Sophomore forward Emma Maltais said Ohio State women’s hockey needed to take care of business early in order to sweep Minnesota State on Saturday.
Senior forward Charly Dahlquist got the message, as she notched a power play deflection goal just two minutes into the first period to give the Buckeyes a lead that they did not let slip.
No. 10 Ohio State (20-12-2, 12-10-2 WCHA) ousted Minnesota State (9-19-7, 3-16-5 WCHA) from the first round of the conference tournament for the second straight season with a 3-0 win and series sweep Saturday at the Ohio State Ice Rink.
“We needed that power play goal to give that confidence and then set the tone for the rest of the game,” Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said.
Dahlquist’s quick strike, courtesy of assists from redshirt junior defenseman Jincy Dunne and senior forward Jacyn Reeves, was her 13th goal of the season, extending her career high in both goals and points.
A tripping call on Mavericks’ freshman forward Brooke Bryant sprung the power play opportunity for the Buckeyes. Despite two goals in Friday’s game, Bryant ended with two penalties Saturday and couldn’t find the net on her team-leading seven shots.
Minnesota State increased its shot output from 21 on Friday to 28, but were still dominated in shots for the sixth straight time against the Buckeyes, who had 38.
Ohio State freshman goalie Andrea Braendli, February’s WCHA Goalie of the Month, stopped all 28 shots in her sixth shutout of the year and third against the Mavericks.
Muzerall said the more shots her starting goalie faces, the more comfortable she becomes in front of the net.
“That’s how she plays at her best,” Muzerall said. “If she’s not [seeing] a lot of shots, like any goalie, you’re cold and unprepared.”
Minnesota State freshman goalie Abigail Levy, who beat out Braendli for conference All-Rookie Team selection, put up another strong performance against the Buckeyes with 38 saves to give her 77 for the series.
The Buckeyes were unable to score another goal on Levy until 16 minutes into the third period when Reeves tallied her second point of the game to put the Buckeyes up two.
A tripping penalty on Ohio State junior defenseman Elise Riemenschneider with under three minutes remaining gave the Mavericks their last gasp, as they took an empty net for a six on four opportunity.
However, the Buckeyes managed to get a penalty kill, which Braendli was unfazed by.
“I love that pressure, I love that energy,” Braendli said. “Of course it’s never easy to play in situations like that because anything can happen.”
Dunne, an All-WCHA First Team selection, capped it off for the Buckeyes with an empty net goal from the opposite end to make it 3-0 with 38 seconds remaining. Her two points on the night give her 27 for the year, the most for defensemen in the conference.
Though Minnesota State finished above last place in the conference for the first time since 2012-13, their season comes to a close with a 10th consecutive WCHA tournament quarterfinals series loss.
With a series sweep, Ohio State advances to face No. 2 Wisconsin in Minneapolis next Saturday for the WCHA semifinals. The Badgers have dropped seven of 12 points to the Buckeyes in four meetings this season.
Muzerall said her team has not made it this far by accident.
“We just have to make sure we understand that we’re a good team too and go in with confidence and not go in like it’s a privilege to be there,” Muzerall said. “We’ve earned our spot to be there.”