Ohio State scored three straight goals and got strong goaltending from Andrea Braendli on Friday night as the Buckeyes beat No. 4 Minnesota 4-2 in the women’s hockey season opener at Ridder Arena.
Braendli stepped up big after allowing a goal in the first period. Each Gophers rush was shut down by the senior goaltender. Braendli finished the night with 34 saves.
“She was great, not a lot of second and third chance opportunities. When we did have those opportunities, somehow it stayed out of the net,” Gophers coach Brad Frost said. “She played really solid.”
The second period was dominated by Ohio State as the Buckeyes tallied two more goals. Jenna Buglioni broke the tie with a backhand shot that skimmed Gophers goalie Lauren Bench’s shoulder and found the back of the net. Just about four minutes later Claire DeGeorge netted her second of the game to give the Buckeyes a two-goal lead.
That ended up being all the Buckeyes needed to take down Minnesota after its quick start.
The game got off to a good start for Minnesota in its 25th season of women’s hockey. The Gophers were pressing the Buckeyes from the get go, applying constant pressure in the offensive zone. Minnesota got on the board first courtesy of Peyton Hemp grabbing her first career goal.
Everything seemed to be going right for Minnesota through the first half of the period. Then came the penalties.
“It was exactly what we wanted and how we wanna play. (The penalties) killed the momentum a little bit, but we had our game in spurts, we just need to do it more consistently,” Frost said on the opening period.
The Gophers accumulated four penalties in the first period alone, one leading to the equalizer by DeGeorge with just under seven minutes left. Minnesota completely gave up its momentum, and Ohio State found itself right back in the game.
“We gotta stay out of the box. Just have to find a way to do that and keeping our hands down. Our team was pretty pumped up to get going, and I think that might’ve led to that. But overall we just need to keep our hands and sticks down,” Frost said.
Minnesota finally seemed to be retaking the momentum after multiple offensive zone surges, but Braendli continued to shut them down early in the second period. That opened the door for Ohio State, and unlike Minnesota, the Buckeyes were able to find the back of the net. Not once, but twice.
The Gophers weren’t completely out of things as senior Taylor Heise was able to finally get one past Braendli on a snipe from the slot late in the game. With just over two minutes remaining, Minnesota got back to within one, but it was too little too late.
Moments later Ohio State’s Paetyn Levis scored an empty netter to push things out of reach.
Minnesota and Ohio State are right back in action Saturday at 3 p.m.