Ohio State 3, Northeastern 0
The Buckeyes outshot the Huskies 53-15, breaking their season high for shots faced and season low for shots taken. Ohio State owned this game from start to finish, putting together a top tier effort in every area of the ice. Northeastern couldn't do much but try and slow the Ohio State attack to mixed success. The three goals is more than they'd given up in all but one game this season, but was less than the 4.26 the Buckeyes average per game.
What We Learned
- There's no substitute for game experience – Dave Flint knew what to expect from Ohio State and yet his team was but his own admission incapable of handling it. They'd watched tape and practiced things like quicker decision-making and having less space, but when it came to actually facing those difficulties in a game situation, they struggled.
- Digging deep – All of Ohio State's scoring came from players that haven't received the attention or recognition others on the squad had. Game-winning-goal-scorer Sloane Matthews is a third string rookie. Webster and Hadley Hartmetz are transfers. It was big to see a player like Matthews step up and fill some of the space left by bigger names being covered or the defense focusing on the blue line. The Buckeyes will graduate a lot of talent, but the younger kids have built a great foundation.
- Ohio State goalie Amanda Thiele – After breaking out in 2021 and taking over the starting role in net for the postseason and championship run, she experienced some growing pains this season. But Nadine Muzerall stuck with her and Thiele stepped up to that challenge, reigning in her rebound control and getting back to the smooth crease movement and extension of her large frame that made her so inimitable last season.
- Ohio State forward Sophie Jaques – She put 10 shots on net, but also anchored a defense that absolutely overwhelmed Northeastern and not only kept them from doing what's worked for them all season, but also frustrating them to the point that they couldn't adjust. Jaques led her team in blocks and shots and that's what makes her such a special player.
“I’ve coached hockey in division one as an assistant and as a head coach and honestly that is probably the best hockey game that I have ever coached in terms of pride in what my team accomplished. We played against a really good opponent and the way [Ohio State] controlled the game, the pace, moved the puck fast, quick transitions and continued to press [was impressive].'' - Ohio State coach Nadine Muzerall.
“We put a lot of lethal shots on net. We had great goaltending and all through our depth chart, everybody stepped up. We trusted everybody on the ice and they made great things happen. To be that relentless, poised and composed at the same time spoke volumes about our mental and physical ability." - Muzerall.
“They just swarm and swarm and swarm and it's like they get more energy when they get you pinned in. We pride ourselves in not turning the puck over from one top of the circle to the other top of the circle. I think we turned the puck over more times today in that area than we have maybe all semester. That's how they play and they make you make mistakes and then they counter with their speed.” - Northeastern coach Dave Flint
“They were definitely the better team on the ice this afternoon. We struggled to generate offense. You have to do everything quicker. They really don’t stop. When you're used to having an extra second to make a play and all of a sudden that window is gone, it's hard. We have fast players, but they came at you with everybody. It was a track meet we couldn’t keep up with.” - Flint
"I think there's so much trust in this team and everyone just has so much trust in everyone. I think everyone had confidence in [the PK]. After killing it off we just kept playing our game and being relentless and kept taking it to them." - Ohio State forward Makenna Webster
Wisconsin 3, Minnesota 2 (OT)
This back-and-forth game featured far more missed chances than goals, but it was still plenty entertaining to watch. The Gophers took an early 1-0 lead and held that for more than 40 minutes. The Badgers dominated shots and possession in the second period, but could not find the back of the net. But they also didn't panic or get frustrated. They scored twice in a minute on goals from Laila Edwards and Sophie Shirley to take the lead early in the third. But Minnesota pulled their goalie for an extra attacker with about 90 seconds left in regulation and Madeline Wethington capitalized to tied the game and force overtime. Both goalies made spectacular saves in regulation and overtime to keep the momentum with their team. In the extra frame, Ella Huber had some point blank chances in front of the net and Abbey Murphy missed the net by inches when she tried to squeeze the puck through traffic. In the end, it was KK Harvey who took a pass on her backhand, moved the puck to her forehand and picked her spot over Vetter's shoulder to give Wisconsin a 3-2 overtime win.
What We Learned
- All about the peak – Wisconsin had a program-longest five game losing streak in January and the team was frustrated and not coming up with answers. Fast forward just a few weeks and they were matching Minnesota and Ohio State stride for stride to close out the regular season. Mark Johnson has a knack for pulling his team together as February winds down and gets his teams to become their very best selves in the moments that matter the most.
- Familiarity breeds great hockey – There was not one second of boring hockey in the sixth matchup between these two teams this season The players know each other from high school and national teams and no one knows these coaches like their opponent in this game. There are no surprises, just absolutely amazing hockey from a highly talented group of women that can turn on a dime and be decided on the smallest hop of the puck.
- These games need to be televised - It's an absolute travesty that this game was relegated to ESPN+ and only available on streaming. This was an instant classic and one of the best, most closely-contested games women's college hockey has produced. It's a full on shame that people had to pay for a service and watch a stream to experience it.
- Wisconsin freshman KK Harvey - She scored the game winner, but she also registered 14 shots on goal - 7 more than any other player on the ice. She was generating traffic and making plays on offense, while also being absolutely solid on defense. Her poise and ability make an impact at such a young age is so impressive.
- Wisconsin freshman Laila Edwards - The rookie used her size to its best advantage to score her goal, was instrumental in the turnover that led to Harvey's game-winner - and also was smart enough to let the puck through to Harvey instead of taking the shot herself after calling for the puck, and showed really great 200 foot play, blocking shots and turning defensive plays into offensive opportunities.
- The goalies - It doesn't seem right to separate them or call them out separately. They were both beyond good while getting peppered with shots by some of the best players in the world, often at point-blank range. They were unruffled, absolutely solid and the backbones of their teams tonight.
- Minnesota forward Taylor Heise - There is simply no one else like Heise. If it were possible to will her team to victory, her effort and commitment would have done so. After Wisconsin scored their second goal in the span of a minute in the third, she pulled her team together and reminded them this was not the way they wanted to go out.
“Our team knew we were due to score. We kept pressing on them and we were so close for so long, so it was about time we were going to put one in the net. It happened and we were able to get a couple of quick ones. Our team has so much fight in us and so much grit. We knew we were going to come back and get the job done today.” - Wisconsin defender KK Harvey
"I'm super proud of our team, they left it all on the ice. They played for one another. Unfortunately it's an occupational hazard that when you get under the bright lights one team is going lose and one team is going to win and unfortunately we were on the wrong end of it here tonight." - Minnesota coach Brad Frost
"There's just so much skill on the ice and that's why it's so hard to keep the momentum when you have it, because eventually the other team is going to get it." - Frost
"I think they're one of the most talented classes we've ever recruited at Minnesota. This obviously hurts, but it hurts a lot because I hurt for them and the rest of the group because they came back with the intention of winning the national championship." - Frost
"I didn't expect this to be an easy game. Minnesota's a really skilled team, and we've had a lot of good battles with them this year. It's just been a mental preparation for games like this. You grow, you become mentally stronger and you're able to get over things better." - Wisconsin goalie Cami Kronish
"The best thing we did with Laila was we took her from playing the off wing and we put her on the right side. As her coach, I probably should have done it earlier. When I saw it for the first time at St. Thomas, it was like something sparked. It just opened up her game. Gave her some confidence. She's done wonderful the second half." - Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson