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Transfer of power: Ohio State (10-5-1) at UMD (9-6-1)

What: Western Collegiate Hockey Association women's series Where: DECC (5,333) When: 7:05 p.m. today, 3:05 p.m. Saturday Rankings: UMD is No. 8; Ohio State is No.10 in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll. Radio: 710 AM Series: Bulldogs are 28-2-4...

What: Western Collegiate Hockey Association women's series

Where: DECC (5,333)

When: 7:05 p.m. today, 3:05 p.m. Saturday

Rankings: UMD is No. 8; Ohio State is No.10 in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll.

Radio: 710 AM

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Series: Bulldogs are 28-2-4 against the Buckeyes.

Ashly Waggoner never pictured herself as an assistant captain.

Certainly not two years ago when she transferred to Minnesota Duluth from Northeastern University. New team, new city, the defender from Fairbanks, Ala., felt suspiciously like a sophomore-aged freshman.

"They didn't know me," Waggoner said of her new teammates. "I had to show that I had work ethic and that I was also able to play at that level."

Waggoner adjusted quickly and now is -- defensively -- one of the Bulldogs' most consistent players, a player that lingers longer in the weight room, and a prod for her teammates. She has one goal and one assist, leads the team with 33 penalty minutes and has a vocal range that reaches the rafters at the DECC.

"She's the type of leader that gets you pumped up," senior goalie Riitta Schaublin said. "She leads on an individual level, too, talks to individual players."

"I lead more by worth ethic and always staying positive," Waggoner added. "Making our team believe we can do things because we are a very talented team."

The eighth-ranked Bulldogs (9-6-1, 9-4-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association), who are 3-6-1 in the past 10 games, host No. 10 Ohio State at 7:05 p.m. today and 3:05 p.m. Saturday at the DECC. It is the final series of the first half of the season.

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The Buckeyes (10-5-1, 6-5-1 WCHA) have a nine-game unbeaten streak that began Oct. 28 when they upset Minnesota 2-1.

Last weekend, the Bulldogs dropped a nonconference series against Harvard with 3-1 and 4-0 losses.

"We paraded off to the penalty box a lot," UMD coach Shannon Miller said. "Five-on-five we had more scoring opportunities than [Harvard] did. Harvard spent a lot of time on their power play. ... They just ate us up."

Miller said in their last 10 games the Bulldogs have shown a need to improve on back checking and power-play production.

"I'm not worried," Miller said. "We're playing well."

Waggoner thinks the team is ready to shed this rough stretch by "just being aware and trusting that you will do your own job and trusting the team to do their own job," she said.

Waggoner is paired with freshman Jaime Rasmussen as the Bulldogs' starters on defense. The combination is a good fit, Waggoner said. They are beginning to read each other better and perform as a single entity.

"She's a freshman and has a lot of potential," Waggoner said. "She has come a long way. I feel like I am her teacher and she is my teacher. ... We feed off each other and have an open field of communication. We can critique each other and we move together really well."

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* The Bulldogs are still without Juliane Jubinville (concussion), Samantha Hough (leg) and Suvi Vacker. All are slated to return in January.

* Elin Holmlov, who spent the Harvard series at defense, returns as a forward this weekend.

CHRISTA LAWLER covers UMD women's hockey and general sports assignments. She can be reached at (218) 723-5364 or by e-mail at clawler@duluthnews.com .

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