Feb. 26, 2016
Columbus, Ohio—The regular season is in the rearview mirror for Ohio State (10-24-1, 6-22-1-1 WCHA), and it kicked off its WCHA Quarterfinal series against No. 2 Minnesota (30-3-1, 25-3-1 WCHA) with a 5-2 loss on Friday night.
The Golden Gophers now hold the 1-0 lead in the best-of-three postseason series, making these next two games must-win affairs for the Buckeyes.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the first period, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. Both teams had some excellent chances to score, but failed to convert each time on the way to a scoreless first period. Minnesota managed 14 shots to Ohio State’s nine, and a big reason why none of the Gophers’ shots ended in a goal was because of Alex LaMere’s expert goaltending. The sophomore made several difficult saves and thwarted a lot of really good Minnesota scoring opportunities.
At the 11:18 mark of the second period the game’s first goal was scored by Minnesota to take the first lead of the night. Shortly thereafter, Maddy Field found herself on a breakaway and fired a shot right through the five hole to tie the game up at 1-1. Field’s goal came at the 14:40 mark and was unassisted, giving the freshman 10 goals this year. She’s one of just 15 rookies in the NCAA to reach double-digit goals this season.
Minnesota would add another goal with less than two minutes left in the period to take a 2-1 lead into the third. The game’s third goal came after a loose puck was smacked by Amanda Kessel and dented the net, putting the Buckeyes back down by a score. Looking at the shot totals, the second frame was undoubtedly in Minnesota’s favor. It outshot Ohio State 19-4 and also fired off three shots on the game’s only power play. That being said, LaMere still played exceptionally well, making several impressive stops and swatting away a few breakaway attempts, doing her best to help the cause.
Early on in the third period Claudia Kepler scored her team-leading 14th goal to tie the game again at 2-2. Julia McKinnon added the lone assist, her 13th, and it appeared that Ohio State was going to hang around with the nation’s No. 2-ranked team. Unfortunately, Minnesota would rattle off three unanswered goals, capped by an empty netter with six seconds left that put the lid on a 5-2 loss for the Scarlet and Gray.
Game two of this series is slated to start tomorrow, Saturday, at 5:07 ET. Like tonight’s game, it will also be streamed on btn2go.com (subscription required).