Feb. 24, 2017
Grand Forks, N.D.— Lauren Boyle’s sixth goal of the season could not have come at a better time. The sophomore defenseman scored 2:05 into overtime to lift her team over North Dakota 3-2 and put Ohio State one win away from its first trip to the WCHA Final Face-Off since the 2012-13 season.
It’s also the first postseason victory for the Buckeyes since a 3-0 win over Minnesota Duluth on March 1, 2014.
Kassidy Sauve made 31 saves on Friday afternoon; coming into the game she was 46 away from breaking Ohio State’s all-time single season saves record, so she just needs 15 on Saturday to achieve that feat. She made 12 in the first period, nine in the second, 10 in the third, and a pair in the short overtime period in what was another excellent outing for who head coach Nadine Muzerall has described as an All-American caliber goaltender. Looking at the numbers, it’s hard to argue that.
Boyle’s game-winner ended things for Ohio State, but it was Julianna Iafallo’s goal that tied things up at 1-1 in the second period and Katie Matheny’s seventh goal of the season in the third period that put OSU in a position to win in overtime
“It was a bit of a slow start, but we found our way onto the scoreboard and battled through until the end,” Boyle said. “We needed a few more shots on net but everyone started taking care of business and Juls had a great face off win and any shot is a good one. The energy was great and the feeling of a win is even better.”
As Boyle alluded to, Ohio State was outshot by a fairly wide margin- they got 14 shots on net compared to North Dakota’s 33- but at the end of the day the Buckeyes led in the only part of the box score that mattered.
“That was an awesome game to be a part of,” team captain and senior Matheny said. “We had a really tough travel day yesterday but we took care of ourselves and came out ready to play today.”
North Dakota really came out firing, tallying 12 shots in the first period compared to Ohio State’s two, and the Fighting Hawks’ offensive output paid off halfway through the period when they scored the first goal of the game.
It’s been a couple weeks since the Buckeyes mounted their first big comeback of the season, and it appears they’ve taken a liking to doing that. Iafallo’s seventh goal of the season, with assists coming from Lauren Spring and Dani Sadek, knotted things up at 1-1. The goal came 13:17 into the second period and put Ohio State right back in the thick of things. It was Matheny’s goal in the third period that gave her team its first lead of the afternoon, a 2-1 advantage that began 7:59 into the third period.
A non-scoring turning point in the game came in the final minutes of the second period. One of North Dakota’s offensive leaders Amy Menke was given a five minute major and a game misconduct penalty, disqualifying her from the rest of the game. Though the Buckeyes did not convert on the ensuing power play, it’s hard to argue that the Fighting Hawks didn’t miss one of their leading scorers in such a tight game.
Despite a late goal from North Dakota’s Jordan Hampton that sent the game into overtime, there was never a moment that made it seem like the Buckeyes were out of it. Seeding, shot totals, whatever else you want to throw out there, don’t mean a thing; These Buckeyes are a win away from accomplishing something special.
“Our team motto has simply been ‘believe’,” said Matheny. “Believe in the process, believe in yourself, and most of all believe in each other. That’s exactly what we did tonight and what we have to continue to do. It was an exciting win, but now it’s time for us to prepare for another tough battle tomorrow.”
These two teams will meet again tomorrow, Saturday, at 3:07 p.m. ET. Should Ohio State win that will clinch its first trip to the WCHA Final Face-Off since the end of the 2012-13 season. Should the Fighting Hawks win there will be a winner-take-all game on Sunday at 3:07 p.m. ET.