Feb. 11, 2017
Columbus, Ohio— Ohio State (12-15-5, 6-15-5-2 WCHA) played its final home game of the season on Saturday, defeating Minnesota State (6-23-4, 3-20-3-1 WCHA) 4-2 at OSU Ice Rink.
“How poetic is that?” head coach Nadine Muzerall said about Saturday’s game. “You couldn’t have designed that any better for our seniors. The mission in the third period was to let them play every other shift and to get them out there at the end of the game together.”
Grant and Matheny scored the third and fourth goals of the game, respectively. Grant blasted a one-timer for her second goal of the season and Matheny used some fancy stickwork on a breakaway to bury her sixth goal of the season on a play that was foretold by one of her teammates.
“Right before I got on the ice for that shift Maddy Field said ‘Katie you’re going to score five-hole’,” Matheny said, “and I just said no, she was going to score. When I got out there and did score five-hole all I could do was laugh.”
The Buckeyes had plenty of reasons to be all smiles today. Not only was it a special day off the ice, they jumped out to a 4-0 lead in a very important game to close out their home schedule.
“I think everybody played well,” Muzerall said of her team’s performance. “It wasn’t just one line, there was a lot more depth. We were executing our breakouts better and moving the puck north. Last night there were a lot of times we were trying to over-handle it and congesting the middle of the ice in the neutral zone. Today we were moving the puck more around the perimeter.”
Julianna Iafallo got things started with her fifth goal of the season 10:28 into the second period. A shot from Matheny left Iafallo with a juicy rebound that she had no problem putting behind the Mavericks’ goaltender. Field was also credited with an assist on the play.
The second goal of the game came off the stick of Jessica Dunne. This time it was Iafallo who set up one of her teammates, firing a pass across the ice that Dunne blasted in for her fourth goal of the season. After tallying 41 shots on Friday that yielded just one goal, it was nice to see more of those shots finding the back of the net on Saturday.
“We talk about shot selection and shot variation,” Muzerall said, “and the girls did a great job of executing that and making their goalie move laterally and making her work.”
“After a Friday night game where things don’t go our way it’s all about the attitude and what we bring into the dressing room,” Grant said about the feeling around the team on Saturday. “I noticed the girls were excited and they seemed to have forgotten about the night before.”
Four Buckeyes registered multi-point efforts on Saturday: Matheny and Iafallo both had a goal and an assist, while Field and Dani Sadek both dished out two assists. Lauren Boyle and Lauren Spring also had assists today; Boyle earned a helper on Grant’s goal and Spring did the same on Matheny’s goal, winning the faceoff that sprung the scoring play.
Matheny led all skaters with eight shots on goal, a new career high for her. Jessica Dunne recorded six shots on net, while Field and Spring each had four. Matheny also led the team in blocked shots with three.
Each team had at least one penalty in each period today. The Buckeyes were whistled for six and the Mavericks for three, but neither team was able to capitalize on the power play.
After Ohio State had taken a 4-0 lead, Minnesota State did score twice in the third period. Goaltender Kassidy Sauve stopped the other 24 shots that came her way on Saturday and is now just 104 away from setting the Ohio State single-season record for saves.
“For Bree and I that was one of the most special days we’ve been a part of,” Matheny said. “Each and every one of those girls made us feel so special and it was so fun to be a part of. I couldn’t have asked for anything more for senior day.”
Grant agreed with her fellow team captain and senior: “The girls put so much effort into making this day special for us. We just have such good friendships in the dressing room that it very important to us that we came out and won today.”
It was an all-around fantastic day for the Buckeyes; being able to get a much-needed win and have both seniors score was about all anyone could ask for.
“I wish I had gotten to coach them longer because they’re both fantastic individuals and great hockey players, but most importantly great young women,” Muzerall said of Grant and Matheny.
If it wasn’t already apparent, both Grant and Matheny enjoyed their final game at OSU Ice Rink.
“It’s definitely a day that I’ll never forget,” Grant said. “Time goes by so quickly and you never want to take games and practices for granted. This will be a very special memory for me that I’ll think about all the time.”
“To be honest it’s hard to be sad because I had so much fun sharing today with the girls,” said Matheny. “To see them go out there and put everything on the line for Bree and I was awesome.”
With regards to matters on the ice: Ohio State closes out its regular season next weekend at North Dakota, with playoff seeding still very much undecided.
“The team’s not down and out, where other teams might bury their head,” Muzerall said of her team’s mindset heading into the final weekend of the regular season. “They knew the importance of today.”