Underneath the pads, helmets and skates, the Ohio State women’s hockey team might not look the way you expect them to. “Everybody sees us and they think, ‘You guys can’t be hockey players,’” said junior forward Ally Tarr. “They expect us to be really big or something like that and we’re not big at all. We get (called) dancers and gymnastics (gymnasts) when we travel … which is really funny.” After a strong start to the season, racking up a 16-10-2 and 11-9-2 conference record, the team is hoping to continue its success. “We are hoping it will continue through playoffs,” Tarr said. Coach Nate Handrahan said that the variety of personalities on the 23-person team has been a definite advantage for the team. “They are a great group of girls,” Handrahan said. “Lots of great personalities, lots of great kids, and I think that one of the things we are trying to make sure is that we are continuing to cultivate people.” Although this season has had its share of triumphs, the road to success has not always been an easy one for the Buckeyes, who dropped out of the USA Today top 10 poll on Jan. 29. OSU has lost three of their most recent six games, including one in last weekend’s split series against Bemidji State. “We are struggling a little bit but we try to see the positive and have fun out there,” said junior defenseman Annie Svedin. Handrahan said life on the ice can be particularly rigorous and “physically and mentally taxing.” “Our practices range from 45 minutes to an hour and 20 minutes high tempo to try to get ourselves prepared so that our players who need to be feeling confident, they can score on anybody or stop the puck on anybody,” Handrahan said. In between practices, studying and trying to have a social life, the team does manage to find some time for fun on the ice, Handrahan said. “Lots of days we are on the ice and music is blaring,” Handrahan said. “They like to laugh, they like to sing and they want to enjoy one another.” Some of the players said there are also a lot of shenanigans that go on, sometimes starting on the ice and ending at team dinners. “There are constant pranks and jokes going on,” Tarr said. “There’s a lot of pranksters on the team, so we like to keep it fresh and fun.” When it comes to game time though, the Buckeyes feel that they are often times in the shadow of other higher-attendance sports on campus. “A lot of people don’t even know women’s hockey exists here,” said Svedin. “They might really like the game so give it a chance.” OSU is slated to face Minnesota Friday at the OSU Ice Rink at 7:07 p.m.