Quinnipiac senior goaltender Abbie Ives threw up a brick wall Friday, stopping 39 of Ohio State’s shots at a .951-percent clip.
However, the two that snuck past her were enough to edge No. 5 Ohio State (14-6-4) past the Bobcats (13-7-3) 2-1 in Columbus.
“It was a gritty win and they play very similarly to us,” Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said. “We knew they were going to keep coming. They have size, and they have speed. They’re a good team. It’s very hard to beat East Coast teams, and [tonight] they need rest.”
Ohio State sophomore forward Gabby Rosenthal drove through the defense to score the final goal of the game — her fifth in six games — to extend the Buckeye lead to 2-0 into the second period.
It was the eventual game winner.
“Gabby really has been producing and using her strength outside the net. We challenged the second and third line, and they really made the difference for us,” Muzerall said. “She puts in the time and effort. Our team’s integrity was great tonight and I’m very proud of them.”
The shot advantage was much larger for the Buckeyes than the scoreboard reflected. Ohio State outshot Quinnipiac 41-13, with at least a six-shot edge each period.
When the teams played a season ago, two close games ended with Buckeye victories. The result was no different Friday, but Quinnipiac has improved, having already surpassed its win total from this past year.
“It’s not as easy watching film or a game as a team in our league because we face them more often — makes a change for us,” Ohio State junior forward Tatum Skaggs said.
In the first period, the Buckeyes put up 14 shots, but it wasn’t until the ninth minute that sophomore forward Sara Saekkinen broke the ice.
Saekkinen scored on assists from junior defenseman Lisa Bruno and senior forward Rebecca Freiburger. It was the fifth score of her career.
The Buckeyes doubled the Quinnipiac shot output in the first period, and Ohio State sophomore goaltender Andrea Braendli stopped all seven Bobcat attempts.
Still, Muzerall said she wasn’t completely satisfied with her team’s performance.
“I felt in the first period we were losing in battles along the wall. We challenged them and reminded our D to stay off the wall, and we gave up some odd-man rushes,” Muzerall said.
In the sixth minute of the second period, Freiburger caught a hooking penalty that gave the Bobcats a power-play opportunity. But the Buckeyes did not allow a single Quinnipiac shot.
Midway through the second period, sophomore forward Paetyn Levis and freshman forward Jenn Gardiner found Rosenthal to double the lead at 2-0.
“It’s huge that we’re starting to have second-level scoring, and it’s not always the same line or people,” Skaggs said. “Underclassmen showing up in these big games is huge for us. It shows that we can score when it’s not coming from the same people.”
Before the end of the second period, the Bobcats fought back with a goal from junior forward Brooke Bonsteel, cutting the lead to 2-1.
The one goal advantage paired oddly with the Buckeyes’ 31-9 shooting edge.
In the final period, both teams went scoreless, combining for just 14 shots, and the Buckeyes held on to the 2-1 lead.
The second game of the series will start at 3:07 p.m. Saturday at the Ohio State Ice Rink.
Ohio State encourages fans to participate in its annual teddy bear toss, as all donations will be forwarded to the Ronald McDonald House.