No. 1 Ohio State and No. 3 Minnesota women's hockey battled to a hard-fought series split in a potential national championship matchup that did not disappoint.
The Golden Gophers (23-4-2, 20-2-2-2 WCHA) took Friday's Game 1, 4-2, before the Buckeyes (24-3-2, 19-3-1 WCHA) bounced back in Saturday's rematch with a 5-1 win, handing Minnesota its first loss of the season at home.
The Gophers are now 2-1-1 in the season series against the defending national champion after a win and tie in their first series in the first half of the year.
Abbey Murphy scored twice for Minnesota in Game 1, while Taylor Heise stayed hot with three assists. Peyton Hemp opened the scoring late in the first period when Josefin Bouveng found her at the backdoor for a tao-in. Abigail Boreen doubled the lead to 2-0 just 49 seconds into the second after Heise's cross-ice pass found a way through traffic, and Murphy extended it to 3-0 on the power play, dancing through a number of Buckeyes before beating Raygan Kirk (23 saves).
MURPHY. MAGIC. @Abbey18Murphy@espn @SportsCenter #SCTop10 pic.twitter.com/CudACpSEk2— Minnesota Women's Hockey (@GopherWHockey) February 4, 2023
Gabby Rosenthal got OSU on the board in the back half of the second when she got her own rebound after missing wide on Skylar Vetter (31 saves). Jennifer Gardiner (one goal, one assist) went coast to coast 16 seconds into the third to cut it to 3-2, but Murphy's second of the night with 6:14 left in regulation out the game away for the Gophers.
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Game 2 saw a much different story, with the Buckeyes taking over the game after falling into an early hole.
Five different skaters found the back of the net for Ohio State with Paetyn Levis notching a goal and an assist, while Gardiner had another strong outing with two assists. Amanda Thiele made 32 saves.
Madeline Wethington opened the scoring for Minnesota 7:32 into the game when she sent in a wrister from the point that found a way through. That was all the traction the Gophers would have on the scoreboard, though.
Sloane Matthews evened it up with 10:33 left in the first on a 2-on-1, and Hadley Hartmetz gave the Bucks the led just 19 seconds later when she beat Vetter (27 saves) from a sharp angle off the rush.
When the answer is so quick, you can have it all in one clip 😳— WCHA Hockey (@WCHA_WHockey) February 4, 2023
Sloane Matthews and Hadley Hartmetz combine for two goals in 19 seconds to quickly put @OhioStateWHKY on top! pic.twitter.com/FuLnkPsOiQ
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In the third period, Rosenthal scored for the second consecutive game to add insurance just 29 seconds into the period, driving to the net and chipping the puck in. Kenzie Hauswirth and Paetyn Levis scored 1:08 apart late in regulation to put the game fully out of reach.
Ohio State will return to action next weekend, looking to keep its momentum going when they host St. Thomas. As for Minnesota, their difficult stretch continues in a home series against Wisconsin.
If the season series between the Gophers and Buckeyes is any sort of indication, the WCHA playoffs and NCAA tournament should be a treat.