The No. 7 Ohio State women’s hockey team (10-5, 6-3 WCHA) won a difficult battle against an Olympic gold medalist in convincing fashion, defeating No. 7 Minnesota Duluth (5-5-1, 3-4-1 WCHA) 3-1 on Friday.
Senior forward Madison Field was the hero of the night, scoring two goals in the Buckeye victory.
Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall thought her team was brilliant defensively, coming off of two losses to previously winless Bemidji State this past weekend.
“It was a character win where we knew we messed up last weekend and we had to stop the bleeding, because four of our five losses are the result of our own doing,” Muzerall said. “If you want to win, you’re going to have to stop shooting yourself in the foot and go the distance. They did, they wanted it and they were very deserving.”
The Buckeyes fell into a hole early in the first period when Minnesota Duluth took advantage of a penalty by Ohio State. At 6:26, junior defenseman Jalyn Elmes slapped a high shot past freshman goaltender Andrea Braendli for a power play goal to give the Bulldogs a quick 1-0 lead.
Not to be deterred, Ohio State struck back just a minute and a half later when Field snuck one by redshirt junior goaltender and 2018 Olympic gold medalist Maddie Rooney during a cluster at the net, tying the game up at one all.
Field said the quick goal for Ohio State represented the team’s shift in mentality heading into the series against Minnesota Duluth.
“It was night and day and I think we were really motivated from last week because we took a hit in the polls and none of us wanted that. It was an eye opener,” Field said. “We had a tough week in practice and, as a senior captain, I think it’s important that I am contributing. It’s awesome to get those big goals.”
Both teams continued to trade shots as the game moved into the second period with neither being able to find the net. However, penalties were quickly becoming the difference maker, only this time, a penalty was called against Minnesota Duluth that the Buckeyes took advantage of.
Sophomore forward Emma Maltais was the one who found the net for Ohio State, getting a shot by Rooney for a power play goal at 11:00 into the second period for her eighth goal of the season. Maltais had help from sophomore forward Tatum Skaggs and freshman defenseman Sophie Jacques on the play, giving both players assists on the goal.
“We need that relentlessness from players like Emma and we expect that from them,” Muzerall said. “We talk about that relentlessness as our pillar. We’re like that on our fore check, our neutral zone and our penalty kill. We were lacking that in our power play and I think that is because we mentally knew we had an extra man. We would take that shift off instead of playing like you were at even strength. We challenged Minnesota Duluth in the corners, did the dirty part of getting the puck and then gracefully made the plays.”
Riding the momentum of their goal, Ohio State extended its lead to 3-1 with time winding down in the second period with Field scoring her second goal of the game.
Field said Ohio State was prepared for a goaltender of Rooney’s caliber.
“Obviously, we knew she was an Olympic gold medalist, but we weren’t scared of that,” Field said. “There are a bunch of good goalies in this league and she’s just another good goalie. We just kept getting pucks to the net and we capitalized on those.”
Minnesota Duluth attempted to mount a comeback and force overtime in the third period, even going as far to remove their goalie in the final two minutes of the game. The extra attacker was not enough to get the job done as Braendli and the Buckeye defense limited the Bulldog offense to only eight shots on goal in the period to clinch the win.
Ohio State will try and sweep Minnesota Duluth in the second game of this weekend series at 1 p.m. on Saturday.