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Wisconsin women’s hockey: UW splits series with Ohio State

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No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 4 Ohio State each won a 2-1 game over the weekend.

The No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers (4-2-0) women’s hockey team split their weekend series with the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-3-0) at La Bahn Arena, winning 2-1 on Friday afternoon and losing in overtime by the same scoreline on Saturday.

Playing at home for the first time all season, the Badgers offense struggled to get things going on Friday. A scoreless first period saw the Badgers outshot 10-6 and the second period was no better for the offense. The Buckeyes were able to slip one past Kennedy Blair at the start of the period but then the reigning WCHA Goaltender of the Week put the clamps down.

Blair ended up saving 28 of 29 shots on Friday and earned the win thanks to two third period tallies, one by Daryl Watts (her third of the season) and one by Nicole LaMantia (her first). “I think the third period, it’s now or never mentality. There’s only 20 minutes left in the game, you have to score now or lose the game,” Watts said.

“[Kennedy Blair] was good, very consistent the whole game. As you mentioned, the one [save] she made in the third period was on the two-on-one, that’s a highlight-reel type save and probably nine times out of 10 the girl that shot that puck puts the puck in the back of the net, but Blair came across and gave us a chance to continue to play,” head coach Mark Johnson said after the game.

On Saturday, the story played out similarly to Friday as the teams battled to a 0-0 stalemate after the first period with OSU driving play. In the second period the Buckeyes broke through first, again, this time a power play tally which is the first time the Badgers penalty kill has been scored upon. Watts got the Badgers on the scoreboard in the third, again, with a snipe over the goalie’s shoulder but this times the teams headed to OT.

In the extra frame, much like the rest of the game, the Buckeyes were on the front foot and Liz Schepers fired one past Blair to give OSU the extra WCHA point. Despite the OT setback, the Badgers won the season series over the Buckeyes, taking seven of a possible 12 points in the four games.

Blair made a UW-career high 37 saves during the overtime contest. The graduate transfer ranks eighth in the country in save percentage with a .954 clip.

“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. Obviously there are still a few things we need to work on but you think about it, this is only our sixth game of the season technically. We’ve progressed a lot over the last few weeks but we still have a lot of ways to go. I think we’re getting in better shape each game too,” Blair noted on Saturday.

UW wraps up its homestand with a Border Battle against No. 2 Minnesota next weekend. Puck drop on both Jan. 15 and 16 is set for 2 p.m. CST and the games can be seen live on BTN Plus.