Twenty four hours after being shut out in the series opener, the Ohio State women’s hockey team fell behind the Gophers in the first three minutes of Sunday’s WCHA game at Ridder Arena.
The No. 5-ranked Buckeyes quickly rallied with two goals in the next seven minutes and then held off the No. 4 Gophers in the third period for a 2-1 victory.
“Our girls always rise to the occasion playing the Gophers,” Buckeyes coach Nadine Muzerall said. “I thought everyone was firing on all cylinders and doing all the little things right. “
The Gophers, who defeated the Buckeyes 4-0 on Saturday despite being outshot 36-18, took a 1-0 lead at 3:01 of the first period on a goal by Grace Zumwinkle. Zumwinkle scored two goals on Saturday — the first one 28 seconds into the game.
The Buckeyes countered Zumwinkle’s goal Sunday with the equalizer 21 seconds later from Mound Westonka product Liz Schepers and a goal from Tatum Skaggs at 9:19.
“I thought we played very well defensively and offensively; we scored right away after the Gophers had put one in,” said Muzerall, the fifth-leading scorer in Gophers women’s hockey history. “I thought that showed a lot of their character. Not only to get the lead but to hold it, that was a good illustration of who these Buckeyes are.”
The Gophers outshot the Buckeyes 14-8 in the third period. Buckeyes goalie Andrea Braendli made three saves in the final minute of play as the Gophers finished the game on the power play. Braendli finished with 25 saves.
“It was an exciting hockey game, I think,” Gophers coach Brad Frost said. “Obviously we were hoping for a better result, but I’m proud of how we came back in the second and the third in particular and really started to get up on our toes and play the way that we needed to play. The first period, we got out to that early lead, and they answered the very next shift and really from that point on, they took it to us.”
The Gophers, who were outshot 18-5 in the first period, outshot the Buckeyes 21-17 over the final 40 minutes.
“As the game went on, we got better and better and started applying that same pressure to them, but we just couldn’t find a way to put one home there at the end,” Frost said. “There were a lot of great chances, in particular in the last five minutes, but it just didn’t happen [Sunday]. We’ll learn from it and try to be better here going forward.”
Gophers goalie Lauren Bench, who had 36 saves in her Gophers debut in the series opener, had 33 saves. Zumwinkle’s three-goal weekend gave her 127 points (70 goals-57 assists) in 115 career games.
“It was a good learning experience for us. We have a lot of freshmen in our lineup,” Frost said. “They got thrown into the fire against a real good team. We just need to continue to play strong defense and play a complete game.”
The Gophers will travel to Minnesota Duluth for a two-game series Friday and Saturday. The Gophers and Buckeyes will meet again Dec. 11-12 in Columbus, Ohio.