As the daughter of an 11-year NHL veteran, Ohio State senior forward Charly Dahlquist was destined to don hockey pads and skates.
However, just two years ago she considered giving up the sport she has played since age 3.
Dahlquist has become an essential element of Ohio State’s offense, playing with an edge that defines the Buckeyes’ identity, but not before facing a scholarship termination at the University of North Dakota when its women’s hockey program was defunded after her second year.
“I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to play hockey at that point,” Dahlquist said. “We had four weeks to find a new home. It was super awesome that [Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall] took me in and was willing to lay a lot on the line for me.”
Dahlquist scored 15 total goals in her first two seasons at North Dakota. Muzerall said she teetered between filling the open roster slot with a forward or a defenseman that was more highly touted at the time.
“There was just something about Charly,” Muzerall said. “She was just energy and tenacious and had that chip on her shoulder, which was a style that I liked and felt like we needed to have that grit and attitude.”
Toughness and physical play are not all Dahlquist has brought to the Buckeyes. She ranks second on the team in points and is top 10 in the WCHA in goals and points this season, with 12 and 25 respectively, both career highs.
For Dahlquist, hockey pedigree is a family affair. Her father, Chris, played in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota North Stars, Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators from 1985 to 1996.
“I wanted to be just like him,” Dahlquist said. “I always say I’m bad luck because he got hurt the year I was born.”
The injury that ended his NHL career also afforded him time to coach his daughter, who spent her adolescence in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, competing with boys on the ice rink at an early age.
In high school, Dahlquist and Ohio State senior defenseman Lauren Boyle, who was her neighbor in Eden Prairie, garnered a slew of accolades on the ice. Dahlquist was named All-Conference in each of her four seasons and made All-State second team in 2013-14.
The USA National Camp selected Dahlquist in both 2012 and 2013, which she said was instrumental for her development as a player.
“Growing up in Minnesota and playing with some of the best girls in college hockey, I think it’s super beneficial, and you learn a lot in those camps,” Dahlquist said.
The decision to attend North Dakota hinged largely on her older brother being there, but Dahlquist said it was her friendship with Boyle that allowed her to find a new home at Ohio State starting her junior season.
“Lauren was a huge foot in the door for me at Ohio State,” Dahlquist said. “She got in contact with me and Nadine and showed me what the coaches don’t tell you. Having her there, knowing she really loves it was a huge thing for me.”
Dahlquist has blossomed offensively in her senior season, earning WCHA Forward of the Week on Oct. 30, scoring a hat trick against Mercyhurst on Dec. 16 and putting away St. Cloud State with two senior night goals in front of her father on Feb. 9.
Muzerall said Dahlquist’s statistical accomplishments have been surprising, but added that her improved numbers are indicative of the work she’s put into her game since arriving in Columbus.
“Last year she was a liability because she got so many penalties,” Muzerall said. “Now she’s been a force. She’s being rewarded by having her head up and seeing opportunities in front of the net to score.”
For Dahlquist, though, nothing has made her prouder than being a part of Ohio State’s first-ever Frozen Four run last season.
“It was something that was so special, especially with how we were the underdogs and people underestimated us,” Dahlquist said. “We have a team that’s so talented, and I think we can overcome anything we put our mind to.”
That talent includes sophomore forward Emma Maltais, the Buckeyes’ leading scorer, who has shared the front line with Dahlquist for the past two seasons.
“She’s an amazing player and an amazing person,” Maltais said. “She’s definitely a character to be around, and she’s always there for you on and off the ice.”
For Dahlquist, off the ice is where she said her future lies past this season. As a WCHA All-Academic Team selection last year, the communication major said she has a job lined up with Tech Systems in Columbus after graduation.
Both Muzerall and Maltais said that Dahlquist’s ferocity and loyalty will be characteristics sorely missed in the locker room next season.
From contemplating an early end to her career to becoming a key contributor on a Frozen Four hockey program, Dahlquist’s perseverance is a testament to her passion for hockey.
“It’s the love of the game that matters the most,” Dahlquist said. “If you stop loving the game, what’s the point? You always have to make it fun and light-hearted. I hope that I do that for my teammates, and I hope they can remember me in that way.”