Two-goal performances from three Minnesota forwards — sophomore Grace Zumwinkle, junior Alex Woken and freshman Emily Oden — helped hand the Ohio State women’s hockey team its fourth straight loss, allowing more goals than it had all season against the Gophers on Friday.
No. 7 Ohio State (15-10, 9-8 WCHA) was dismantled in a 7-2 loss to No. 2 Minnesota (23-3-1, 13-3-1 WCHA) in the first game of its home series.
Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said the Buckeyes put up more of a fight than the scoreboard would suggest.
“We took it on the chin, but at least we went down swinging,” Muzerall said. “We’re going to come back and we have another round tomorrow.”
Oden, who had just two shots in the Gophers’ Oct. 19-20 split series against the Buckeyes, doubled her career high in points with two goals and two assists in the first two periods that provided Minnesota with an indomitable lead.
The No. 1 scoring offense in the WCHA and the country wasted no time applying pressure to the Ohio State defense, as Minnesota outshot the Buckeyes 19-6 in the first period and took a 4-0 lead into the break.
Zumwinkle struck first for the Gophers, capitalizing just 26 seconds into a power play to take a 1-0 lead over the Buckeyes three minutes into the first period.
Zumwinkle’s two goals on the night put her at 20 for the season, extending her own conference lead in the WCHA.
Minnesota followed up quickly with goals from Oden and Woken coming just a minute apart to give the Gophers three scores in the first eight minutes.
The three quick strikes from the high-volume Minnesota offense prompted a change at goal for the Buckeyes, with sophomore Lynsey Wallace replacing freshman Andrea Braendli, who has allowed 12 goals in her past five periods of play.
Questions surrounding who would start at goalie for Ohio State began when Wallace was given her first career start last Saturday against Minnesota Duluth, snapping Braendli’s 20-game streak as the starter.
Muzerall said the Buckeye goalies need to take accountability.
“I really thought that Andrea would’ve regrouped and come out and battled harder,” Muzzerall said. “When you’re giving up that many goals we have to try to find a solution defensively and with our goaltending.”
Wallace allowed four goals in her 31 minutes of action before Muzerall made another switch, affording sophomore Amanda Zeglen the opportunity to make six saves with no goals allowed in the third period.
Ohio State entered the game as the No. 1 team in the WCHA in penalties per game and its struggles proved costly against Minnesota.
Power play conversion goals bookended the first period for the Gophers, as redshirt senior forward Nicole Schammel provided Minnesota its fourth goal of the period, with her WCHA-leading 34th point of the season on assists from Zumwinkle and Oden.
Ohio State began to mount a comeback attempt early in the second period, as senior forward Madison Field made it 4-1 just over a minute in, her 96th career point.
Minnesota’s prolific scoring duo wasn’t finished, as Zumwinkle scored her second goal of the game on a Schammel assist 11 minutes into the period to put the Gophers back up four.
Ohio State redshirt junior defenseman Jincy Dunne, who scored the Buckeyes’ second and final goal in the second period, said Schammel and Zumwinkle provide a unique threat on the offensive front.
“Zumwinkle has the hardest shot I’ve ever seen,” Dunne said. “They don’t stop. They create, they move, they’re always a threat, so it’s really a privilege to play against them.”
After scoring a minute apart in the first period, Minnesota’s Oden and Woken bested themselves with back-to-back goals within 33 seconds in the second period to push the Gophers lead to five, as they’d take a 7-2 lead.
Muzerall said the Buckeyes can’t pity themselves if they expect a quick turnaround against a team of this caliber.
“You can’t sit around and cry about it,” Muzzerall said. “You have to fight. You can’t feel sorry about yourself you have to go back out there.”
Ohio State will try and avoid its fifth straight loss and a series sweep to Minnesota in Game 2 at home when the puck drops at 3:07 on Saturday.