COLUMBUS, Ohio - The only women's hockey series in the nation featuring two Top 5 teams played out like the two heavyweights this year that are the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes and the No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers. Minnesota broke a 4-4 tie midway through the third period with a pair of goals and went on to take the first game of the series Friday night at the OSU Ice Rink by the score of 7-4.
The win snapped Minnesota's two-game losing streak and improved its record to 9-3. Ohio State had its three-game win streak broken. The Buckeyes are now 8-5 on the year.
"We expected it to be a back and forth game, which it was," said head coach Nadine Muzerall. "Offensively we did a lot of great things. We needed to bear down defensively. Four of the five goals, minus the empty netter, were things we could have easily prevented if we took care of our blue line better both offensively and defensively."
Senior Emma Maltais played a part in all four of Ohio State's goals, including three assists to give her 100 for her career, just the second Buckeye to reach that plateau (Laura McIntosh; 2009-12). Liz Schepers had a goal and an assist. Maltais, Schepers and Tatum Skaggs had seven shots apiece and combined for 21 of Ohio State's 33 shots.
The game featured nine different ties or lead changes and 11 different goal scorers. The two teams are back at it Saturday at 3:07 p.m. at the OSU Ice Rink.
It was a fun, fast and physical first period that saw four ties or lead changes and that ended with the score tied at two-all. Abbey Murphy scored for Minnesota just over five minutes in but Liz Schepers countered for the Buckeyes five minutes later. Each score was the fourth goal of the year for the two.
Jennifer Gardner then put the Buckeyes up, 2-1, with a power play goal at 14:06 of the period with Maltais getting her second assist of the game. Grace Zumwinkle knotted the score at 17:33 with her ninth goal of the season.
Ohio State started the period with the man advantage, but just over three minutes in the Golden Gophers had a 5-on-3 advantage and quickly scored - Emily Oden unassisted - for a 3-2 lead. The goal was the first goal allowed by the Buckeyes this season at a man disadvantage after 25 successful kills.
Emma Maltais tied the score for the Buckeyes with 5:02 to play in the period, but just 13 seconds later Abigail Boreen smacked home a rebound for a 4-3 Golden Gopher lead heading into the third period.
This game was close on the ice and on paper. After two periods, Minnesota had 25 shots, 20 faceoff wins and was 1-3 on power plays while Ohio State had fired 24 shots, won 22 faceoffs and was 1-4 on power plays.
Back came the Buckeyes. Just 2:08 in Jenna Buglioni scored her seventh goal of the season with Maltais and Schepers assisting. The Buckeyes kept the pressure on and kept play in the Golden Gopher end, but then Taylor Heise scored - the ninth different skater to score in the game - to put Minnesota back on top, 5-4, with just under 10 minutes to play. A goal by Crystalyn Hengler at 16:44 made it 6-4 and then Catie Skaja's empty netter closed the scoring.
Ohio State outshot Minnesota, 33-31, and led in faceoffs won, 33-30. Both teams had a power play goal with Minnesota taking five penalties for 10 minutes and Ohio State four for eight.