Charly Dahlquist was honored before her final regular season home game as a Buckeye on Saturday, but it was the senior forward’s pair of goals in a must-win game that garnered her the brightest spotlight of the night.
No. 9 Ohio State women’s hockey (18-12-0, 12-10 WCHA) avenged its three previous losses to Bemidji State (11-17-2, 8-10-2 WCHA) with a 5-1 victory to avoid a season sweep and stay in NCAA Tournament contention in Columbus on Saturday.
“Charly just plays with that chip on her shoulder and she was going to go down swinging and lose a leg before ever losing this game,” Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said.
Ohio State senior defenseman Lauren Boyle, who grew up with Dahlquist in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, added two assists in the game to give her three points for the series.
Dahlquist said it was emotional to come up with a big performance alongside her childhood friend on senior night.
“It’s awesome playing with those five seniors,” Dahlquist said. “Those girls mean the world to us and playing with my best friend since the age of 6, it’s definitely something you can’t describe.”
Dahlquist’s second goal of the night, just 48 seconds into the third period, kick-started a three-goal final period for Ohio State that enabled it to put away the fifth-place team in the WCHA for the first time in their four season meetings.
Bemidji State redshirt sophomore goalie Lauren Bench, the heroine of Friday night’s upset with 44 saves, allowed two goals on the first eight Ohio State shots alone and finished with 29 saves on 34 shots.
Ohio State kicked off senior night with a bang, as junior forward Rebecca Freiburger scored in the opening minute of the game on assists by sophomore forward Liz Schepers and redshirt junior defenseman Jincy Dunne.
Muzerall said an early goal was necessary after converting only two goals on 46 shots on net in Friday’s loss.
“We talked to them about having a purpose in front of the net,” Muzerall said. “I think getting that first goal set the pace.”
Dunne’s assist, her 20th of the season, extended her lead as highest scoring defenseman in the WCHA with 23 points overall.
Bemidji State, who did not put up a single shot on net in the first five minutes of the period, allowed another goal on a deflection in front of the net for Dahlquist’s first score of the game.
Dahlquist’s goals, which were both upheld after official reviews, were her 11th and 12th of the year, good for No. 4 on the team.
Sophomore forward Emma Maltais and Boyle both notched their second points of the series with assists on the first Dahlquist goal and would both add another before the game’s end.
The Beavers’ lone goal came in the final minute of the first period, with sophomore defenseman Mak Langei sneaking her second goal of the season past Ohio State sophomore goalie Amanda Zeglen to take a 2-1 deficit into the locker room.
With usual starter freshman goalie Andrea Braendli out for the second straight game for the Buckeyes for an international tournament, Zeglen got the start in goal for Ohio State.
The second period, where Bemidji State flourished on Friday with two goals and a 14-11 shots on net advantage, was an offensive sputter in game two. The Beavers were never able to flip the momentum on the Buckeyes, as Zeglen faced just one shot in the second period and 19 all game.
Bemidji State junior forward Abby Halluska, who scored in back-to-back games against the Buckeyes, did not attempt a single shot on Saturday.
Maltais, the WCHA’s third leading scorer, added another point with a penalty shot goal in the third period following a Bemidji State tripping penalty on Langei to extend the Ohio State lead to 4-1.
Boyle’s second assist came on the game’s final goal, a slap shot from freshman defenseman Sophie Jaques, her fifth of the year, to cap the vengeful performance at a 5-1 result for the Buckeyes.
With an NCAA Tournament slot hanging in the balance, Ohio State will face No. 1 Wisconsin on the road after a bye week that Muzerall said will allow her players to get re-energized.
“It’s going to be a great battle against a good opponent, but we’re going to make sure we’re ready for them,” Muzerall said.