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UMN women’s hockey splits series with No. 1 Ohio State, remains No. 3

The Gophers experienced their first loss since November.
Image by Ethan Fine
Captain Taylor Heise is returning for her fifth season as a Gopher.

Feb. 3 vs. Ohio State:
On Friday, Minnesota hosted No. 1 Ohio State at Ridder Arena for the two teams’ second series of the season.

The last time these teams faced off was in late October. Minnesota took the first game of the series 4-2 and lost 5-4 in a shootout in the second game.

Minnesota’s Peyton Hemp opened the scoring with a backdoor tap-in, set up beautifully by first-year Josefin Bouveng. Hemp’s first-period marker was her 14th goal of the season.

Abigail Boreen brought the fans to their feet early in the second period with yet another backdoor tap-in, this time set up by Taylor Heise.

Roughly seven minutes later, Ohio State’s Madison Bizal tripped Hemp on a Gophers’ penalty kill, setting Minnesota up for a power play after Madison Kaiser’s penalty expired.

Kaiser’s penalty expired a minute later, giving the Gophers the player advantage. Despite the extra skater, Abbey Murphy elected to make a solo effort, finishing on a far-side shot after a magnificent toe-drag move to beat a Buckeyes’ defender.

Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall called for a timeout after Murphy’s goal in an attempt to kill the Gophers’ momentum.

Four minutes later, Gabby Rosenthal would score for the Buckeyes to cut Minnesota’s lead to 3-1.

Just 16 seconds into the third period, Ohio State’s Jennifer Gardiner scored to put the Buckeyes within one goal.

Despite Ohio State’s late push, Murphy’s second goal of the game would be the dagger; Heise set Murphy up in the slot to put Minnesota up by two goals. Heise’s assist was her third of the game, helping the Gophers shut down the No. 1 Buckeyes by a score of 4-2.

Skylar Vetter held down the fort with 31 saves on 33 shots, including 14 saves in the third period alone.

Feb. 4 vs. Ohio State:
The two teams clashed again for an afternoon matchup at Ridder Arena.

Minnesota got on the board first for the second game in a row as Madeline Wethington scored her second goal of the season. Wethington fired a shot from the blue line that managed to beat Ohio State’s goaltender Amanda Thiele.

Midway through the first period, Sloane Matthews tied the game for the Buckeyes. Hadley Hartmetz followed up 19 seconds later with her fourth goal of the season to put the Buckeyes up 2-1.

The Gophers conceded another early third-period goal, this time from Rosenthal to extend the Buckeye’s lead to two goals.

Kenzie Hauswirth and Paetyn Levis would score nearly a minute apart to put Ohio State up by four goals.

Nine Buckeyes managed to get on the scoresheet as Minnesota was routed 5-1 on home ice.

This loss marked Minnesota’s first defeat at Ridder Arena this season. In fact, this was their first home loss since March of 2022, when the Gophers fell to Minnesota Duluth in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.

It’s also the Gophers’ first loss since Nov. 26, 2022, and only their fourth regulation loss of the season.

Nonetheless, Ohio State scored five goals against the Gophers, the most Minnesota has allowed in one game all season.

The Gophers’ position on the USCHO rankings did not change following the series split with the Buckeyes. However, they do move up on Patrick Donnelly’s “Power 10” rankings, passing Ohio State and claiming the number one spot on Donnelly’s list.

Minnesota still holds a two-point edge over Ohio State in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) standings, currently residing in first place.

The Gophers are currently set up to play Bemidji State in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.

A sweep in their upcoming series against No. 8 Wisconsin could help Minnesota clinch first place in the WCHA for the second season in a row.

The Badgers visit Ridder Arena for the first time this season on Feb. 10 and 11 for the Gophers’ penultimate regular season series. Minnesota looks to get revenge on their rivals for their 4-1 loss in late November.

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