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Rookie goalie Lisa Steffes turns away 31 shots as Buckeyes snap four-game winless streak

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s hockey team had great performances on both ends of the ice Friday in a 4-2 upset of third-ranked Minnesota Duluth at the DECC in Duluth, Minn. After missing the last two series, junior forward Natalie Spooner returned to the Buckeyes from the gold medal-winning Canadian National Team at Four Nations Cup and picked up right where she left off with her third-consecutive two-goal game.

Rookie goaltender Lisa Steffes (7-5-1) turned in another solid outing with 31 saves, including all 13 shots faced in the third period, against the defending NCAA champs.

The victory snaps a four-game winless streak for the Buckeyes as they improve to 7-5-1 overall and 3-5-1-1 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Minnesota Duluth is 8-3-0 and 6-3-0 in the conference.

The teams exchanged goals in the opening period for a 1-1 tie at the first intermission. Minnesota Duluth scored just 13 seconds after the puck dropped on a goal by Jocelyn Larocque with assists from Brienna Gillanders and Elin Holmlov. Spooner then scored her first goal at 9:43, set up by sophomore Tina Hollowell and junior defenseman Kelly Wild even things up.

Gillanders then tallied a goal of her own 3:15 into the second period, but once again Spooner responded by scoring on a breakaway off a long pass by Steffes just over a minute later to once again tie the game.

Ohio State took its first lead at 18:26 for a 3-2 score at the second intermission. Junior Laura McIntosh set up sophomore Paige Semenza for her second goal of the season. The assist was McIntosh’s 20th of the year, while sophomore Hokey Langan picked up the second helper – her 13th overall.

After skating through most of the third period with the one-goal lead, the Buckeyes took advantage of a late power play to seal the win. UMD pulled goal Jennifer Harss for an extra skater, but Langan fired the puck into the empty net with 1:14 left in the game for the 4-2 final. Minttu Tuominen picked up the assist on the goal.

Overall, Ohio State continued its strong penalty kill with its fifth-consecutive perfect at with a 5-of-5 mark. The Buckeyes were 1-of-7 on the power play.

UMD had a 33-27 lead in shots and Bulldogs goalie Harss registered her first loss of the season in net (3-1-0) with 23 saves.

The Buckeyes and Bulldogs conclude their series with a 7 p.m. (CT) game Saturday at the DECC.

Game Notes:

  • Ohio State has won back-to-back games against Minnesota Duluth for the first time in 50 meetings. The Buckeyes handed UMD its last loss of the 2009-10 season before they won the NCAA championship.
  • Four of Ohio State’s five wins against the Bulldogs have been in Duluth.
  • The Buckeye penalty kill has been perfect in its last 21 opportunities.
  • Natalie Spooner extended her point streak to 13 games and her goal streak to 10 games. She also has had a point in 21-consecutive series dating back to the second series of last year. Her 13-game point streak is tied for the third-longest in Buckeye history.
  • The game was Spooner’s fifth two-goal performance this season. She leads the Buckeyes with 14 goals in nine games.
  • Hokey Langan has three-consecutive two-point games with five goals in that span.
  • Laura McIntosh, who had a 14-game point streak earlier this season, is on a seven game point streak.
  • Also returning to the Buckeyes after missing the last three games with their national teams were sophomore forward Minttu Tuominen (Finland) and freshman defenseman Annie Svedin (Sweden).
  • Lisa Steffes has made 30-plus saves in three of the last four games. She has six games with 30-plus saves in just 13 games this season.
  • Steffes also picked up her third assist of the year on Spooner’s second goal.