Women’s hockey plows Ohio State

by Paul Markgraff

The Gophers women’s hockey team learned a new lesson this weekend: victories won’t come as easily as they hoped in the WCHA-Women’s League.
Minnesota also learned that while the teams in the new league may be low on experience, they’re not short on old-fashioned willpower.
And that willpower helped the Buckeyes keep the games close — for a first-year varsity team. The Gophers swept the Buckeyes this weekend, winning 7-1 on Saturday and 3-0 on Friday.
After Ohio State held Minnesota to just three goals Friday, Minnesota took control of the Buckeyes early and often Saturday. Minnesota outshot its league rival 42-19.
The Gophers put at least two shots in the net every period, and Gophers goaltender Erica Killewald saved 18 shots to cement the win.
Contrary to the lopsided score, Ohio State put up a fight during the entire game. Buckeyes goaltender Erica Glaser was busy saving 35 shots, while her teammates forced the issue physically, racking up eight penalties throughout the game.
“It was physical, but they called it pretty close,” said Gophers coach Laura Halldorson. “They played very hard. I was very impressed with them.”
For a first-year team, Ohio State showed that, soon, it might be a real competitor in the WCHA-Women’s League. Though the Buckeyes lost Saturday night to a revved-up Minnesota team, Friday night they played hard but still lost 3-0.
The Buckeyes came out against the Gophers with unexpected ferocity. The Buckeyes tried to rough the Gophers up, hitting them with everything they had, notching eight penalties.
Glaser was the Buckeyes’ savior, saving 20 shots through the first two periods. Junior wing Nadine Muzerall was the only Gopher to score during that two-period drought, slipping a shot past Glaser on a power play.
But heart alone could not sustain the Buckeyes’ tentative hold on the game.
The Gophers broke the Buckeyes by holding them to only 10 shots throughout the game. The Gophers’ experience in close situations gave them an unseen advantage.
“We do have more experience,” said Halldorson. “We have a head-start over (Ohio State).”
In a weekend of solid offense, freshman center Ronda Curtin played an important role in the eyes of Halldorson.
“Ronda had a good weekend; I thought she really stepped up,” said Halldorson. “I think she’s getting more comfortable at this level.”
However the Gophers feel about their performance this weekend, they learned that their WCHA-Women’s League rivals will soon be real forces in the grand scheme of the AWCHA — the governing body for women’s college hockey.
The Gophers face another WCHA rival next weekend when they head to Madison to play the Badgers.
“They played pretty well,” said Halldorson of Ohio State. “But I think Wisconsin is going to be very tough.”

Paul Markgraff covers women’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]