Prior to Friday, Ohio State women’s hockey had given up six goals in a game just once all season. On Saturday night against Minnesota, the Buckeyes allowed six goals in the second period alone.
No. 2 Minnesota (24-3-1, 14-3-1 WCHA) completed the series sweep of No. 7 Ohio State (15-11, 9-9 WCHA) with a 7-1 victory in Columbus, marking five straight late-season losses for the Buckeyes.
“We need our goaltenders to stop the puck,” Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said. “That’s their one duty and they need to do that.”
For the second straight game, Minnesota shell-shocked Ohio State with a single period offensive onslaught that proved why it holds the WCHA and national high marks for scoring offense and scoring margin.
The Golden Gophers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the opening period on Friday, but they were even more dominant on Saturday, scoring five goals on Ohio State sophomore goalie Amanda Zeglen in the first 10 minutes of the second period.
Zeglen was given her first start since Oct. 5 after freshman Andrea Branedli and sophomore Lynsey Wallace had allowed a combined 23 goals in split play over the previous four games.
Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said the changes in goal should serve as a wake-up call for the struggling Buckeyes and added that she hoped the team would rally around the switch.
Braendli, the majority season starter for the Buckeyes, was inserted halfway into the second period and finished out the game 19 saves and two goals allowed.
Minnesota did not find immediate success against the Buckeyes. Ohio State opened with stout defense and edged the Gophers 10-7 in shots on net in a back and forth scoreless first period.
Muzerall said she was proud of the Buckeyes’ first period performance after taking a 7-2 home loss the night before.
“They could’ve come out with their tail between their legs and they didn’t,” Muzerall said. “They were like ‘OK, it’s another opportunity, it’s another day.’”
However, averaging a WCHA-high 7.7 penalties per game, an Ohio State penalty in the opening moments of the second period once again opened the floodgates for Minnesota’s high octane offense.
The Gophers ran a surgical power play that saw six quick shots on net, culminating with Minnesota freshman defenseman Crystalyn Hengler’s first career goal to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later Minnesota freshman forward Taylor Heise scored back-to-back goals within 40 seconds, the second of which was a deadeye slapshot just inside Ohio State’s defensive third that caught Zeglen off-guard.
Muzerall said she was less than impressed with a goal being allowed from that distance.
“I don’t know what she was looking at, but she should’ve had it,” Muzerall said.
Ohio State sophomore forward Emma Maltais scored her team leading 31st point on a short-handed penalty-kill goal near the eighth minute of the second period to give the Buckeyes a flash of hope.
That flash would quickly be snuffed out by three successive goals from Minnesota, including two more by way of power play opportunities.
Sophomore forward Taylor Wente, redshirt freshman forward Amy Potomak and freshman forward Alex Woken all got on the scoreboard for the Gophers to end the prolific period at 6-1.
Woken’s score, assisted by senior forward Taylor Williamson, was her third of the series.
Minnesota junior goalie Sydney Scobee made 21 saves on 22 shots from the sputtering Buckeye offense in her 11th start of the season. Scobee entered the series No. 2 in the WCHA in goals against average at 1.50 and save percentage at .934.
The third period saw Minnesota extend its lead with sophomore forward and WCHA goal leader Grace Zumwinkle’s third score of the series, giving the Gophers back-to-back seven goal performances.
Aside from goaltending errors, Muzerall said the Buckeyes need to put points on the board to be able to compete moving forward.
“We still need a goal scorer,” she said. “We need somebody that’s going to finish and get those pucks and put them in when we have those opportunities.”
Ohio State will go on the road next weekend in hopes of returning to the win column versus St. Cloud State. The puck will drop at 4:07 p.m. on Friday.