For the second year in a row, the Buckeyes clinched a Frozen Four berth by winning a quarterfinal game over Quinnipiac at OSU Rink, where they hosted the Bobcats on Saturday as the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, just like Ohio State was last year when it won the national championship.
While the Buckeyes needed two overtimes to beat Quinnipiac in 2022, victory came more decisively this year as Ohio State beat the Bobcats 5-2 in front of a sold-out crowd in Columbus.
Just like in their quarterfinal game in 2022, Quinnipiac scored the first goal of the game. That goal came with just 1:02 left in the first period when Kendall Cooper scored a power-play goal following a tripping penalty against Ohio State’s Lauren Bernard.
Ohio State goaltender Amanda Thiele made 11 first-period saves, but Quinnipiac’s Logan Angers stopped all 10 of Ohio State’s first-period shots, including a pair of breakaway shots from ‘Emma Maltais and Paetyn Levis who seemed like prime opportunities for the Buckeyes to get on the board.
Quinnipiac threatened to extend his lead just over halfway through the second period on a Sadie Peart breakaway, but Ohio State star defenseman Sophie Jaques grabbed Peart from behind to push Peart’s puck forward. she can’t get a shot. Less than two minutes later, Ohio State tied the game as Gabby Rosenthal scored the Buckeyes’ first goal of the game on the power play following a high-sticking penalty against Quinnipiac’s Madison Chantler.
Less than four minutes later, Ohio State took its first lead of the game when Bernard fired a shot into the top left corner of the net to put the Buckeyes up 2-1 with four minutes left in the second period.
Ohio State dominated the action throughout the second period, outscoring Quinnipiac 24-3 midway through 20 minutes.
Ohio State coach Nadine Muzerall was proud of how her team fought back in the second period after falling into an early deficit.
“There was a bit of nervousness in the first half and we need to step away from that and feel confident straight away because we may not be able to come back next time,” Muzerall said. “So we have to be a bit more proud of our (defensive) zone, but otherwise I was very impressed with how they rallied in the last two periods. I mean, especially that second half, beating a very good opponent 24-3 in the domestic quarter-finals, I think says a lot about our team.
Emma Peschel added to the Buckeyes lead just over eight minutes into the third period when she beat Angers into the left side of the net to give Ohio State a two-goal lead with less than 12 minutes left. to play. Maltais and Levis were both credited with assists on goal.
Jaques cemented Ohio State’s victory with 5:15 remaining when award finalist Patty Kazmaier scored her ninth power-play goal of the year on assists from Makenna Webster and Jennifer Gardiner following a penalty against Kate Reilly of Quinnipiac.
Quinnipiac’s Maddy Samoskevich added a second goal for the Bobcats with 3:36 remaining after Quinnipiac pulled his goalie out, but the Buckeyes would extend their advantage to three goals with 28.8 seconds left when Jaques fired in a empty net for her 24th goal of the season, which made her the all-time leading scorer among defenders in WCHA history – prompting Muzerall to say after the match that she thinks Jaques should win the Patty Kazmaier Award, the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy in women’s college hockey.
“She had years of consistent dominance,” Muzerall said. “Over 100 points in two years, I mean, that’s unheard of.”
The top-seeded Buckeyes improved to 32-5-2 this season with Saturday’s victory. Ohio State now travels to Duluth, Minnesota, where the Buckeyes will face No. 5 seed Northeastern in the Frozen Four Semifinals at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Wisconsin and Minnesota will meet in the other semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday. Both Frozen Four semi-finals will air on ESPN+.
Although she says the Buckeyes are focused on winning one game at a time rather than repeating themselves, Muzerall is confident in her team’s chances of winning the national championship for the second year in a row.
“Like I told them, I wouldn’t want to fight anyone else,” Muzerall said. “Because I honestly believe that if we had this team against the last team, this team would beat them. I really do. I think we have more offensive power. I think our defense is more experienced and talented.
After facing Ohio State in the NCAA Quarterfinals for the second straight year, Quinnipiac coach Cassie Turner won’t be surprised if the Buckeyes make another national championship run.
“They are relentless. Their puck pressure is exceptional and they just have a great shooting mentality. They’re not afraid of getting shots blocked, and they block and they’ll shoot again. And they crash the net really, really hard. So, you know, I’m sure they probably have a pretty good run here in the Frozen Four.