Jan. 21, 2017
Minneapolis, Minn.— After three hard fought games this season against Minnesota, Ohio State (11-12-3, 5-12-3-1 WCHA) earned much-deserved points against the Golden Gophers (17-5-3, 13-4-3-2 WCHA) in a 1-1 tie on Saturday that ended with a 2-1 shootout victory.
“To be able to come back from a one goal deficit early in the game and fight until the very end shows how much character and heart this team has,” said Julianna Iafallo, who scored the shootout-clinching goal.
Saturday’s game marked the first time since January 11, 2014 that Ohio State earned points in a game against Minnesota, and it was the first overtime game between the two teams since January 30, 2015.
“It feels really good,” head coach Nadine Muzerall said after her team’s victory. “You don’t always get to see the hard work and dedication student-athletes have behind the scenes. These kids work as hard as anybody. I’m just very proud of them and the way they played together and how they took two points away from a very talented team.”
Offensively, Saturday was a much different story compared to Friday. In game one the Buckeyes tallied eight shots on goal, a total they eclipsed before the first period was over in game two. In fact shots were neck and neck for the first two periods of the game; both teams recorded 10 in the first period, and in the second period Ohio State had nine with Minnesota registering 10 again.
The Buckeye goal was scored by senior Katie Matheny. A slap shot from the point was too much for the Minnesota goaltender to handle, and Matheny had no problem burying the rebound for her fifth goal of the season. Maddy Field added an assist on the play, her sixth straight game with a point and her team-leading 11th helper of the season.
“Absolutely,” Muzerall said when asked if she gameplanned for an uptick in offense. “We said no shot’s a bad shot. Just get it inside the blue line and fire it, then crash the net because rebounds will be there. That was one of our goals this game, to create more offense.”
Ohio State scored first in the previous three meetings this season, but it was the Golden Gophers who did so today. About halfway through the second period they went ahead 1-0 and held that lead until Matheny’s goal that came with Field’s help.
“She plays big, she plays aggressive,” Muzerall said of Field, the team’s leading scorer. “She’s very effective on our style of forecheck, she creates turnovers because of her speed as well. She has good vision on the ice and her line mates complement her as well.”
After 60 minutes of hockey the teams played a scoreless five minute overtime period. The ensuing shootout went seven rounds and ended when Iafallo found the back of the net, sending the Buckeyes onto the ice to celebrate.
“That was amazing,” Iafallo said of the moment. “That was a huge team win. Zumi [associate head coach Jess Koizumi] talked me through what to do on that one. Having the whole team come out to me afterwards, that was a dream come true.”
Next up for Ohio State is a trip to Duluth to face the No. 2-ranked UMD Bulldogs. After this weekend, though, it’s clear rankings don’t matter at all to this Ohio State team.
Said Muzerall: “I think beating a seven-time national championship-winning team should give them a little bit of confidence and make them believe in one another.”