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Women’s Hockey: No. 10 Ohio State costs No. 1 Wisconsin conference title with two shootout wins

Ohio State then-freshman goalie Andrea Braendli (30) prepares for a shot in the game against Minnesota State on Oct. 11. Ohio State won 4-0. Credit: Wyatt Crosher | Assistant Sports Editor

No. 10 Ohio State (18-12-2, 12-10-2-2 WCHA) clinched home ice for the WCHA Tournament and cost No. 1 Wisconsin (28-4-2, 18-4-2-0, WCHA) the regular season conference title with back-to-back ties and shootout victories on the road.

Game 1

A career-high 52 saves from freshman goalie Andrea Braendli helped garner the Buckeyes two points with a tie and shootout win against the Badgers on Friday night.

Braendli stopped three Wisconsin shots in the shootout to cap off her impressive performance, allowing sophomore forward Emma Maltais to seal the deal for the Buckeyes with the winning score.

Wisconsin took the early lead on the first night of its senior weekend with a power-play goal from junior forward Abby Roque eight minutes into the first period.

The goal, assisted by freshman forward Sophie Shirley and junior defenseman Mekenzie Steffen, was Roque’s ninth goal and 35th point of the season, which gives her the fifth most in the conference.

Ohio State entered the game leading the WCHA with 7.5 penalty minutes per game, and it was a tripping call on senior forward Charly Dahlquist that allowed the high-powered Wisconsin offense to take advantage early.

The Buckeyes would retaliate seven minutes into the third period when junior forward and Wisconsin native Tatum Skaggs scored her team-leading 15th goal of the season to tie the game 1-1 and send it into overtime.

Maltais and redshirt junior Jincy Dunne both notched assists on the goal. At 1.26 points per game, Maltais is second in the WCHA and Dunne’s .86 average makes her the highest scoring defenseman in the conference.

Wisconsin entered the series tied for second in the country with 122 season goals, but only mustered one score on Friday despite more than doubling Ohio State’s shot output at 53-24.

It was Braendli’s first action for the Buckeyes since she earned NCAA No. 2 Star of the Week honors for back-to-back shutout performances against St. Cloud State on Feb. 1 and 2. She had missed the last two games for an international tournament with the Swiss National Team before Ohio State’s bye week.

With 52 saves on Wisconsin’s 53 shots, Braendli came away with a .981 save percentage on the night, improving the WCHA second-best .934 mark she had for the season entering the series.

The two points clinched the No. 3 seed and home ice for Ohio State in the WCHA Tournament that opens next Friday.

Game 2

The Buckeyes cost Wisconsin its fourth straight regular season conference title with a second straight shootout victory to spoil senior night for the Badgers Saturday.

Ohio State sophomore forward Liz Schepers’ conversion in the shootout after a 2-2 tie allowed the Buckeyes to escape a sold out LaBahn Arena with four series points.

Schepers’ goal in the second period, a point blank score off a cross from senior forward Madison Field, looked like it would yield a win for the Buckeyes, as it put them up 2-0 with less than a period and a half remaining.

Wisconsin, needing three points in the standings to beat out Minnesota for the regular season WCHA title, finally scored on two of its 42 shots in the final five minutes of the game to send it to overtime.

The first came on Shirley’s WCHA second-best 19th goal of the season, followed by a score from redshirt senior forward Emily Clark with less than two minutes remaining.

Clark’s goal snuck in off Braendli’s skate after an initial save, which saw a gesture of disbelief from the Swiss netminder with her arm thrown in the air.

Braendli made 40 saves on Saturday, giving her 92 on the series.

Wisconsin redshirt junior goalie Kristen Campbell faced just 20 shots in a second straight night of the Badgers generating more than twice the shots of Ohio State.

After scoring the winning goal in the shootout Friday night, Maltais picked up right where she left off for the Buckeyes with a goal 23 seconds into Saturday’s game that shell-shocked the home crowd in Madison, Wisconsin before the eventual comeback.

Wisconsin risked an empty net in overtime to no avail, and with the lack of a score went its’ chance at a conference title.

Both teams begin WCHA Tournament play next weekend, as Ohio State takes on Minnesota State in Columbus as the No. 3 seed in the conference, and the Badgers open with a home matchup against St. Cloud State.

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