Ohio State senior forward Paetyn Levis’ four goals propelled the Buckeyes to their first postseason victory, as No. 2 Ohio State defeated St. Cloud State 6-0 Friday at the Ohio State Ice Rink in its first Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s quarterfinals game.
Levis earned the first natural hat trick of her collegiate career in the second period and ended the game with five points. Levis said she tried not to think about the hat trick during the game to focus on getting the team a win, but sharing the moment of scoring her third goal with her linemates was special.
“I felt overwhelmed,” Levis said. “It was super exciting, super humbled.”
Head coach Nadine Muzerall said she is very proud of Levis, and she has changed a lot since her freshman year by utilizing her speed and going to the net to bury pucks.
“She’s grown with so much confidence as she’s matured in the game,” Muzerall said. “She trusts in herself and she has great linemates that set her up and make that job a little more easy.”
Ohio State sophomore goaltender Amanda Thiele earned her first-collegiate postseason shutout, ending the night with 13 saves. Thiele said she gives credit to her teammates.
“They played amazing in front of me and got the puck deep and didn’t have as many shots thanks to them,” Thiele said.
Thiele said she did not know what to expect going into her first postseason start.
“It was really exciting for me,” Thiele said. “I was a little nervous, but my teammates helped me out with that.”
Muzerall said the Buckeyes need to find a way to grind through the long season and play with more pride, as they need one more win to advance in the tournament.
“There wasn’t that fire,” Muzerall said. “I just wish we had a little bit more passion today and hunger, but I think they understand that and will make changes the next game.”
The Buckeyes ( 26-6-0, 22-5-0 ) began the game with a bang, as Ohio State sophomore forward Jenna Buglioni put the Buckeyes on the board less than three minutes into the game.
The momentum in the first period continued as Ohio State graduate forward Clair DeGeorge set up Levis to notch the Buckeyes’ second goal.
Levis was not finished. She took advantage of a power play and shot another puck past St. Cloud State graduate goaltender Emma Polusny, giving the Buckeyes a 3-0 lead at the end of the first period.
Levis found the back of the net one more time in the third period, tallying her fourth goal of the game. Levis’ line continued to dominate as she assisted Ohio State graduate forward and captain Liz Schepers’ goal, giving the Buckeyes their 6-0 win.
The Buckeyes outshot the Huskies ( 9-22-3, 4-21-3 ) 60-13.
If St. Cloud State wins Saturday’s matchup, the two teams will also play Sunday at 3 p.m. at the OSU Ice Rink. If Ohio State wins Saturday, the Buckeyes will punch their ticket to the WCHA’s semifinals in Minneapolis and the curtain will close on St. Cloud State’s season.
Muzerall said the Buckeyes need to focus on Saturday’s game by grinding out shift by shift.
“You are trying to end somebody’s season and for some their career, so that is not easy,” Muzerall said.
Levis said the team needs to come out stronger and play a full 60-minute game because it can be anybody’s game during the playoffs.
“It’s going to be harder tomorrow,” Levis said. “They are going to come out and learn from their game from tonight and make a push for it tomorrow. They are going to fight for everything they have.”
Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children and seniors. Students can attend the game for free by showing their BuckID.
The Buckeyes and Huskies will hit the ice again Saturday at 3 p.m. at the OSU Ice Rink. The series can be streamed on Big Ten Network Plus.