The No. 1 Ohio State women’s ice hockey team was determined to continue its eight-game winning streak heading into this weekend’s home series, doing just that, defeating Minnesota State 6-2 Friday in Columbus.
Senior goaltender Quinn Kuntz upheld a strong defense in her fourth game of the season while her teammates secured the four-score win, guiding Ohio State (22-2-2, 17-2-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) to beat Minnesota State (3-13-0, 7-13-0 WCHA). The Buckeyes came away with their 27th-consecutive win against the Mavericks on home ice.
“It was a good result to get after a hard week of work,” senior forward Jennifer Gardiner said. “We’re just looking forward to tomorrow and carrying into next weekend.”
Under seven minutes into the first period, graduate forward Paetyn Levis notched the first goal of the game and her 16th of the season, assisted by senior defenseman Hadley Hartmetz.
“We played a great team game today, everyone touched the puck, and we were gelling very well, so I was excited to see that,” Levis said.
Despite not scoring for the remainder of the first frame, Ohio State put forth 12 shots on goal while only allowing three for Minnesota State.
However, the tides changed quickly into the second period when Minnesota State saw an opportunity to score after Ohio State received a penalty for tripping. Capitalizing on the power play, Mavericks junior forward Madison Mashuga saw the puck through to the back of the net to tie the game just over two minutes in.
The Buckeyes regained control five minutes later after graduate defenseman Sophie Jaques scored her 19th goal of the season and 56th of her career, pushing Ohio State ahead 2-1.
Gardiner then expanded upon the Buckeye lead at 7:06 in the second period, securing her 15th goal of the season.
Gardiner emphasized that the team worked hard following last week’s matchup against St. Cloud State, and she was proud to see the hard work come to fruition.
“We had a lot of fans there today, it was a lot of fun, a lot of energy,” Gardiner said.
A standstill ensued for the latter half of the frame after Gardiner scored, and Kuntz earned a save with two seconds left to ensure the Buckeyes maintained their 3-1 lead heading into the final period.
“She stepped up against a really good team, at a very important part of the season,” head coach Nadine Muzerall said.
The two-goal Buckeye lead was broken under one minute into the third frame when senior forward Kelsey King notched a goal for the Mavericks, her 10th of the season.
However, the Buckeyes pulled away again when Gardiner, assisted by graduate defenseman Madison Bizal and junior forward Makenna Webster, scored her second goal of the game at 4:42.
Less than two minutes later, the Buckeyes brought the score to 5-2 after Levis found the back of the net to earn her fourth multi-goal game of the season.
Muzerall said both Gardiner and Levis have shown confidence throughout the season, and their growth results in favorable conditions for the Buckeyes.
“They’re very unselfish, but they score when the puck is on their stick because they have the ability to, and I’m glad that their confidence is growing into shooting more and being rewarded,” Muzerall said.
Senior forward Brooke Bink sealed the game and earned her first goal of the season in front of her grandfather, who has been unable to attend most games, a play that both her teammates and coach described as emotional.
“She’s like our family, so it was cool for her to get that heartwarming, special moment,” Levis said. “She’s been working so hard all year, so it’s so good to see her finally get rewarded.”
The Buckeyes will face the Mavericks again on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the OSU Ice Rink in Columbus.
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