MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The No. 5 Ohio State women’s ice hockey team is headed to the WCHA Championship game for the first time since 2001 after defeating No. 3 Minnesota, 4-3 in overtime. Freshman Jenn Gardiner scored two goals while Tatum Skaggs scored her second of the night in sudden-victory overtime to send the Buckeyes past the Gophers after trailing 2-0. The Scarlet and Gray has 12 Final Faceoff appearances but this will be the second time in 20 season that Ohio State is playing in the championship game.
“It’s hard enough to play the No. 3 team in the country in their rink, and to be down 2-0 when we were on our heels the first period, but we just challenged the girls,” said head coach Nadine Muzerall. “It’s about character and grit and being unified, and they found a way. It was all heart and I’m just so proud of them.”
Ohio State 4, Minnesota 3
Minnesota won the battle in the first frame, outshooting Ohio State 17-3. In the fifth minute, Amy Potomak opened scoring with a shot over Andrea Braendli’s shoulder. Braendli posted 16 saves in the period which is a first-period high for the season.
Each team put up two goals in the middle frame with Minnesota holding the 3-2 lead after two periods. The Gophers struck first as Potomak scored her second goal of the game in the fourth minute. Ohio State was quick to respond as Tatum Skaggs put the Buckeyes on the board just 1:22 later. She put away a low-angle shot with assists from Emma Maltais and Jincy Dunne. The Buckeyes found the offensive spark they needed as freshman Jenn Gardiner scored the equalizer with just over three minutes left in the period. In a quick series of penalties, the Buckeyes went on the 5-on-3 penalty kill with Skaggs and Gabby Rosenthal serving minor penalties. With the two man advantage, the Gophers scored the go-ahead goal.
“We just renewed our mindset after being down 2-0,” said Tatum Skaggs. “We just said let’s go out there and take it to them and do what we’ve been practicing these past six months. We know that when we stick together, things happen. I think that someone needed to ignite that fire, and our entire team did it together.”
The score held at 3-2 until Gardiner scored her second goal of the game and her second equalizer with less than eight to play in regulation. Her backhand shot got through the pads of Sydney Scobee and fell just beyond the goal line. The Buckeye penalty kill unit was called on to close out the final period and regulation came to a close with a 3-all score. At the end of regulation, Braendli tallied 38 saves to tie her game-high on the season while the Gophers outshot the Buckeyes 41-24.
It only took four shots and five minutes for the Buckeyes to seal the deal in overtime. At the 4:56 mark, Liz Schepers fired off a shot and Skaggs redirected the puck in front of the crease to push it past Scobee. The Gophers finished the game with a 41-28 shot advantage over the Buckeyes.