Gophers advance to Final Faceoff championship

Sidney Peters made 33 saves and Grace Zumwinkle had two goals.

Forward Lindsay Agnew fights for the puck during a game against Ohio State for the WCHA Final Faceoff semifinal on March 3 at Ridder Arena.

Max Ostenso

Forward Lindsay Agnew fights for the puck during a game against Ohio State for the WCHA Final Faceoff semifinal on March 3 at Ridder Arena.

Max Biegert

Minnesota’s hopes of winning a WCHA Final Faceoff stayed alive Saturday after a tough, hard fought 2-0 victory over Ohio State.

The Gophers will now face Wisconsin Sunday at 2 p.m. at Ridder Arena to decide the WCHA Final Faceoff champion. 

No. 7 Minnesota (23-10-3) beat No. 5 Ohio State (23-9-4) 2-0 on Saturday night at Ridder Arena in the WCHA Final Faceoff. Freshman Grace Zumwinkle’s goal in the second period turned out to be the game winner. She added an empty-net goal with a minute left to seal the game. Senior Sidney Peters ended the game with 33 saves and a shutout victory.

This was the fifth time these two teams matched up this season and the first time Minnesota came out ahead.  

“Our team has learned how to play a full game and up until the last few weeks our team has struggled playing a full 60 minutes and tonight we did that,” Peters said. “It is a sign of maturity and it shows that our team has grown throughout the season. 

Ohio State sent a flurry of 16 shots towards Peters late in the third period, but that was not enough. When the Buckeyes’ freshman goaltender Amanda Zeglen was pulled, Ohio State could not tie the game up at one. Zumwinkle stole a pass and went end to end for her empty-net goal and the game sealing goal.

“We always talk about the hardest thing to do is end a teams season and tonight Ohio State played a great game right up to the end in that third period,” Peters said. “That is why you come to Minnesota for games like that.”

Zumwinkle broke a scoreless tie 2:26 into the second period. The Buckeyes turned the puck over in the neutral zone and the puck landed on Olivia Knowles stick. From there, Zumwinkle received the puck and her shot ended up going through the legs of Zeglen. 

The second line of Minnesota was the difference in this game. Zumwinkle and Nicole Schammel totaled 12 shots combined. Taylor Wente had three shots. 

“I just wanted to look to be more of a shooting threat and if the pass is there that’s great, but being a dual threat is better then giving the puck up right away,” Zumwinkle said. 

Ohio State created chances late in the second period, with a multitude of shots around the net, but Peters and the Minnesota defense kept the Buckeyes out. Peters ended the period with 16 saves. 

The first period ended scoreless. Ohio State began the game with a 2-on-1 rush that ended in junior forward Charly Dahlquist’s goal being overturned because she ran into Peters and dislodged the net. 

Freshman Tatum Skaggs had a breakaway opportunity five minutes into the period that hit of the post.

The Gophers will enter Sunday’s championship game needing a victory over Wisconsin to avoid missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007.

All four losses to Wisconsin have been by one goal. Zumwinkle said they will use that as motivation going into Sunday’ game knowing they will need to win in order to extend their season. 

“It is in our hands, our destiny and we got to try and find a way to extend our season,” Frost said. “Not only extend our season, but this senior class hasn’t hung a banner in regards to a WCHA Final Faceoff and that is something our team wants pretty bad as well.”