Yale and Ohio State met late Friday night in a contest to determine who would square off against Minnesota Duluth in the national title game.
The game started off slow, with the Buckeyes and the Bulldogs finishing the first period tied at zero and with only one penalty on the board: Gabby Rosenthal for cross-checking. Yale couldn’t convert with the skater advantage nor could they beat the third-best penalty kill in the nation, though, and the period ended with both teams scoreless.
The second period was a much different story. Not two minutes into the period, the Bulldogs opened the scoring when a scramble in front of Amanda Thiele created an opening for junior Tabea Botthof to beat the Ohio State goaltender cleanly.
“We’ve come from behind a lot,” said Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall. “But I think that shows our grit and our character and our hard work that we’ve put in all year.”
Not five minutes later, Yale took a bench minor for too many skaters on the ice and the Ohio State power play was quick to capitalize. Paetyn Levis, assisted by Liz Schepers and Riley Brengman, tied the game with a net-front snipe that easily beat Yale goaltender Gianna Meloni. The Buckeyes would add to their lead before the second period was up, with the top line getting in on the fun and Jenn Gardiner sending one to the back of the net.
The third period was a quiet one, but the Buckeyes were able to hold onto their lead and will head to their first ever national championship game on Sunday.
3 Stars of the Game
1. Jenn Gardiner — Gardiner scored the game-winner in dramatic, 200-foot fashion as she is wont to do. Her performance definitely warrants the game’s first star as she was the difference-maker, the tie-breaker, and helped buoy the Buckeyes to the championship game.
2. Paetyn Levis — Levis’ tying goal restored a lot of the momentum for the Buckeyes in the second period, in the same fashion as she’s done throughout her career and throughout the NCAA tournament.
3. Gianna Meloni — No one said could ever say it was easy to go up against a red-hot Ohio State offense, but Meloni did a remarkable job stifling the chances that got through her defenders.
3 Keys to the Win
1. Block passing lanes — The Buckeyes did an excellent job at getting their sticks in the passing and shooting lanes that Yale was trying to create. Throughout the game, Sophie Jaques, Lexi Templeman, and the entire team were making it difficult for Yale to get shots off and make their passes connect.
2. Tire them out — It was no double overtime thriller, but sixty minutes is a long time to play hockey. Ohio State’s history against opponents like Minnesota and Wisconsin have given them a lot of experience playing the long game, and they relied on that once they had the lead.
3. Goaltending on fire — After letting in the first goal, Amanda Thiele was lights out for the Buckeyes.
“She played outstanding, made an incredible save on a two-on-one backdoor [shot]...just her composure, I think, gives us a lot of confidence,” said Levis post-game. “We have to start from the back [and go] up. So her being so strong and composed back there gives us confidence moving up the lineup.”