COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 2019-20 Ohio State women’s ice hockey season began following two of the best seasons in Buckeye history, as the Scarlet and Gray posted back-to-back 20 win seasons and made its first ever Frozen Four appearance in 2018. Under the direction of head coach Nadine Muzerall, Ohio State has compiled a record of 58-42-11 going into her fourth season.
The 2019-20 season campaign got underway on September 27 as Columbus welcomed to the ice six newcomers and 16 returners. The much anticipated arrival of the freshman class was worth the wait as the five skaters combined for 39 points (17g-22a) in their debut season. In the non-conference season opener against St. Lawrence, Ohio State outscored the Saints 7-3 on the weekend with 11 different Buckeyes tallying points, including first career points from freshmen Teghan Inglis and Brooke Bink.
Up next, the Buckeyes traveled to St. Cloud, Minnesota for its first of six trips to the North Star State that the team would take in the 2019-20 campaign. Ohio State swept St. Cloud in the conference opener to start the year with a 4-0 record, the longest winning streak to open a season since 2012-13. In game one against the Huskies, junior forward Emma Maltais scored her first career hat trick and matched a program and NCAA-high four goals in one game.
Ohio State hit a tough stretch in the schedule as they fell to No. 1 Wisconsin on home ice and then took on a resilient Minnesota State team in Mankato which resulted in two ties. In game two against Minnesota State, senior defender Jincy Dunne scored back-to-back goals to force overtime, the first time in her career that Dunne posted a multi-goal game.
The Buckeyes got back on track and took down No. 2 Minnesota at home during Alumni Weekend. Junior forward Liz Schepers scored a pair of goals, including the game-winning-goal midway through the third period to clinch the victory in game one.
Ohio State posted a 5-1-2 record in November as the Buckeyes swept Bemidji State, where Schepers scored an overtime game-winning goal and Maltais tallied her 100th career point. Junior goaltender Lynsey Wallace also recorded her first career win in the 3-1 victory in game two. The following weekend freshman forward Jenn Gardiner scored the lone shootout goal while sophomore goaltender Andrea Braendli went 3-3 between the pipes against Minnesota Duluth to give the Scarlet and Gray the extra league point over the Bulldogs.
— Ohio State Women’s Hockey (@OhioStateWHKY) November 16, 2019
The Buckeyes then opened their mid-season, non-conference swing with a road trip to Hamilton, N.Y. where they faced off against the Colgate Raiders and came away with a win and a draw thanks to a late goal by Maltais to force overtime. In the 6-2 win in game one, Schepers, Maltais and senior forward Rebecca Freiburger all scored a pair of goals.
In the last weekend of November, No. 6 Ohio State upset No. 3 Cornell and gave the Big Red their only regular season loss in the 2019-20 season. Cornell struck first but Maltais scored two second period goals while sophomore defender Madison Bizal added a third to seal the victory.
Next stop, Vegas! The Buckeyes took the show on the road Dec. 14-15 to play No. 7 Princeton in the city of lights. In the 5-2 win over the Tigers, junior forward Tatum Skaggs recorded a program-high five points with a goal and four assists while Maltais also dished out four assists of her own. The trip was one to remember as the team spent the better part of a week in Nevada over the holiday break.
The Buckeyes opened the New Year with a sweep over Minnesota State, outscoring the Mavericks 14-6 while Braendli posted her first shutout of the season with the 6-0 win in game one. Overall, nine different Buckeyes scored goals while 14 players notched assists on the weekend. Maltais scored her first shorthanded goal of the season and led the team with a weekend-high seven points (2g-5a).
Down goes No. 1!! In what coach Muzerall called “one of the best games of Buckeye hockey,” Ohio State defeated the top ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers 4-1 on January 17 in Ridder Arena. In the Top 5 matchup, sophomore forward Gabby Rosenthal scored a pair of goals while Freiburger, a fellow Minnesota native, extended the the lead after the opening goal from Sophie Jaques.
To close out the weekend in Minnesota, the Buckeyes and Gophers took the fight outside for Hockey Day Minnesota 2020. The matchup at Parade Stadium in Minneapolis capped off the unforgettable weekend as seven Ohio State players hail from Minnesota. The Buckeyes dawned new jerseys in the freezing temperatures and Jaques put the Scarlet and Gray on the board but Minnesota finished the game with the 2-1 advantage.
— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) January 18, 2020
The Buckeye’s historic appearance in Hockey Day Minnesota was documented and shared via The People at OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
The Buckeyes returned to Columbus for a four game home stretch where they swept Quinnipiac and posted a win and a shootout victory over Bemidji State. In the shootout, Wallace made two saves and Maltais buried her shot to give Ohio State the extra league point.
Ohio State had a tough draw on the road against Minnesota Duluth before traveling to Madison to face off against No. 2 Wisconsin. In game one, the Buckeyes downed the Badgers, 3-1 with three power play goals all scored within two minutes of the second period. The two teams moved to the Kohl Center for game two where they played in front of 14,361 fans, the second largest crowd for an NCAA women’s game. In the 1-1 overtime draw, Skaggs scored the opening goal for her 100th career point while Braendli posted 38 saves for a new season-high.
— Ohio State Women’s Hockey (@OhioStateWHKY) February 15, 2020
Ohio State closed out the regular season with a home weekend against St. Cloud State and honored its four seniors, Jincy Dunne, Rebecca Freiburger, Elise Riemenschneider, and Olivia Soares in a special senior day ceremony. The Buckeyes swept the Huskies and tallied their 20th win of the season, making it three straight years with 20 or more victories. In front of the largest home crowd of the year, Riemenschneider scored her first career goal while Maltais broke the program record for the most points in a single season.
— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) February 22, 2020
To open post-season play, No. 5 Ohio State hosted Minnesota State in a best-of-three series to advance to the WCHA Final Faceoff. The Buckeyes skated past the Mavericks in two games thanks to a pair of power play goals late in game one and the lone goal by Schepers in game two. The first round win sent Ohio State to the Final Faceoff for their third straight year and the 12th time in program history.
— Ohio State Women’s Hockey (@OhioStateWHKY) February 29, 2020
Back in Ridder Arena, the stage was set for a Final Faceoff for the ages. In a thrilling semifinal, Ohio State defeated the No. 2 seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers 4-3 in overtime. The Buckeyes were down 2-0 after the opening minutes of the second period but Skaggs cut the lead while Gardiner scored the equalizer late in the middle frame. Minnesota struck again but Gardiner scored another equalizer with less than eight minutes left in regulation to force overtime. It only took four minutes and 56 seconds of overtime for the Buckeyes to punch their ticket to their second ever WCHA Final as Skaggs redirected a shot from Schepers into the back of the net.
— Ohio State Women’s Hockey (@OhioStateWHKY) March 8, 2020
On Sunday, March 8, Ohio State won its first WCHA Championship in program history. After 12 WCHA Final Faceoff appearances and just two championship appearances, the Buckeyes finally claimed the top spot in one of the toughest conferences in the country. No. 3 Ohio State and No. 1 Wisconsin battled through 60 minutes of scoreless play while Braendli turned away 41 shots to tally a new season-high. For just the fourth time in Final Faceoff history, the championship game was decided in overtime where Skaggs once again scored the game-winning goal.
BUCKEYES WIN!!!!!! WCHA CHAMPIONS!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/8yZM86Qwli
— Ohio State Women’s Hockey (@OhioStateWHKY) March 8, 2020
Notably, throughout the tournament, Jincy Dunne notched six assists and broke a single season, post-season assist record and finished her career with the most post-season points (12) and assists (11) in program history. Also, with the win between the pipes in the championship game, Andrea Braendli tallied her 20th win of the season which sets a new single-season high in program history. For the first time in program history, a Ohio State player was named the Final Faceoff Most Outstanding Player as Tatum Skaggs collected her award alongside All-Tournament team honorees, Braendli, Gardiner and Dunne.
Ohio State finished its season riding the high of the program’s first championship win and second berth into the NCAA Tournament. In 2018, the Buckeyes earned an at-large bid and played in the program’s first Frozen Four. After the championship win, Ohio State earned an automatic bid for the first time in program history where the Buckeyes were set to face Minnesota once again in the NCAA Quarterfinal. The season was ultimately cut short before the NCAA Tournament could begin but the Buckeyes were one of four teams in the nation to send out their seniors as champions. Go Bucks!