Freshman Liz Schepers’ late third-period goal lifted the No. 7 Ohio State women’s hockey team (16-5-4, 9-2-4 WCHA) to a 3-2 victory in a back-and-forth battle against No. 5 Minnesota (17-7-2, 10-5-2 WCHA) Friday at the OSU Ice Rink.
The win ended Minnesota’s perfect 10-0-0 road record and vaulted the Buckeyes ahead of the Golden Gophers to second in the conference.
The Buckeyes benefited from another solid outing from junior goaltender Kassidy Sauve, who stopped 31 shots. Last weekend against Robert Morris, she allowed just two goals, earning her WCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Freshman forward Emma Maltais got the Buckeyes off to a fast start with her 11th goal of the season, converting on the rush at the 1:20 mark of the first period. Senior forward Lauren Spring and junior defender Lauren Boyle were credited with the assists after pressuring the Golden Gophers into a neutral-zone turnover that created the opportunity.
Minnesota answered just over five minutes into to the second period when sophomore forward Alex Woken scored a power-play goal from the slot with Ohio State senior forward Julianna Iafallo in the penalty box for tripping. Woken’s eighth goal of the season was assisted by senior Sydney Baldwin and freshman Olivia Knowles.
At the 8:24 mark of the second period, Minnesota freshman forward Grace Zumwinkle gave the Golden Gophers their first lead of the game, deflecting senior defender Sydney Baldwin’s shot from the point for her 12th goal of the season.
Just past the halfway point of the third period, Ohio State junior forward Charly Dahlquist evened the score with her fifth goal of the season on a rush up the ice, which was capped off by a backhand finish in tight. Ohio State sophomore defender Jincy Dunne and Sauve tallied the assists after starting the breakout.
“[Dahlquist is] annoying to play against. She’s buzzing. She’s relentless,” Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said. “She had a great game along with almost everybody.”
With 3:56 remaining in the third period, Schepers fired the game-winning goal. Her sixth goal of the season beat Minnesota redshirt senior goaltender Sidney Peters low on the blocker side and secured a victory for the Buckeyes. Iafallo and junior forward Maddy Field were credited with assists.
The team is now riding a four-game winning streak, including multiple wins against highly ranked opponents.
“As we win games, confidence is happening,” said Muzerall, “What we have that we didn’t have last year is that we’re believing that we can win.”
Ohio State will look to maintain its momentum and complete the series sweep with a game against Minnesota at 3:07 p.m. Saturday at the OSU Ice Rink.