Clair DeGeorge never quite seemed to get the credit she deserved in her four years at Bemidji State. Close observers certainly recognized her outstanding talent, but she never had the supporting cast around her for the Beavers to consistently compete against the top teams in the nation. But after transferring to one of the top programs in the country in Ohio State last summer, she’ll have the opportunity to showcase her abilities on the national stage.
So far, it appears as though DeGeorge will adjust to her new life as an Ohio State Buckeye quite well. She scored two goals and set up a game-clinching empty-net goal to lead Ohio State to a 4-2 victory over Minnesota at Ridder Arena on Friday evening.
The early stages of the game belong entirely to Minnesota. Minnesota, hungry to prove they still belong among the elite of the WCHA after going 2-4 against the Buckeyes last year and missing out on the NCAA Tournament, controlled the early stages of the game. The Gophers took the game’s first seven shots on goal, the last of which was the first career goal for freshman Peyton Hemp, who buried a nice feed from Taylor Heise to put Minnesota ahead early.
But penalties by the Gophers later in the first period shifted the momentum and allowed the Buckeyes back into the game. Gracie Ostertag head to the box less than a minute after Hemp’s goal, the first of four consecutive penalties called on Minnesota in the first period. On the third of those penalties, DeGeorge found the back of the net for the first time, working a perfect give-and-go with Jennifer Gardiner on a 2-on-1 rush to equal the score.
The Buckeyes would take the lead in the second period when Jenna Buglioni drove hard to the net on a rush and beat Minnesota goalie Lauren Bench high to the short side. DeGeorge would strike again later in the period when she finished off some heavy Ohio State pressure with a backhand shot into the upper corner of the net.
Minnesota would press late in the third period and get an extra-attacker goal on a beautiful snipe by Taylor Heise to make it a one-goal game late. But with just over a minute to play, DeGeorge won a battle for a loose puck off a face-off in the Ohio State end and set teammate Paetyn Levis up for an empty-net goal to seal the victory.
It was a key road victory for an Ohio State that is looking to be a contender for the national championship this season. For Minnesota, there were certainly positives to take from this game, especially in the early going. But miscues on the defensive end, and Ohio State’s ability to grind out close hockey games that plagued the Gophers last season still look to be issues.
The two teams will conclude their weekend series on Saturday afternoon.