No. 2 Minnesota splits weekend series against No. 8 Ohio State

The Gophers rebounded Saturday after suffering their first loss of the season against the Buckeyes.

Forward Grace Zumwinkle looks to pass the puck at Ridder Arena on Friday, Oct. 19. The Gophers beat Ohio State 3-0.

Jack Rodgers

Forward Grace Zumwinkle looks to pass the puck at Ridder Arena on Friday, Oct. 19. The Gophers beat Ohio State 3-0.

Matthew Kennedy

In the Gophers’ WCHA road trip to Columbus, Ohio, they received their first loss of the year, losing narrowly on Friday 4-3, but came out with a 4-2 win on Saturday to prevent a sweep by the Buckeyes. 

Friday’s game

The match on Friday night didn’t start out according to plan. Less than two minutes into the contest, junior forward Liz Schepers put the puck in the back of the net to get the Buckeyes off to a quick 1-0 start. Later in the period, with five minutes to go, junior Minnesota forward Grace Zumwinkle tied the game 1-1. Her scoring would be a constant presence through the series, posting four total goals during the two games at Ohio State. Her line produced five of the Gophers’ seven goals over the weekend. 

“As a line, we continued to feed off each other and get pucks to the net,” Zumwinkle said. “And used our speed, hockey IQ, and decision making to our advantage.”

During the second period, the Gophers’ defensive effort wasn’t up to their usual standards. Ohio State scored two goals, the first coming from sophomore forward Gabby Rosenthal and the second cashed in by junior forward Emma Maltais. The Buckeys’ 3-1 lead looked to be unwavering going into the second intermission, but Zumwinkle had other plans as she notched her second goal of the game on a power play with a minute left in the period. 

The score stayed at 3-2 until halfway through the final period, when sophomore forward Emily Oden fired her first goal of the season past sophomore Ohio State goaltender Andrea Braendli. With the score at 3-3 the Gophers seemed to have momentum until Schepers scored her second goal of the game two minutes later. That goal would be the last of the match, as the Gophers were unable to tie the game in the remaining eight minutes of regulation. The final score was 4-3, with the Gophers out-shooting the Buckeyes 36-31.

Saturday’s game

In the second game of the doubleheader, the Buckeyes had another great start. Freshman forward Jennifer Gardiner scored the first goal of the game and her first goal of the season midway through the period. That lead would stay constant throughout the opening period.

Like the previous game, Zumwinkle responded to an early deficit. She scored a goal in the 12-minute mark of the second period to tie the game. Following that score, with just under a minute left in the period, redshirt sophomore forward Amy Potomak scored a goal to put the Gophers ahead 2-1.

The third period was all Gophers, as Zumwinkle and sophomore forward Taylor Heise raised the Gophers’ lead to 4-1, making a comeback a tough task for the Buckeyes. Ohio State did not give up though, as Schepers fired a goal past senior Gophers goalie Sydney Scobee near the end of the game. It was too little too late though, and the Gophers came away from Columbus with a 4-2 win, out-shooting the Buckeyes 37-27.

“Our battle level was much higher today than it was yesterday,” head coach Brad Frost said after the game. “it was a team effort, with everyone contributing at a high level.”

The Gophers return home next weekend in a highly anticipated matchup with the top-ranked Wisconsin Badgers. Frost says he believes this past weekend’s series prepared his team for the border battle coming to Ridder Arena at 2:07 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2 and Sunday, Nov. 3. 

“Playing well against a top-ten team like Ohio State bodes well for us having to compete against Wisconsin who is on even another level,” Frost said. “We’ll have to be at our best next weekend.”