March 6, 2021

Big Second Period Lifts Buckeyes to WCHA Title Game


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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – A fast and furious string of second-period goals – five to be exact – lifted the No. 3-ranked Ohio State women’s ice hockey team back to the WCHA Final Faceoff championship game. The Buckeyes defeated Minnesota Duluth on Saturday night, 7-2, and set up a date tomorrow against top-seeded Wisconsin for the title.

“I think we made a very strong statement tonight,” head coach Nadine Muzerall said. “We practiced for three straight weeks without a game. The only way to get better at playing the game is by having games. The girls looked very strong all through the three weeks of practice but you never knew how it would play out in a game.

“I knew the longer the game went, the stronger we would be. I’m very proud of their relentlessness and it was from everybody. All in all, it was a solid 200-foot hockey game for the Buckeyes.”

Just how impressive was the Buckeyes’ second-period barrage? It is tied for the second-most in a single period in WCHA postseason history and stands as the most in a Final Faceoff semifinal contest. It also tied Ohio State’s single-game record for goals in a period. The Buckeyes previously scored five vs. Bemidji State in October of 2012. The Buckeyes’ seven goals are the program’s most in a postseason game.

Before the momentum-swinging second period, senior Emma Maltais put Ohio State on the board 6:50 into the first period when she found the back of the net for the fourth time this season. Teghan Inglis and Liz Schepers picked up assists on the play.

Minnesota Duluth would tie the score at 1-all six minutes later, and that’s how the game stood at the first intermission. But the Buckeyes’ offense was just getting started, and by the end of the second period, they had a 6-2 lead.

The barrage began when Jennifer Gardiner got one past Emma Soderberg on a power play 2:20 into the period. Just over a minute later, Gabby Rosenthal scored with assists from freshmen Jenna Buglioni and Riley Brengman. Tatum Skaggs kept it going three minutes later and Maltais scored her second at the 7:57 mark of the period. Liz Schepers put the finishing touches on the period at the 13:19 mark.

“The power play goal was really big for us,” said Maltais. “After a while, you get that confidence that any shot you take is a good shot. We had to just keep putting shots on the cage because [Soderberg] is a good goalie. You could feel the confidence and energy grow every minute.”

The only third-period goal came off the stick of Skaggs, who scored on a power play 11:43 into the period. It completed a two-goal night for Skaggs, who currently leads the team with eight goals. Her 16 points is also tops on the team.

Maltais finished with four points (two goals, two assists), her second four-point game of the season. After being outshot 9-5 in the first period, the Buckeyes had a 27-12 edge in that category for the remainder of the game. Junior goalie Andrea Braendli made 18 saves and gave way late in the third period to senior Lynsey Wallace, who stop the one shot that she faced.

The Buckeyes and Badgers met four times during the regular season and split those two games. Tomorrow’s game will also be a rematch of last year’s Final Faceoff championship game, won by Ohio State in overtime, 1-0. It will be streamed live on FloHockey.