Women’s Ice Hockey: No. 1 Buckeyes sweep Minnesota State in season-opening series

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After earning their first national championship in program history, the Ohio State women’s ice hockey team returns to action at No. 1. Credit: Zachary Rilley | Photo Editor

The first puck drop of the season came at the Mayo Clinic HealthSystem Event Center in Mankato, Minnesota, as the No. 1 Buckeyes swept Minnesota State in a season-opening series.

Ohio State earned a 2-1 win Friday and sealed the sweep with a 5-4 victory Saturday.

Friday

The Mavericks set the tempo early, as senior forward Kelsey King got the scoring off to a quick start thanks to a breakaway, beating junior goaltender Amanda Thiele to go up 1-0 just 3:15 into the first period on Minnesota State’s first shot.

It didn’t take long for the Buckeyes to answer, as graduate forward Gabby Rosenthal scored Ohio State’s first goal of the season with assists from forwards senior Jennifer Gardiner and graduate Emma Maltais 9:56 in to tie the game.

The Buckeyes managed to muster out 13 shots in the remainder of first period to the Mavericks’ six, finishing the first period tied 1-1.

Thiele robbed the Mavericks of three-consecutive scoring opportunities in the second period, which led to Gardiner’s backhand go-ahead goal, beating two defensemen and sneaking the puck over junior goalkeeper Lauren Barbro’s left shoulder.

Ohio State took a 2-1 lead less than two minutes into the second. Despite scoring efforts from both sides for the remainder of the second period, and the Buckeyes outshooting the Mavericks six to nine, the netminding remained solid and a scoring lull ensued.

Despite a last-ditch effort of pulling the goalie with 1:09 left in the game, the Mavericks were unable to even the score as the game came to a close with a Buckeyes win 2-1, their first season-opening road win since the 2018-19 season.

Saturday

It only took the Buckeyes 5:22 and four shots to find the back of the net, as a Mavericks turnover in the neutral zone led to freshman forward Sofie Lundin claiming her first career goal, sneaking the puck past the shoulder of senior goalkeeper Alexa Berg.

However, a costly Buckeyes penalty just three minutes later led to a power play opportunity for the Mavericks. With plenty of traffic in front, Minnesota State senior defenseman Anna Wilgren fired a wrist shot from the point past Thiele’s glove to tie the game 1-1.

A Buckeye turnover in their own zone then led to a rebound in front of the crease, as junior forward Madison Mashuga banged it in to take a 2-1 Mavericks lead late into the first period.

Just minutes after taking their first lead of the game, the Mavericks offense was not done yet, as senior forward Claire Butorac snuck it past Thiele on the crease from a centering pass, putting the Mavericks up 3-1 to end the first period.

Senior forward Kenzie Hauswirth picked up a rebound on the crease, and the Buckeyes struck back to narrow the deficit 3-2 over nine minutes into the second period.

A Buckeye turnover just two minutes into the third led to a two-on-one opportunity for the Mavericks, with senior forward Brooke Bryant beating Thiele on the far side to help Minnesota State pull away 4-2.

With 8:23 remaining in the game, the Buckeyes narrowed the gap thanks to a low shot from graduate defenseman Madison Bizal, beating Berg’s right side and putting the score at 4-3. Bizal was not done scoring on the day, as a bouncing puck jumped Berg’s glove to tie the game 4-4 with just 4:22 remaining.

Three minutes later with just over one minute to play, Rosenthal snuck it past Berg to take a 5-4 lead, the Buckeyes’ third goal in the final period, completing the comeback to win the game and ultimately sweep the series.

Ohio State will host St. Cloud State and begin its home slate of games next weekend. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday.

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