Gophers score eight goals but get only one win in Columbus

The majority of Minnesota’s scoring came in its 7-4 win Friday night.

Nick Heronimus

An offensive onslaught was followed by an offensive struggle as the Minnesota women’s hockey team split their series with Ohio State at the OSU Ice Rink.

The Gophers (3-2-1, 1-2-1 WCHA) beat the Buckeyes 7-4 Friday night, but could not find the net more than once Saturday night as they dropped game two, 4-1. It was the fifth straight time in which the two teams have split a series.

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minnesota-Duluth
Women’s Hockey
when: 6 p.m., Friday
where: Ridder Arena

“There was a difference in the intensity level between the two games,” freshman Emily West said.

Friday night seemed as if the Gophers were shooting at an open net.

On their way to seven goals, Minnesota cut through an Ohio State defense that allowed 46 shots. The theme of the game for the Gophers was balanced scoring as seven different Gophers scored those goals.

“I just think that shows you the depth of our team,” West said.

She went on to say that when the whole team starts coming together, they are a powerful force.

The first period was the showcase period for the Minnesota offense. The Gophers scored five of their seven goals in the first period and assaulted the Buckeyes’ defense with 25 shots.

“The kids came out flying and got on their goaltender early,” Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said.

Goaltenders junior Liana Bonanno and freshman Diedre Facklis were no match for the fury of shots they would face in the first period.

Minnesota got on the board early in the first when sophomore Kelli Blankenship lit the lamp just 2:22 into the first period.

The Gophers followed with three more goals by junior defender Dagney Willey, West and senior defender Anya Miller.

Ohio State (2-3-1, 1-2-1 WCHA) would not quit and were led by the scoring of Buckeyes senior Tessa Bonhomme. She scored both of Ohio State’s two first period goals.

The Buckeyes continued that momentum into the second period as they outscored Minnesota 1-0 on a goal by junior Olivia Antognoli.

But Minnesota was not done by any stretch of the imagination.

The Gophers efficiently utilized their shots by scoring two goals on only eight shots. Seniors forwards Bobbi Ross and Whitney Graft found the back of the net for the Gophers.

The Buckeyes only goal in the final period came from Bonhomme, who scored her third goal to complete the hat trick.

Saturday, however, was a different story.

The Gophers out-shot the Buckeyes 38-26 but could not get more than one to find the net. That especially rang true in the first period when Minnesota out-shot Ohio State 14-8, but ended the period down 2-0.

“It’s tough to out shoot a team and then be down 2-0,” Frost said.

A large factor to the Gophers not being able to score was Ohio State junior goaltender Liana Bonanno. She ended the night with 37 saves, allowing just a single goal.

Credit was given to Bonanno for her effort, but Minnesota felt like they could have done more to help themselves put the puck into the net.

“We could have done a better job getting in her way,” West said.

The Buckeyes opened up the scoring when senior Mallory Peckels scored at 17:00 in the first period. She intercepted an errant Gophers pass and scored on a turnover for the first Buckeyes goal.

Not to be outdone, senior Lisa Chesson followed 49 seconds later, which would turn into the game winning goal for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes continued to put Minnesota in a hole when freshman Shannon Reilly scored a goal at 8:29 in the second period.

A problem the Gophers battled all night was giving Ohio State momentum and then not being able to overcome that, Minnesota senior Melanie Gagnon said.

The Gophers would regain some of that momentum and have their best period as a team in the second period. They scored their only goal when senior Erica McKenzie put away her seventh of the season off an assist from freshman Jen Schoullis.

Minnesota also displayed some of the defensive improvement they have been working on as they prevented the Buckeyes from scoring on a five-on-three opportunity. The Gophers did not allow a goal during the 53 second span and kept themselves in a game that they would never lead.

The third period once again saw Minnesota out-shoot Ohio State and come up empty on the scoreboard. The only goal of the period came from Buckeyes junior Hayley Klassen, who scored her first goal of the season.

It was another weekend of flashes of brilliance hindered by periods of inconsistencies for the Gophers.

“I felt that we were playing good and not great,” Gagnon said. “We just need to find that balance.”