The Ohio State women’s ice ice hockey team (10-25-1, 6-21-1) was swept by Minnesota (31-3-1, 24-3-1) in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s playoffs over the weekend, putting an end to its tumultuous first season under coach Jenny Potter.
The Buckeyes entered the series with some momentum after splitting their final regular-season series against No. 10 North Dakota. Minnesota countered with some mojo of its own entering the series as the Golden Gophers finished the regular season by sweeping the No. 3 Wisconsin Badgers.
In the regular-season matchups between the teams this season, Minnesota swept OSU twice. The Golden Gophers outscored the Buckeyes 30-5 over the four games.
The No. 2-ranked Golden Gopher offense proved to be too much for the Buckeyes in the first-round series, as the home team topped the Buckeyes 5-2 on Friday and 5-0 the following evening.
On Friday, the Gophers and Buckeyes battled in the first period, but neither team was able to break through. Junior forward Dani Cameranesi scored her conference-leading 32nd goal of the season to put Minnesota up halfway through the second period. Three minutes later, freshman forward Maddy Field put OSU on the board and evened the game. However, the Buckeyes were unable to hold that tie before the second intermission, as Minnesota added another goal with less than two minutes remaining.
The Buckeyes tied the game once again in the beginning of the third period when Claudia Kepler, the team’s leading goal scorer, netted her 14th of the season.
With the lock on the scoreboard, the idea of a stunning Game 1 upset began to creep into the minds of the Buckeyes.
But it was not meant to be.
Minnesota answered with three more goals, the last coming on an empty net, to make the close game look lopsided and give the Gophers the 5-2 win and a 1-0 lead in the series.
On Saturday, Cameranesi once again started the goal scoring for the Gophers. This time she found the back of the net about halfway through the first period. Minnesota then dominated the second period by outshooting the Buckeyes 10-5 and knocking three goals past OSU goalie Alex LaMere.
Despite leading in shots in the third period 9-8, OSU was never able to capitalize on its goal-scoring chances and come anywhere close to mounting a miraculous comeback. The Golden Gophers added another goal with less than seven minutes remaining to finish the scoring and end the Buckeyes’ season.
The No. 2 seed now moves on to the WCHA Final Face-off and is lined up to face No. 4-seeded North Dakota in the semifinals. The other semifinal will be top-seeded Wisconsin facing off against No. 6 seed Minnesota Duluth, which upset Bemidji State in the first round.