Another weekend split at Ridder Arena

Zach Eisendrath

Minnesota’s women’s hockey team found themselves in an all too familiar spot at the conclusion of this weekend’s set with Western Collegiate Hockey Association foe Ohio State: an inspiring, seemingly season-changing victory, followed by a devastating loss.

“It’s frustrating,” coach Laura Halldorson said, “because we try to do everything consistently and we haven’t been consistent lately.”

Minnesota put on an offensive explosion Friday night in their 9-5 victory over the Buckeyes (5-4-1, 3-4-1 WCHA), but mustered only one goal in a heartbreaking 2-1 overtime loss Saturday.

The fourth-ranked Gophers (7-3-0 overall, 4-2 WCHA) have played three sets at Ridder Arena thus far this season, winning the first game and losing the second in each series.

This weekend was possibly hardest to figure out and may be the hardest to recuperate from.

“We talk about being young and learning, and that’s all true,” Halldorson said. “But at some point they’ve got to grow up. We’re quite a ways into the season now and we need to start seeing people step up when we need them.”

Friday night, it appeared the Gophers would have no problem sending away Ohio State with a broomstick on their way to a sweep.

But this weekend won’t be remembered for the Friday’s five-point performances tallied by Bobbi Ross or teammates Gigi Marvin and Erica McKenzie. Rather, it will be remembered for the dead silence that overcame Minnesota’s home ice Saturday when Ohio State’s Shelby Aldous scored the game-winning goal with six seconds remaining in overtime.

Ohio State was the aggressor from the start, as Mallory Peckels scored at 10:46 in the first to give the Buckeyes the 1-0 lead.

Minnesota evened the score when McKenzie scored a power-play goal with less than two minutes remaining in the period.

But that was all the Gophers could manage. After scoreless second and third periods, the game was sent into overtime. In the final seconds of sudden death, Hayley Klassen set up Aldous in front of the crease to sneak the winning goal by goaltender Brittony Chartier.

“I am disappointed because I thought we should have found a way to win that game,” Halldorson said.

But Halldorson said she didn’t blame Chartier for the loss.

“I just felt like the five players in front of her didn’t do their jobs,” Halldorson said.

“It was not Brittony’s fault; that kid was all alone in front and it shouldn’t have happened. Brittony had a great game.”

Friday night’s game was a completely different story.

Just like the last time the two teams met – in the semifinals of the WCHA conference tournament last March – the Gophers jumped on the Buckeyes with three first-period goals.

Minnesota ended their weeklong scoreless streak when sophomore forward Whitney Graft scored her second goal of the season 4:52 into the game, giving the Gophers a 1-0 advantage.

“That was very key,” Ross said. “The first shift was something we stressed so much because that can change momentum for the rest of the game. To win that first face off, get it in their end and just build and keep building every shift.”

Marvin and Ross added goals of their own to give Minnesota a commanding lead heading into the first intermission.

The Gophers didn’t look back. Forward McKenzie scored 45 seconds into second, and added another goal 5:17 into the period to give Minnesota a 5-0 lead.

From there, Ross completely took over.

Last weekend, Ross picked up her first career hat trick in the Gophers’ 4-1 win over the Bulldogs. Friday, she more than impressed; she dominated.

Ross scored two second-period power-play goals and added an unassisted score late in the final period. In total, Ross accumulated five points on the evening.

“I feel like sometimes it just works,” Ross said. “A lot of the time that’s just because of the people around me that are setting me up. I don’t think I’m doing anything different, I think everyone around me is doing a lot of work and I’m getting a lot of credit.”