It took two overtimes and a school-record number of shots, but the Buckeyes are advancing to the Frozen Four.
After more than four full periods of play, the Ohio State women’s hockey team took the first step toward achieving its goal of winning its first-ever national championship on Saturday when the No. 1 seed Buckeyes defeated Quinnipiac in double overtime, 4-3, in their first-ever home NCAA Tournament game.
In front of a sold-out crowd at the OSU Ice Rink, Ohio State had to battle its way to a win over the unseeded Bobcats. Despite outshooting Quinnipiac 77 to 22, Ohio State never led by more one goal as Quinnipiac goalie Corinne Schroeder made a whopping 73 saves, the sixth-most ever in an NCAA women’s hockey game. But the Buckeyes ultimately fended off an upset bid when Clair DeGeorge scored the game-winning goal just over two minutes into double overtime.
“I gotta credit Quinnipiac, they hung in,” Ohio State coach Nadine Muzerall said after the game. “One person like a goalie can steal a game, and that goalie is unbelievable, probably the best goalie I’ve seen in a very long time and credit to her. But my team, their relentless pursuit to win was impressive today.”
Quinnipiac took the early lead on a goal by Ann-Frédérik Naud eight minutes and 26 seconds into the game, but the Buckeyes tied the game up before the end of the first period when defenseman Riley Brengman fired a power-play goal into the upper shelf of the net with 56 seconds left to play before the intermission.
The Buckeyes took their first lead of the game less than five minutes into the second period when DeGeorge collected a rebound and fired a shot past Quinnipiac goalie Corinne Schroeder from the right side of the net for her 14th goal of the season.
Just over two minutes later, Quinnipiac’s Maya Labad tied the game back up when she beat Ohio State defenseman Sophie Jaques on a breakaway and lofted a puck into the net over the back of Ohio State goalie Amanda Thiele.
Jaques, a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award (women’s hockey’s national player of the year award), made up for it less than three minutes into the third period when she fired a shot past Schroeder for her 21st goal of the season, putting Ohio State back in front 3-2.
With just 1:22 left to play in regulation, however, Quinnipiac – with a two-skater advantage after pulling its goalie and a faceoff violation penalty against Ohio State’s Gabby Rosenthal – tied the game on a Taylor House goal, which sent the contest to overtime.
After dodging a couple of bullets from Quinnipiac, including a shot that glanced off the post, Ohio State missed a prime scoring opportunity in the first overtime period when Paetyn Levis broke free with nothing but clean ice in front of her but fell when a pass hit her skate. Neither team would end up scoring in the first 20 minutes of overtime.
Finally, two minutes and five seconds into the overtime, Ohio State prevailed when DeGeorge scored her second goal of the game.
“It was a little bit of a lucky bounce,” DeGeorge said of her game-winning goal. “It's just getting the pucks in on net, and we were hopefully going to get a lucky bounce there eventually, and that’s what we got.”
With the win, the Buckeyes reached 30 wins in a season for the first time in program history and qualified for the Frozen Four for the third time in five years.
They’ll look to earn their first-ever win in the Frozen Four and advance to the national championship game when they play Yale in the Frozen Four semifinals on Friday at Penn State’s Pegula Ice Arena. That game will begin at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Muzerall believes the way the Buckeyes fought for a win against Quinnipiac will only reinforce their belief in one another that they can win a national championship.
“When we played Wisconsin in the (WCHA) semifinals, we were down, we came back. We were playing Minnesota, the dinner table was set for them being at home with their band and their mascot, and we came back from two goals down and won. And I think this shows the belief in one another, the no quit, the relentless pursuit,” Muzerall said. “The dinner table was set for us tonight, I was excited with the crowd and appreciate all the fans, but I think it just shows their character of how they don’t quit.”
Quinnipiac coach Cassandra Turner said she also believes Ohio State is more than capable of winning it all.
“I think they’re really good,” Turner said. “I think they got a really good chance of winning a national championship. If we got through them, the next game was gonna be hard too, but I think Ohio State has a great opportunity to win the national championship this year.”