The Buckeyes fell by a score of 5-3 to the Golden Gophers in Saturday afternoon’s game, completing Minnesota’s road sweep. Although the game didn’t go the way OSU hoped, senior forward Taylor Kuehl said she was happy with the team’s fight in Saturday’s matchup.
“I think we came out with a lot more energy today, I think we knew we had to,” Kuehl said. “We didn’t want to play to them, we wanted to play our own game, which I think we did a lot better job of today and I don’t think the score shows exactly how the game went.”
Kuehl was a major asset to the Buckeyes this weekend, scoring a total of three goals in the series.
OSU (7-6-0, 5-5-0) tied the game twice and didn’t back down from the No. 2 Golden Gophers.
In the first period of play, Minnesota took the lead with a power-play goal almost nine minutes into the period. Gopher senior forward Meghan Lorence scored the first goal to put Minnesota on the board. She later scored two more goals to complete her first career hat trick.
OSU struck back early in the second with a goal from senior defenseman Sara Schmitt, her third goal of the season. Minnesota pushed ahead less than two minutes later. Another goal from Lorence allowed the Gophers to take a 2-1 lead.
The Buckeyes again tied the game when Kuehl scored a power-play goal at 12:33. But with only 14.9 seconds left in the period, Minnesota scored once again to send the Buckeyes to the locker room down 3-2.
Kuehl said that goal was the turning point of the game.
“We had just tied it up. We had momentum. I think that could’ve completely changed the game going into the third period with a tied game, anything could happen,” she said. “It’s anyone’s game at that point. Last two minutes coach is always saying ‘don’t give anything up’ and we fell short and it completely changed the outcome of the game.”
Minnesota came back out for the third and pulled ahead to a 5-2 lead. Sophomore forward Claudia Kepler closed the gap with a goal with a little over five minutes remaining, but that capped the scoring in OSU’s loss.
Senior forward Kayla Sullivan said a few mistakes were what kept the Buckeyes from walking away with a win.
“We needed to get in front of them and do better blocking shots and forcing them to turn the puck over,” Sullivan said.
Buckeye freshman goaltender Kassidy Sauve, was credited with 30 saves, while Gopher junior goalie Amanda Leveille had 18 saves.
Minnesota coach Brad Frost also said his team’s goal late in the second was the game’s key moment.
“Going into the third period being up one because of that late goal in the second was great,” he said. “And then to continue to extend the lead created a lot of momentum for us into the third and we were able to come away with the win.”
Even though Buckeye coach Nate Handrahan wasn’t thrilled with the outcome, he said he was happier with OSU’s Saturday performance than the night before.
“We played a different game today than (Friday), we really attacked the net today,” he said.
On Friday, the Golden Gophers tried to get on the board with an early scoring opportunity that was later called off by the referees. But that didn’t deter them as they finally took the lead with just 27 second left in the first period.
In a physical and high-scoring second period, the Gophers pushed ahead to a 3-0 lead. The Buckeyes quickly answered, scoring back-to-back goals. Kuehl scored both goals for OSU only 14 seconds apart from one another.
A goal from Minnesota at the 11:44 mark of the second period sealed the win for the Gophers, 4-2.
“We’ve sometimes played timid against them, but we can keep up. The game was closer than it looked,” Kuehl said. “We played the No. 2 team and it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. I think we can use this going into next weekend and help fuel the fire.”
OSU is scheduled to travel to Grand Forks, N.D., for a weekend series against North Dakota. The two teams are set to meet at the center ice at 8:07 p.m. Friday and 5:07 p.m. Saturday.