Sweep of OSU concludes Gophers’ road schedule

The Gophers twice dominated Ohio State.

Samuel Gordon

 

The Gophers women’s hockey team flew out to Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday. On Sunday, 1,500 miles and two victories later, it returned to Minneapolis.

No. 2 Minnesota’s third consecutive weekend on the road yielded another sweep of an inferior opponent, and the Gophers will not play away from home for the remainder of the regular season.

“It’s never ideal to be on the road three weekends in a row, but we were,” head coach Brad Frost said. “And we were able to get six wins there and play some good hockey and build towards the playoffs.”

Minnesota cruised to a 5-0 victory Friday — its first shutout of Ohio State since 2004. Five different Gophers players scored, and goalie Noora Räty made 25 saves.

Bethany Brausen scored in the game’s first two minutes to put Minnesota up 1-0. That lead doubled just 23 seconds later when Rachael Bona found the back of the net. The 2-0 lead stood through the remainder of the period.

“We were able to start quickly and put them on their heels right away,” Frost said.

Defensemen Megan Bozek and Anne Schleper both scored in the second frame to put the Gophers up 4-0.

With the outcome essentially determined, Minnesota received a big scare at the end of the second period. With just three minutes remaining, Buckeyes forward Ally Tarr illegally hit Gophers forward Emily West.

Tarr was called for a five-minute major and was given a 10-minute misconduct after the hit, and West, who has been plagued by injuries throughout her career, was helped off the ice and did not return. She did not play Saturday.

Jen Schoullis scored halfway through the third period, and Räty made several big saves down the stretch to preserve the shutout and 5-0 victory.

On Saturday, Ohio made sure it would not be shutout again. Tarr scored halfway through the first period to give the Buckeyes a 1-0 lead. But they were outscored 7-3 from that point.

Forward Sarah Erickson got the Gophers on the board four minutes later, and Schoullis scored early in the second period to put Minnesota up 2-1.

Ohio State star Natalie Spooner tied it up on a power-play goal 5:05 into the period, but Minnesota forward Sarah Davis scored a pair of goals in the ensuing 6:52, and Minnesota was back up 4-2.

The Buckeyes didn’t go away, however, as Spooner scored her second power-play goal of the game with 4:03 left in the period. Just 1:09 later, Amanda Kessel scored a power-play goal of her own, and the Gophers took a 5-3 lead into the third period.

Bona and Bozek each scored their second goal of the weekend in the third period, as did Tarr, and Minnesota clinched the sweep with a 7-4 win.

“We needed and wanted two wins and to come in here, one of the tougher places to play and come away with two wins as we did shows a lot about our team’s character,” Frost said.