The Buckeyes and Gophers played so even Friday night that they needed an extra frame of hockey to decide the winner.
Despite the consistent back-and-forth action, Ohio State came away with the 2-1 win after Liz Schepers' OT-winner.
@LizSchepers FOR THE WIN!!!!#GoBucks pic.twitter.com/PEWeF2swVn— Ohio State Women's Hockey (@OhioStateWHKY) January 29, 2022
Schepers potted the goal after teammate Jenna Buglioni dished her the puck on a 2-on-1 in front of the Minnesota net. Prior to that, defenseman Sophie Jaques found Buglioni alone in the slot. It was game over for the Gophers once that happened.
An Ohio State win didn't seem so sure throughout the game. The Buckeyes trailed, 1-0, from the middle of the second period until midway through the third. They tied it up off a Madison Bizal snipe on the power play with 8:52 in regulation.
LET'S GO BIZ 👊@madison_bizal ties it up with the power-play goal at 11:07#GoBucks pic.twitter.com/oPVhBVsODK— Ohio State Women's Hockey (@OhioStateWHKY) January 29, 2022
Minnesota's lone lamplighter came when Taylor Heise, the nation's leading point-getter, took over. She entered the Ohio State end, cut middle and fired one over the blocker of Ohio State goalie Amanda Thiele to open the scoring with 10:19 to play in the middle 20 minutes.
Thiele finished with a spectacular 36 saves on 37 shots. Minnesota goalie Lauren Bench countered by stopping 30 of 32 shots. Even though Minnesota outshot the Buckeyes, 37-32, Ohio State sent more shots in the direction of the net, leading 77-66.
THE RIVALRY: Follow all the action between Minnesota and Ohio State in Game 2
The main takeaway from Game 1 of this two-game set is that these two teams are close. Yes, they're ranked No. 2 and 3. But there's almost no difference. Both squads could've potted more goals in regulation and both squads could've put an end to OT much earlier. Minnesota could've easily walked away the winner.
The Gophers and Buckeyes do battle again Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. You can follow the game here.