Minnesota salvages split with Buckeyes at home

C.J. Spang

Three different teams showed up to play for this weekend’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association game between Minnesota’s women’s hockey team and Ohio State.

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Minnesota State
WHEN: 7:07 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Mankato

The silence and the long faces outside the locker room Friday were indicative of a Gophers team that had suffered a 7-1 thumping at the hands of the Buckeyes, while the smiles and the excitement coming from inside Ridder Arena on Saturday were of a second Minnesota team, one that had bounced back from the embarrassing defeat to earn a 3-1 victory.

“We really don’t know what happened (Friday) Ö things like that are bound to happen; it was just unfortunate,” junior forward Erica McKenzie said. “But I think our team showed a lot of character (Saturday).”

After getting swept at home last weekend by Wisconsin, the 5th-ranked Gophers came out flat against Ohio State, and the Buckeyes made them pay for it.

It took only 18 seconds for Ohio State’s offensive onslaught to begin, as the puck got behind the Minnesota defense and Buckeyes junior forward Erin Keys beat the Gophers to it and was able to center it in front of the net. Sophomore forward Morgan Marziali, who was almost caught off guard by the pass, got her stick on the puck and backhanded it into the net.

Minnesota (15-6-1 overall, 12-5-1 WCHA) managed to tie the game nearly nine minutes later when junior forward Jenelle Philipczyk muscled a power play goal past Ohio State senior goaltender Erika Vanderveer.

The Buckeyes (13-9-2, 8-8-2) regained the lead 31 seconds later when Keys scored a spectacular goal by knocking home a tape-to-tape pass from sophomore defenseman Megan Hostasek while falling to the ice.

Another Ohio State goal, less than two minutes later, ended the night for Minnesota sophomore net-minder Brittony Chartier. She was pulled after allowing three goals on just five shots.

But it didn’t matter who was in net for the Gophers because they couldn’t muster any quality chances on the offensive end.

“That wasn’t Gopher hockey,” sophomore defenseman Melanie Gagnon said after Friday’s loss. “We need to find a way to bounce back.”

Trying to avoid the program’s first ever four-game losing streak, Minnesota came out strong on Saturday. They controlled play early on, and grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first period when junior forward Bobbi Ross took a pass in the slot and netted a goal over the glove of Vanderveer.

The lead didn’t last long, however, as the Gophers took a pair of penalties to give the Buckeyes a 5-on-3 advantage. In just 11 seconds, Ohio State junior defenseman Lisa Chesson worked her way in front of the net and banged home a centering pass to tie the game 1-1 with just over 10 minutes left in the period.

The two teams were deadlocked in the second period, until some confusion by the Buckeyes cost them the lead and, ultimately, the game.

Trying to bring the puck out of their own zone, three Ohio State players lost track of the puck along the far boards. Minnesota sophomore forward Gigi Marvin took advantage of the confusion and grabbed the puck, driving deep into the zone. She threw the puck in front of the net, where McKenzie scored the eventual game-winner and the first of her two goals.

McKenzie’s second lamplighter came late in the second period on a breakaway in which she made a great move, switching to her backhand side to get the goal.

The Buckeyes had chances in the final period but couldn’t get a shot past Gophers’ sophomore goalie Kim Hanlon. Hanlon stopped 23-of-24 shots she faced, improving to 3-1-0 on the year.

Coach Laura Halldorson said the biggest difference between the two nights was being prepared mentally, and she said that is something her team has to be more consistent in.

“We have to be consistent in how we prepare and come out and play our best hockey, put the past behind us and move forward,” she said. “We want to build on tonight’s win, and we know we we’re facing a tough team in

Minnesota State at their place.”

“It’s going to be a tough series and we’re going to have to be prepared.”