with 23 goals and .59 goals-per-game. The freshman finished the season with 37 points, good for fourth place in the conference. She also notched one of the four hat tricks in the WCHA last season, netting three goals against No. 9 Robert Morris.
Dunne, part of the Preseason All-WCHA Team, provided a steady hand on the defensive end while being one of the top offensive facilitators in the league. Dunne tallied 24 assists, tying her for second in the WCHA with fellow Buckeye Emma Maltais. Her 26 points finished tied for fifth on the team last season, but her 75 blocks came in at second on the squad.
Field notched her second consecutive 30-point season with 19 goals and 11 assists, good for third on the team and seventh in the WCHA. She completed the first hat trick of her career in a 6-0 win over Minnesota State in the first round of the WCHA tournament last season.
On top of these players and other talented returners, seven new Buckeyes will don the scarlet and gray for the first time
-#7 Eve Savander (Joensuu, Finland)
-#9 Madison Bizal (Elk River, Minn.)
-#15 Gabby Rosenthal (Blaine, Minn.)
-#18 Sophie Jaques (Toronto, Ontario)
-#20 Andrea Brändli (Wald, Switzerland)
-#25 Sara Säkkinen (Tampere, Finland)
-#27 Paetyn Levis (Rogers, Minn.)
Saekkinen made six appearances for Finland during the 2018 Winter Games, and 26 appearances for Finland during international play over the last year. Saekkinen also made 21 appearances with Team Kuortane in the Liiga league where she tallied eight goals and 11 assists.
Braendli, a goaltender hailing from Switzerland, served as a backup on the Swiss Olympic team in the 2018 Winter Games. In addition to her duties with the Swiss national team, Braendli made five appearances in net for SC Weinfelden Ladies and seven appearances for EHC Schaffhausen in the Swiss Division 2 last season. She has also won two medals at the Women’s World Junior Championships.
Savander scored five goals and notched 19 assists in 28 appearances for Team Kuortane last year playing alongside Säkkinen.
Bizal, one of the five finalists for the 2018 Minnesota Ms. Hockey Award, helped the United States win its fourth consecutive goal medal in the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Championship earlier this year.
The Buckeyes won’t be able to sneak up on teams like they did last year, but the team is fine with that. “We know it’s harder to play with a target on your back, but our veterans feed off that and will make sure our freshman are prepared for the season,” OSU Head Coach Nadine Muzerall said.
Ohio State opens the season at Quinnipiac this weekend. Puck drop for the season opener is set for 6 p.m.