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Gophers win physical battle with OSU

Megan Bozek recorded her 100th career point in the victory.

The Gophers women’s hockey team beat Ohio State 7-2 on Friday in a physical battle between the top two teams in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Minnesota (7-0-0) extended its winning streak to 22 games against the Buckeyes with the win at Ridder Arena. The Gophers haven’t lost to Ohio State in five years.

“We played very well tonight,” junior Amanda Kessel said. “I thought they were a good team and they have good systems. I think we capitalized a little bit more.”

The first seven minutes of the opening period were evenly matched. Then the momentum began to swing in Minnesota’s direction.

Freshman Hannah Brandt scored the game’s first goal halfway into the period. She skated around Buckeyes goaltender Chelsea Knapp near the corner of the net to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead.

A few minutes later, Brandt had a breakaway opportunity, but this time she didn’t convert. Her shot deflected to the right of Knapp to Kessel, who scored on the putback to make it 2-0.

The first period marked a milestone for senior defensive star Megan Bozek. Her assist on Brandt’s goal made her the fourth defenseman in school history to record 100 career points.

“Sscoring any points wearing [Minnesota’s] jersey is an honor,” she said. “We have a great team and I’ve been a part of four great teams now, and I think that contributes to everyone’s success here. It’s really exciting to get my 100th point.”

In the second period, sophomore Rachel Ramsey scored her first goal of the season from a Kessel pass in front of the net.

About five minutes later, freshman Milica McMillen scored a power play goal, assisted by Kessel and Brandt. Minnesota has scored at least one power play goal in each of its seven games.

The final minutes of the second period were rough for both teams, as each committed two penalties. Ohio State’s Kari Schmitt received a five-minute game misconduct penalty, and players from both teams multiple times were shoving after the whistle blew.

Ohio State’s Taylor Kuehl became only the second player to score against Minnesota this season on the ensuing power play. She scored again in the third period.

Gophers sophomore Rachael Bona netted her first goal this season later in the third period.

Head coach Brad Frost said if it wasn’t for the penalties, the first two periods may have been the best the team has played all season.

“We’ve got to be smarter,” Frost said, using examples of knocking down players and taking bad angles to set up Ohio State power plays.

“I think we’ve been down 5-on-3 four or five times this year, which is way too many.”

Bozek said games against Ohio State usually don’t see a lot of penalties. But a fired-up, ready Ohio State team may have changed that.

“I think once we got a few goals in them they started to get frustrated,” Bozek said. “We can’t retaliate and get penalties because we know what happens when we get penalties out there.”

Frost said Ohio State’s physical play was a great test for the team.

“I really liked how hard they pressured our defensemen on their forechecks,” he said. He said his defense needed that pressure and responded well to it.

On Friday, Bona and sophomore Meghan Lorence switched lines because Frost said he wants to get the second line going. He didn’t say if the changes would carry over to Saturday’s game.

Senior goaltender Noora Räty made 15 saves and held the Buckeyes to 17 shots on goal Friday. At 82 career wins, Räty can tie Jody Horak for the most in school history with another victory.

The Gophers and Buckeyes face off again Saturday at 1 p.m.

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