Dec. 22, 2016

This season we have been publishing feature stories on select players in our home game programs. Through the first half of the season we have profiled five Ohio State women’s hockey players in these stories. This week we’ll be posting one each day so you can have a chance to catch up on the wonderful stories behind some of your favorite Buckeyes.

*Each story will be posted as it was written for that given weekend. Because of that, some information (records, statistics, etc.) will be outdated.

Back on November 5 against Lindenwood, Ohio State won 3-0 to complete the series sweep against the Lions. All three goals that day were scored by sophomore defenseman Lauren Boyle, her first career hat trick and the first by a defenseman in college hockey this season; and still the only one as of this writing.

A power play goal, a blast from the point, and an empty netter near the end of the game helped secure the win and the big game for Boyle, who was quick to deflect to credit onto her teammates.

“I was the one who found the back of the net but it wasn’t all me,” Boyle said. That day she credited the team’s power play units and the team as a whole for being ready to go right when the puck dropped in the first period. The sophomore also gave a stick tap to teammate and goaltender Kassidy Sauve.

“That was huge for us,” Boyle said after the victory against Lindenwood. “Sauve has been outstanding the entire season, so to give her something like this in return is really big for us, it’s a huge thank you.”

That “something” Boyle was referring to was a second consecutive shutout. In fact, Ohio State strung together three straight shutouts to start the month of November. It was the first time the program had blanked its opponent three games in a row in 15 years. The Buckeyes have also not allowed a power play goal in their last 10 games, one of only two teams in the NCAA to fall into that category (the other being No. 3 St. Lawrence).

For Boyle individually, she led all WCHA defensemen last month with six total points, most of which came during her five-game point streak in which she tallied three goals and four assists. The Eden Prairie, Minnesota native and All-WCHA Rookie Team honoree in 2015-16 was on fire, by all accounts, but still defers to team success over her own.

“Everybody has to do their job,” Boyle said when asked how a team can put together a strong defensive stretch like the Buckeyes had. “Especially in the defensive zone and on the forecheck. It’s all about doing your job, bearing down, and knowing where your girl is on the ice.”

On her play specifically, she said “It felt really good to be moving in the right direction.”

Thought the Buckeyes would drop two of the next three games, Boyle didn’t see any reason to fret.

“I don’t think that was our team,” she said. “I think the team that tied Wisconsin earlier in the season and the team that played within a goal of Minnesota is more our team. These next two weekends will be a good test to see where we’re at.”

The teams coming to OSU Ice Rink to close out the calendar year will be No. 9 North Dakota and No. 1 Wisconsin. Ohio State has had recent success against both teams: earlier in the year it gave the Badgers their first blemish of the season with a 1-1 tie, and last season OSU split its series with the Fighting Hawks.

One factor on the Scarlet and Gray’s side: their bye week, which came after the Minnesota State series. It not only gave the team a chance to rest up, but also to push a little harder during practice without fear of wearing themselves out for a game.

“For us we got to do some more conditioning and skating without having to worry about saving our legs for the weekend ahead,” Boyle said of the bye week. “We put in a lot of work; they were hard practices.”

She noted the time spent in the weight room, on the ice, and elsewhere will benefit the team in the long run and really helped them feel more prepared for the weeks ahead. 

Of course, there were other important things to take care of during the weekend off. Many of the Buckeyes were able to head home for the first time since arriving on campus back in August. Being able to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, and also attend the Ohio State/Michigan football game- which some did, gave everyone a chance to really relax and enjoy some time away from hockey.

“I think it’ll help,” Boyle said of having a bye week last weekend. “Having that break away from the ice will benefit us in the long run. It allows everybody to rest mentally and physically. It’ll allow us to come into these big games fresh and ready to go.”

Those big games are reminiscent of the tough schedule Ohio State had earlier this season, a fact that’s not lost on the players.

“It’ll be right back to how the beginning of the season was when we were playing all those ranked teams right in a row,” said Boyle. “We’ll see how we can bounce back from last weekend.”

Based off of what she’s said about the team’s preparation and rejuvenation tactics, there’s no reason to doubt that bounce back will occur against the Fighting Hawks and the Badgers.

“There’s that next gear that we have to be able to hit,” Boyle said. “We know we can do it. We’ve learned the systems, we’ve been through the practices, now we just have to put it all together.”