The Ohio State women’s hockey team (11-5, 7-3 WCHA) capped off a series sweep of Minnesota Duluth (5-6-1, 3-5-1 WCHA) with a 4-1 win on Saturday.
Sophomore forward Tatum Skaggs led the way, earning the second hat trick of her college career.
“It always feels good to sweep back at home and be able to put up a really great game for the fans,” Skaggs said. “Getting three goals is great, but that is not the main focus of what happened this weekend. We swept, and that is all that matters.”
Much like Friday’s matchup, Minnesota Duluth took the lead early, less than four minutes into the first period. It was junior forward Sydney Brodt who snuck a shot around the corner by Ohio State goaltender Andrea Braendli to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 advantage. Sophomore forward Anna Klein and freshman forward Gabbie Hughes assisted Brodt on the goal.
Continuing the trend of similarities to Friday’s matchup, the game was tied up by Ohio State 12 minutes into the first period when the Buckeyes took advantage of a Minnesota Duluth penalty.
Skaggs scored her first goal of the game for Ohio State getting a rebound on the power play from a blocked shot by sophomore forward Emma Maltais and slapping it in. Maltais and redshirt junior defenseman Jincy Dunne were given assists on the play.
Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall praised Skaggs’ play and her team’s resilience throughout the game.
“When you play in a league like this, you need those reliable players or go to players like Tatum,” Muzerall said. “Playing against an Olympic gold medalist goalie and putting six goals on her in two games speaks volumes to our tenacity in front of the net. We were very relentless, and I am very proud of how they did not quit and kept plugging away.”
With momentum on their side, the Buckeyes continued their relentless attack on Bulldog goaltender, redshirt junior Maddie Rooney. Ohio State’s efforts were rewarded just over a minute after their previous goal, less than 14 minutes in the first period.
Freshman forward Sara Saekkinen found the net for the Buckeyes, giving them a 2-1 lead. Senior forward Madison Field and junior forward Olivia Soares were credited with assists for their effort on the goal.
The second period saw no goals scored for either team, with Ohio State successfully killingtwo Bulldog penalties to maintain its 2-1 lead. The Buckeye defense limited Minnesota Duluth to only eight shots on goal for the entire period.
Muzerall praised the Buckeye defense for its efforts against a talented Bulldog offense.
“We worked on our forwards making sure they played 200 feet to back check,” Muzerall said. “If you know you have players coming through the middle of the ice, you can play a little more aggressive. We’ve been working on our forward angling and also on our gap control. We’ve done a better job with our stick positioning and they’ve just been more disciplined lately.”
Ohio State continued firing shots at Rooney and got one in the net when Skaggs scored her second goal of the game seven minutes into the third period.
Skaggs said she was pleased with how the Buckeyes took advantage of opportunities to score off Rooney.
“You can’t take anything away from her, there’s a reason why she has a gold medal.” Skaggs said. “She played really well, but I think we just capitalized off their mistakes and it really feels good that we got a couple goals in on her.”
With time winding down in the third period, Minnesota Duluth pulled its goalie in favor of an extra attacker to attempt to mount a comeback. It resulted in with an empty net goal with just over a minute left in the third period to give Skaggs a hat trick for the game.
Skaggs credited her success to the fact that she played with a new line for this series.
“My line was clicking really well due to our hard week of practice,” Skaggs said. “It helped us learn to work well with each other and push each other. It definitely flowed into the game with us making good passes and finding seams, which helped with the success.”
Ohio State next travels up to Mankato, Minnesota to play Minnesota State. Games will be played at 7:00 p.m. on Dec. 1 and at 3:00 p.m on Dec. 2.