No. 4 Ohio State sweeps second-ranked Gophers women’s hockey team on senior weekend

The Gophers are 2-4 on the season against the Buckeyes.

Gophers+defenseman+Madeline+Wethington+pursues+an+opponent+at+Ridder+Arena+on+Sunday%2C+Nov.+22.+The+Gophers+ultimately+fell+to+the+Ohio+State+Buckeyes+2-1.

Emily Pofahl

Gophers defenseman Madeline Wethington pursues an opponent at Ridder Arena on Sunday, Nov. 22. The Gophers ultimately fell to the Ohio State Buckeyes 2-1.

Matthew Kennedy

Buckeyes barrage Pahl with shots in 2-1 victory Friday

After just one period of play, No. 4 Ohio State already held a 17-3 in shots on goal advantage over the Gopher women’s hockey team, completely dominating time of possession and having a stone-cold defense. The Gophers had a couple of point-blank opportunities in their three shots on net, including a wide open shot by Abbey Murphy that missed when she was inches from the net.

In the second period, the Buckeyes finally got in the scoring column with Emma Maltais scoring her third goal of the season. Soon, Paetyn Levis added to that lead, scoring her fourth goal of the year. The Gophers entered the locker room down 2-0 and were burned in shots on goal 30-7 after two periods of play.

The third period featured no scoring until 50 seconds were left in regulation. Emily Brown sniped in her second goal of the season. But Minnesota didn’t have enough time to tie the game late and came up just short on Friday.

In the 2-1 Buckeyes’ victory, Ohio State outshot Minnesota 38-22. In the third, the Gophers did a much better job defending and providing scoring opportunities, attacking the Buckeyes’ defense frequently.

“Tough result here tonight, in particular in the second period, just not moving our feet and not playing as aggressive as we needed to play and Ohio State took advantage of that,” Gophers head coach Brad Frost told Gopher Sports. “We made a push in the third but at this point in the season, if you only play one period, it’s just not going to work. Back to the drawing board, and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

The star of the game was Makayla Pahl, handling a Buckeye barrage of 38 shots, while only letting up two scores.

“Both goalies are playing well which is a great sign,” Frost said. “Lauren [Bench] will get the nod tomorrow as we continue to rotate.”

Ohio State completes sweep on senior day

The Gophers on senior day celebrated the last regular season home game for the team’s seniors – Brown, Bench, Olivia Knowles, Grace Zumwinkle and Taylor Wente — and got off to a hot start.

Early in the first period, Abigail Boreen scored her eighth goal of the season, followed shortly by Zumwinkle’s team-leading 12th goal of the season. Going into the intermission the Gophers were on fire, up 2-0.

The second period did not carry over that Minnesota momentum as the Buckeyes scored three goals in the period en route to the team’s 3-2 victory. Liz Schepers started out the comeback with her fifth goal of the season and third against the Gophers. That was followed by goals by Jennifer Gardiner and Levis; Levis’ goal was her second of the series.

“We just started getting casual with the things we do to have success up to this point,” Zumwinkle said. “I wouldn’t classify it as a lack of effort but more as a lack of awareness more so.”

Without any goals by either team in the third period, the Gophers had a rough finish to a back-and-forth season series versus Ohio State. It was not the way the senior class had hoped to finish their careers playing at Ridder Arena.

“Terrible second period to give up three and had some glorious chances to get on the board in the third,” Frost said. “Disappointing result, but we will have to regroup for next weekend against Bemidji.”

The Gophers play at Bemidji State next Friday at 6:07 p.m. and next Saturday at 3:07 p.m. That will be the last series of the regular season for the Gophers before the WCHA Final Face-Off and a possible NCAA tournament appearance.