Gophers shut out Ohio State, advance to WCHA final

Minnesota will face North Dakota on Saturday for the WCHA tournament title.

Megan Ryan

The Gophers women’s hockey team defeated Ohio State 5-0 on Friday at Ridder Arena to advance to Saturday’s WCHA tournament final.

North Dakota beat Wisconsin 2-1 on Friday and will face No. 1 Minnesota in the final.

Freshman forward Maryanne Menefee scored first for the Gophers on a power-play at 12:29 in the first period. Freshman defender Milica McMillen took a shot from distance and Menefee deflected the puck into the net.

But senior defender Megan Bozek said the turning point came from the second goal. Baylee Gillanders rushed the puck down the ice and found freshman forward Hannah Brandt for a goal with 1:22 remaining in the first period.

The game intensified in the second period as the Gophers committed three penalties and Buckeyes committed two. The teams nearly came to blows several times.

“Tensions do run high in playoffs,” Buckeyes head coach Nate Handrahan said. “I think that’s the nature of playoff hockey. … Players want to win.”

Senior Mira Jalosuo incurred a penalty for tripping before adding a third goal for the Gophers at 6:16 in the second period.

The referees also penalized Bozek for roughing after an Ohio State player scuffled with one of her teammates.

But Bozek had the last laugh with a blistering shot from the blue line at 11:13 in the third period. Menefee had scored her second goal of the night about four minutes before.

“I kind of saw the goalie was out of the net, so [I] had to take a big wind-up and hope for it to go in,” Bozek said.

Junior forward Amanda Kessel played the whole game but was not at 100 percent. She had played a limited role, if at all, in the last four games, Gophers head coach Brad Frost said.

The Gophers already won the WCHA regular season trophy and are now a game away from adding a second trophy to this season’s haul.

“This is an unprecedented thing that you’re seeing here with Minnesota,” Handrahan said.

North Dakota and Minnesota face off at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Ridder Arena in the WCHA tournament final.

“They’re playing as well as anybody in the country right now,” Frost said of North Dakota. “I think they’re playing with a lot of confidence as well.”