This weekend the Gophers were in Columbus, Ohio, playing the Buckeyes. I was at home listening to the game via gophersports.com while carving pumpkins. The lead art is some of my handiwork and while I was originally going to carve the women’s hockey Goldy, I switched to Sarah Potomak instead, which was a surprisingly apt choice considering how the weekend series went.
Friday night the Gophers came ready to put some pucks in the back of the net. However, Ohio State’s goaltender, Kassidy Sauve, had a different plan in mind. Despite Minnesota putting 16 shots on goal and Alex Woken crashing into it, they couldn’t get past Sauve first period. Buckeye Samantha Bouley also did some crease crashing, and she took Minnesota’s goalie, Sidney Peters, down with her. Then at 12:11 Cara Piazza was the first player to go to the box, on interference charges, when she grabbed hold of Jacyn Reeves, but the Gophers successfully killed the penalty. Instead the Buckeyes drew first blood at 19:35 when Reeves’s shot deflected off a Gopher into goal over Peters’s shoulder. Rebecca Freiburger had the assist. Kelly Pannek almost tied the game at the buzzer, but she couldn’t quite manage it and Minnesota trailed going into the second.
Luckily for the Gophers it didn’t remain that way for long. Dani Cameranesi carried the puck up the side and made a bouncing pass, which Potomak caught and knocked into goal at 3:48. Patti Marshall had the second assist. Then Lindsay Agnew slashed the stick out of Ariana DePinto’s hands and had to sit for her two-minute penalty at 6:15. Peters had to make a great cross crease save, but otherwise the Buckeyes didn’t get to make much of their power play. After the Gophers were back to full strength they spent at least two minutes buzzing around Ohio’s crease attacking relentlessly. During this onslaught Potomak found the back of the net again at 11:04 when her shot deflected off a skater and then through Sauve’s pads. Cameranesi and Sydney Baldwin had the assists.
Despite their comparatively low shot count and lack of possession, Ohio wasn’t out of the game. Maddy Field tipped in Lauren Boyle’s shot from the point, tying the game at 2:53. Lauren Spring had the second assist. Like a lot of Gopher shots during the game, Kate Schipper nearly scored when she rang one off the pipe. A lot more of the shots seemed to go wide this period and the official shot count for the period was noticeably lower than it had been for the last two periods, which suggests that perhaps the Gophers were getting frustrated being tied yet again in third period. Or perhaps this is simply a sign of the Buckeyes’ improvements from last year, as they’ve apparently become much better at blocking shots; this is the sort of thing that’s had to tell when only listening to a game.
In any case, the tie broke when Pannek fed the puck to Potomak and she scored yet again, earning her first collegiate hat trick at 15:24. After that Ohio did what the could to score again, which included Ohio’s coach, Nadine Muzerall, pulling Sauve in the last minute of play and using their time out at 19:15. Jincy Dunne nearly scored from the top of a circle in the last three seconds of play, but Peters shut her down, allowing Minnesota to win 3-2, with shots 38-18 also in their favor.
Saturday’s game saw the same goaltenders returning to their nets. This proved an especially wise choice for the Buckeyes because Sauve had to stave off 26 Gopher shots in first period and she didn’t give up a lot of rebounds. Again, that’s 26 shots by Minnesota in the first period alone. Ohio managed to put three on goal that period, though their shot count did somewhat improve as the game progressed. At one point Sauve leapt out of her crease to cover up the puck when it was ten feet away, probably to get a break from the Gopher onslaught.
Field earned a penalty for boarding Piazza at 11:22 and Ohio killed it. Then Olivia Soares took a delayed penalty for tripping Sophie Skarzynski, which kicked in at 17:44. Despite Minnesota cycling the puck and, as previously stressed, putting shots on goal, they were unable to convert. Shortly after the penalty expired there was a bit of a scrum and bodies hit the ice, which resulted in Baldwin and Dani Sadek both going to the box for roughing at 19:51. The four-on-four hockey carried over into second period and lasted until both penalties harmlessly expired.
In many ways second period was a continuation of the first. At 7:56 Sadek scored with a shot from the point that went through traffic and Peters’s five-hole, which put Ohio on the board. This was the sixth game in a row that the Gopher’s opposition scored first. The Gophers didn’t let the goal faze them. They continued to dominating puck possession and shooting—though they only managed to put 22 on goal this period. Sauve absolutely stood on her head during this game, as most teams hope their goaltenders will do when facing the Gophers. Then, late in the second Woken put a shot on goal, which wasn’t controlled, which allowed Taylor Williamson to catch the rebound and score at 17:06. Patti Marshall had the second assist on the tying goal. By the end of second period the game was still tied and shots were 48-13 in Minnesota’s favor.
Three minutes into the third Field made a slap shot that sent the puck flying into Peters’s waiting glove. Three minutes later Potomak scores her fourth goal of the series, with assists from Pannek and Marshall, at 6:42. Now that they finally had the lead Minnesota’s attack dropped off dramatically, though they still dominated puck possession and certainly wanted to widen the scoring gap. At 16:24 Minnesota used their timeout to rest their players, as Ohio was doing everything they could to wear down their defenses.
With 1:17 left in the game Muzerall pulled Sauve for the extra skater. Sauve had to return to play when Sadek chopped down on Cameranesi, knocking her to the ice and was sent to the box for slashing at 19:15, but she left it again as soon as the Buckeyes cleared their zone. The Gophers almost got an empty netter, but a Buckeye swooped into the crease and knocked the puck out again before it could cross the line. When the final buzzer rang the score was 2-1, shots 57-19, and Minnesota had swept the series with Potomak’s fourth game winning goal in a row—fifth of the season overall. Also of note, this was Minnesota head coach Brad Frost’s 300th win, which comes in his 10th season with the Gophers.
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