Special teams key sweep of Ohio State

Five of the Gophers’ eight goals came from their special teams in their 4-1 and 4-2 wins.

Heading into its weekend series at Ohio State, Minnesota’s women’s hockey team was unbeaten in its last 16 games against Ohio State, compiling a record of 15-0-1.

Thanks to the play of Minnesota’s special teams, that mark is now 17-0-1, as top-ranked

Minnesota swept No. 10 Ohio State by scores of 4-1 and 4-2 in WCHA action at the OSU Ice Rink in Columbus, Ohio.

Five of Minnesota’s (21-1-2, 16-0-2 WCHA) eight weekend tallies came courtesy of its special teams units.

“There’s no question special teams played a role in the series,” Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson said. “That was good to see.”

Minnesota scored both a power-play goal and a short-handed goal in Saturday’s win.

Both came in the first period, with Kelly Stephens’ power-play tally at 14:53 and Krissy Wendell’s short-hander at 16:01 giving Minnesota an early 2-0 lead.

Ohio State (12-11-1, 9-11-0) then got a power-play goal of its own before the end of the first, and the score stood at 2-1 after one period.

After neither team made a dent on the scoreboard in the second period, Minnesota’s Natalie Darwitz made it a 3-1 game at 18:25 of the third period.

Ohio State got a goal with 10 seconds remaining in the contest to make it a 3-2 game before Minnesota’s Erica McKenzie solidified the final score with an empty-netter with five seconds left on the clock.

Goaltender Brenda Reinen earned the win, playing her third-straight Saturday and upping her record to 7-0-0 on the season. The senior turned away 12 Buckeyes shots.

It was all about the power play Friday as the Gophers scored three goals with the skater advantage.

Wendell, Darwitz and Lyndsay Wall scored the power-play goals, with Ashley Albrecht notching an even-strength goal.

“We scored power-play goals, but we still have some work to do,” Darwitz said. “We didn’t move the puck around like we wanted to. There’s always room for improvement.”

Friday’s game was doubly special for Wendell, Darwitz and senior goalie Jody Horak.

Juniors Wendell and Darwitz became just the third and fourth players in school history to reach 200 career points.

“Not only was it historical that they both recorded their 200th point, but they did so in a relatively short period of time,” Halldorson said. “The other two (Nadine Muzerall and Ambria Thomas), it took them four years, and it took these two less than three.”

Horak, meanwhile, made 13 saves to earn the win, tying former Gophers netminder Erica Killewald’s school record of 73 career wins.

“Jody’s carried the load the majority of her four years on the team,” Halldorson said. “And so, it’s a tremendous accomplishment for her.”