As the final minute ticked away Saturday, Quinnipiac senior defenseman Kati Tabin had back-to-back shot attempts to send the matchup with Ohio State women’s hockey to an extra period.
Instead, No. 5 Ohio State (16-6-4) senior forward Rebecca Freiburger deflected Tabin’s shot to edge out a 3-2 win and nonconference sweep against the Bobcats (13-9-3) at the Ohio State Ice Rink.
“Our [success] goes off of our mental strength,” Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said. “We didn’t bury our heads after they scored, and we matured a lot. That comes from our leadership, which has helped us win these tight games.”
Up 3-1 in the third period, a roughing penalty from Ohio State sophomore forward Gabby Rosenthal allowed Quinnipiac junior forward Taylor Girard to score 23 seconds into the power play to stay alive.
“At that time, it’s just a mental thing and you’ve got to buckle down — telling [them] they are not tired and bear down and block shots, do what you got to do to make sure that puck doesn’t go into the net,” Muzerall said.
But the Bobcat comeback attempt would stop there as the Buckeyes picked up their sixth win in the past seven games.
Ohio State’s seniors led the team with shot attempts and assists in the two-game series, but it was the underclassmen who took control offensively to score four of Ohio State’s goals Friday and Saturday.
It was freshman defenseman Madison Bizal who kicked things off for the Buckeyes in Game 2, skating past the Bobcat defense to beat senior goaltender Abbie Ives on assists from junior forward Emma Maltais and junior defenseman Lisa Bruno.
Ives stopped six Buckeye shots in the first two minutes of play prior to Bizal’s score.
But the first period would end in a tie, as Quinnipiac junior forward Laura Lundblad capitalized on a Buckeye turnover in the final minute to put one past sophomore goaltender Andrea Braendli. Ohio State ended the first period with nearly double the shot attempts of Quinnipiac at 15-8.
However, neither team was finished putting goals on the board.
Ohio State freshman forward Teghan Inglis broke the second-period tie with six minutes remaining, scoring just the third goal of her career to extend the Buckeye lead 2-1.
In the final period, Freiburger scored within one minute of action on assists from Bizal and sophomore forward Paetyn Levis.
The Buckeyes took a 3-1 lead, but with both Quinnipiac freshman forward Sadie Peart and Ohio State junior forward Tatum Skaggs picking up a penalty, opportunity was abound.
“When you play great hockey teams, you’re going to get some penalties,” Muzerall said. “I’m OK with taking that. We’re going to play hard, and we did a great job at being disciplined.”
Quinnipiac couldn’t score during four-on-four play, but found the net following the Rosenthal penalty midway through the period.
But Maltais and Freiburger both stepped up with blocked shots against Tabin in the game’s waning moments to secure the series sweep.
“We have to finish these last few series before playoffs strong,” Skaggs said. “We have to set a tone for whoever we play that we’re not going to take them lightly and that we’re ready to finish the season strong.”
Next weekend Ohio State hosts Bemidji State in Columbus for the second series of the season, as the Buckeyes look to defend a home win streak of four games.