Ohio State women’s hockey had its season end in heartbreak on Sunday.
After the program won its first national championship in 2022, the Buckeyes’ efforts to defend that title fell short on Sunday, as Ohio State lost to Wisconsin, 1-0, in the Frozen Four final at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, Minnesota.
It was the first time all year that the Buckeyes, who were the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and finishes the year with a 33-6-2 record, were shut out by an opponent.
How it Happened
Both teams rushed the nets heavily in the opening minutes of the first period, which forced Ohio State's Amanda Thiele and Wisconsin's Cami Kronish to become brick walls in the crease.
At the 10:49 mark, Ohio State went on a five-on-four power play as Wisconsin forward Casey O'Brien received a two-minute minor penalty for elbowing. However, the Buckeyes could not capitalize on the early advantage despite several shots on goal from Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner Sophie Jaques.
A few minutes later, Wisconsin returned to full strength and immediately pressured Thiele and Ohio State's defense. After countless attempts on the net, the Badgers finally converted as Kirsten Simms scored with a one-timer in the slot. Initially ruled as an unassisted goal, Claire Enright was later credited with an assist for the score.
At the end of the first period, Ohio State trailed Wisconsin 1-0 despite the Buckeyes collecting 11 more shots (16-5) and six more faceoffs (13-7) than the Badgers after 20 minutes of action. Buglioni paced the team with five shots, and Jaques added four, but no other Ohio State skater had more than two attempts in the frame.
The Buckeyes continued to lead the Badgers in those categories for the entire second period, holding a 22-16 advantage in shots and a 22-14 edge in faceoffs. However, Wisconsin's energy increased with each passing moment, while Ohio State's decreased.
To that end, Ohio State spent most of the second frame on its heels as Wisconsin maintained puck control in its offensive zone and peppered Thiele with shots. The Buckeyes were able to turn some of the Badgers' wide misses into counter-attack opportunities. Still, their efforts never materialized into serious threats – not ones Kronish couldn't handle, at least.
In the third period, Ohio State became the aggressor and spent most of the first 10 minutes in the offensive zone. Jaques, Paetyn Levis, Hadley Hartmetz, Emma Maltais (two) and Jenn Gardiner (three) all took shots in that span, and the Buckeyes carried momentum into the second media timeout at the 9:20 mark.
After the break, the Buckeyes continued to attack the crease, but the Badgers' defense remained stout defensively as they protected Kronish in the net. As Ohio State continued to come up empty, head coach Nadine Muzerall called a timeout with 2:42 left in an effort to rally her players for a final push.
Unfortunately for Muzerall and Ohio State, that effort wasn't enough to push the team over the hump, and the Buckeyes could do nothing but watch as the Badgers rushed Kronish at their net and celebrated Wisconsin's seventh national championship in program history.
- Wisconsin's Cami Kronish, Kirsten Simms and Laila Edwards were named the first, second and third Stars of the Game after the contest ended. Kronish was also named the Frozen Four's Most Outstanding Player.
- This was the first time all season that Ohio State was held without a goal. In the team's first 40 games this season, the Buckeyes averaged 4.23 goals per contest and were never shut out.
- Sophie Jaques was named the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner on Saturday after a season in which she collected 24 goals and 48 points for the Buckeyes. Both numbers rank first among all Division I defensemen, while her nine power-play goals are tied for the most in the country regardless of position.
- Sophie Jaques and Jenn Gardiner were named American Hockey Coaches Association All-Americans on Thursday. Jaques was a member of the first team for the second consecutive season, and Gardiner was a second-team honoree for the first time in her career.
- Nadine Muzerall was named a finalist for the American Hockey Coaches Association Women's Coach of the Year Award on Monday. Muzerall has led the Buckeyes to four consecutive Frozen Four appearances and coached Ohio State to its first national championship in 2021-22.