Ohio State and Minnesota Duluth met on Sunday afternoon in a clash of two WCHA powerhouses. Ohio State sought its first ever national title in the program’s first championship appearance, while the Bulldogs looked to add to their trophy case with their sixth title.
Just like every other game at the Frozen Four, the teams started the game out scoreless, with neither team beating the opposing goaltender through the first twenty minutes of regulation. Some good chances were had by both teams — including the massive push by Ohio State at the end of the first period pictured below — but both goaltenders stood strong.
The ice broke four minutes into the second period when Anna Klein was called for a hooking minor and sent to the box. Ohio State scored on the resultant power play when Emma Söderberg went to play the puck behind the net and inadvertently passed to Clair DeGeorge as soon as she got back in front. Söderberg couldn’t get in position fast enough to save Paetyn Levis’ rebound.
An even-strength goal from Minnesota Duluth tied it up late in the second when Naomi Rogge got a stick on a shot by defender Kailee Skinner, and the puck just trickled behind Buckeyes goaltender Amanda Thiele.
The third period started with a flukey goal that occurred when Söderberg came out to play the puck and slipped on the fresh ice. DeGeorge, coming in hot, sent the puck to the back of an empty net to put the Buckeyes up 2-1.
Not to be outdone graduate transfer Élizabeth Giguère tied things up again just over a minute later with a goal, shooting high glove-side on Thiele.
With just under seven minutes to play in regulation, transfer student Kenzie Hauswirth put the Buckeyes up 3-2 when her shot deflected in off the skate of a Minnesota Duluth player. It might have been another flukey opportunity for Ohio State and it might have led to a video review that confirmed the call, but it was enough as the Buckeyes skated to a 3-2 win over Minnesota Duluth to take home their first national title in program history.
3 Stars of the Game
1. Kenzie Hauswirth — The transfer from Quinnipiac has had a quiet season for the Buckeyes, scoring four goals through upwards of thirty games. Nevertheless, her fifth goal...or, rather, the goal that was credited to her...could not have come at a more pivotal moment as it sealed the deal for the Ohio State Buckeyes to win their first ever national title.
“I think all the credit goes to our coach here like recruiting us and wanting us and it felt really special to be able to come here,” said Hauswirth. “I think we’ve all just adapted to taking on whatever role that may be. And at the end of the day, we’re all just super excited to be a part of this program because we knew what culture she was building and we wanted to be a part of it.”
2. Paetyn Levis — A stand-out for the Buckeyes all year long, Levis scored the opening goal for the Buckeyes and continued to compete all afternoon, getting off several good shots that drew iron and never giving up.
3. Élizabeth Giguère — Giguère was a force to be reckoned with at both ends of the ice all game long. The former Patty Kazmaier Award winner made her impact known on and off the scoresheet, scoring Minnesota Duluth’s second goal of the game to tie things up in the third period.
3 Keys to the Win
1. Fast. Physical. Fierce. — It’s been the Buckeyes’ mentality all season long, and there was no mistaking the team’s passion on the ice this afternoon. Between their relentlessness, their physicality, and everything they laid out on the ice, they played their game and it won them a championship.
2. Strong forecheck — Ohio State was absolutely relentless on the forecheck and it served them unbelievably well. They were always the first on the puck and that mentality pushed them forward and developed some incredible momentum.
“I think one of our bread and butters is our our forecheck and how relentless we are and we created a lot of turnovers, a lot of movement from below and hitting our [defense],” said head coach Nadine Muzerall post-game.
3. Power of Paetyn — Paetyn Levis was a rockstar for the Buckeyes all season, earning herself the second star of the game and the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award. Her tenacity and energy helped power the Buckeyes to the national title, and I don’t think there is anyone else the team wants to have at the helm of next year’s squad than alternate captain Levis.