A third period goal by North Dakota transfer Charly Dahlquist, her first with her new team, was enough to lift Ohio State to a 3-2 upset over fourth-ranked Minnesota at Minnesota’s Ridder Arena on Friday night.
The Buckeyes put Minnesota on their heels early with a pair of goals by junior forward Jacyn Reeves in the first four minutes of the game. Reeves had just six goals in her first 71 career games with the Buckeyes, but made no mistake burying a semi-breakaway chance at 2:06 of the first period, and burying a rebound opportunity at 3:49 of the first.
After a slow first period, Minnesota responded back with a strong second period. Alex Woken rang the post for Minnesota seconds into the second period, and the Gophers continued an onslaught of the Ohio State net throughout the middle frame. In all, the Gophers would take 19 of their game-total 28 shots on goal in the second period, and broke through with a pair of goals in the period by Sophie Skarzynski and Grace Zumwinkle to level the game heading into the third period.
In the third period, Ohio State caught a lucky break when Dahlquist’s innocent-seeming shot from the right goal line deflected off a Minnesota defender and through the pads of Minnesota goalie Alex Gulstene.
The Buckeyes were able to hang on to that lead, allowing Minnesota to take only four shots on goal in the third period, and not giving Minnesota the opportunity to pull their goalie for an extra attacker until the game’s final few seconds.
With the victory, Ohio State moves to 3-0-0 on the season, and 1-0-0 in WCHA league play. With the loss, Minnesota drops to 1-2-0 on the season, and 0-1-0 in WCHA play. The two teams will meet again at 3pm on Saturday for their series final.
Notes and Thoughts
-The big question most people seem to have after this one, now that Minnesota is 1-2-0 on the season is: What is wrong with the Gophers? I’ve seen them twice now this season, and have a couple theories, but that’s an answer long enough to deserve its’ own post next week.
But one of the big ones tonight was that it felt like Ohio State just wanted this game more. Minnesota showed what they are capable of with a really good second period, but in the first and third periods, it was Ohio State that was winning all the races to 50/50 pucks. They were the better team tonight.
-I really liked this Ohio State team on paper heading into this weekend. I put them sixth on my ballot for The Ice Garden D-1 Women’s Poll last week, giving them five points in the poll, while the other 14 voters gave them seven points combined. And they passed the eyeball test tonight. They’ve completely rebuilt their forward group from last year. I liked the top line of North Dakota transfer Charly Dahlquist centering Tatum Skaggs and Emma Maltais—Maltais especially is a real player. Harvard transfer Grace Zarzecki boosts the second line, and I thought freshman Liz Schepers was really effective on the third line. It makes for a really solid group, and one that really took it to Minnesota for big stretches in this game.
-The Buckeyes are fairly deep at forward, but that is definitely not the case on the blue line. They technically dressed six defensemen, but the pairings of Dani Sadek/Jincy Dunne and Lauren Boyle/Lisa Bruno played the entire game. Those four are really good, but playing every other shift is a lot to ask from them. It helps that media timeouts give them a few extra breaks per period.
It’s a gritty, gutty effort to come away with the win tonight, but I have no idea how they’re going to be able to come back on less than 24 hours rest for tomorrow afternoon’s game.
-I counted a total of two shifts for Ohio State fifth defenseman Elise Riemenschneider. The first came midway through the second period with the Buckeyes up 2-0, and trying to give their D a little breather. They gave up a goal on that shift. The second shift came in the third period shortly after the Buckeyes had killed off a penalty to Lisa Bruno with a mix-and-match of their three remaining D, and those D were gassed after some long shifts. That shift happened to be the same one that Charly Dahlquist scored the game-winning goal on(though Riemenschneider was headed off the ice when the puck went in and didn’t get the +/- credit). Two shifts and two game-changing goals is quite the example of a ‘high-event player’.
-There was still some question as to who the starting goalie would be for Minnesota heading into tonight. Freshman Alex Gulstene got the nod, and despite taking the loss, I thought she played a decent game, and still think she’s the best option for Minnesota going forward. I can’t put either of the first two goals on her, and in fact, wrote down in my notes that she made big saves shortly after both of Ohio State’s goals in the first period. The Buckeyes dominated the first period, and the deficit easily could have been worse than 2-0.
The game-winning goal was kind of a weird one, and probably what you’d call a soft goal, though the deflection does make it a tough stop. But again, I had her down as making two big saves on quality chances early in the third period.
I actually liked Gulstene more tonight than WCHA preseason player of the year Kassidy Sauve, who I thought struggled with rebound control at times, and made a couple situations more dangerous than they needed to be.
2:06 Jacyn Reeves from Liz Schepers and Dani Sadek 1-0 Ohio State
Reeves took a pass from Schepers with speed in the neutral zone, allowing her to split the Gopher defense and come in on a breakaway. Her wrist shot beat Gulstene to the stick side.
3:49 Jacyn Reeves from Lauren Spring 2-0 Ohio State
Off a scramble in front of the Minnesota net, Spring took a low shot that bounced off the pad of Gulstene, but Reeves was at the right side of the crease, and put the rebound into the goal.
10:59 Sophie Skarzynki from Alex Woken 2-1 Ohio State
Woken made a pass from along the left boards to the top of the crease, where Skarzynski was positioned to redirect the puck through the legs of Sauve for the goal.
14:19 Grace Zumwinkle from Lindsay Agnew and Sydney Baldwin (power play) 2-2 tie
A shot from the point by Baldwin created a mad scramble in front of the net. Agnew’s first attempt at the rebound was stopped, but the puck popped out to Zumwinkle at the left side of the crease amid the chaos, and she was able to score it.
7:22 Charly Dahlquist from Tatum Skaggs and Emma Maltais 3-2 Ohio State
Dahlquist fired a low angle shot from along the left goal line that deflected off a defenseman and snuck through the pads of Gulstene and into the goal.