Buckeyes take advantage of 58-second window to beat Bulldogs in WCHA semifinals
Ohio State once again comes out on top in a one-goal game against Minnesota Duluth, scoring twice in the second period to advance at the WCHA Final Faceoff.
MINNEAPOLIS — For a period and a half Friday, Ohio State couldn’t solve Minnesota Duluth fifth-year senior goaltender Emma Soderberg.
A bad Bulldogs bounce changed that, opening the door to a pair of goals just 58 seconds apart in the second period.
The result was a 2-1 victory for the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes over the No. 7 Bulldogs in the WCHA Final Faceoff semifinals on Friday at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis. OSU will take on Minnesota for the WCHA postseason championship at 2 p.m. Sunday at Ridder.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, await their NCAA tournament fate with the selection show scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday. At No. 7 in the Pairwise rankings — the system used to select and seed the 11-team bracket — UMD is considered a lock to play next week at a regional, location yet to be determined.
“Happy with the way we played, but a couple of mistakes and that's the difference at this time of year,” UMD coach Maura Crowell said. “We talk about it all the time. Who is going to take advantage of the other team's mistakes? They got two of them and we got one at the end there. So that's kind of the story of the game.”
UMD’s lone goal of the afternoon came with Soderberg pulled in the final minutes as junior defenseman Nina Jobst-Smith got a shot through from the top of the slot into the top-left corner with 2:48 remaining in regulation.
The Bulldogs were unable to get Soderberg off again for an extra attacker until less than a minute remained in regulation as the Buckeyes locked the game down defensively.
Soderberg, the WCHA Goaltender of the Year and a top-three finalist for national goalie of the year, finished with 34 saves on 36 shots.
“I'd say Soderberg is arguably one of the best goaltenders in the country,” Ohio State coach Nadine Muzerall said. She made some key saves in key moments for them.”
It took a freak play with 9:10 remaining in the second period for Ohio State to break through, as OSU senior Brooke Bink pressured UMD fifth-year senior defenseman Ashton Bell on a puck retrieval. A pass by Bell in front of the UMD net bounced off Bink and past Soderberg.
Muzerall said she was screaming from the bench for Bink to come to the bench. Bink said the only reason she was still on the ice at that point was because she was the last on her line to change. She said she wasn’t trying to score on the play, and didn’t initially realize that the puck that struck her ring finger found the back of the net.
“I was tired and I was like standing out there in front of the net,” Bink said. “I tried to angle her and I think she just made a mistake and it popped in.”
Buckeyes fifth-year senior Emma Maltais scored 58 seconds later after gloving a failed clear attempt by UMD fifth-year senior defenseman Maggie Flaherty. Maltais fired off a quick shot through traffic to give the Buckeyes a two-goal lead heading to the third period.
Crowell said the first goal was unfortunate, and that Bell’s decision to cut through the middle with a forechecker coming at her was atypical of Bell. Crowell also said she would have like to see Bell’s defensive partner, Flaherty, clear the puck off the wall and not up the middle on the second goal.
The second goal by the Buckeyes was the turning point, Crowell said. That’s when her team needed to dig in and keep it a one-goal game.
“You can't go down 2-0 against that team in that stretch,” Crowell said. “Weathering that storm and overcoming a little bit of adversity, every good team does that well and we needed to be better in that moment today.”
Friday was the Bulldogs' fifth consecutive loss in the WCHA Final Faceoff semifinals over the last five years. It was their fourth loss of the season to Ohio State, as the two teams played a sixth consecutive one-goal game dating back to last year’s national championship game victory by the Buckeyes in the Frozen Four at Penn State.
A year ago, the Bulldogs lost to Minnesota in the Final Faceoff semifinals at Ridder Arena before returning a week later to beat the Gophers in Minneapolis to reach the Frozen Four.
Ohio State is one of four possible regional destinations for UMD next week along with Yale, Colgate and Minnesota.
Fifth-year senior Taylor Anderson said the Bulldogs will do what they always do with tough losses like Friday’s. They’ll learn from it to build some momentum going into the NCAA tournament.
“Ohio State, we might see them again,” Anderson said. “We’ll use that and watch the film on it and take the time to use that to our advantage. A good hockey game like this is always going to be good for everyone. I'm happy to have a close game like this one in the postseason here.”
Rogge sets games-played record
UMD sixth-year senior Naomi Rogge set the UMD record for career games played Friday. It was her 166th career game, surpassing the 165 games Anna Klein finished with at the end of her college career a year ago.
Matt’s Three Stars
3. UMD fifth-year senior goaltender Emma Soderberg — Minus those 58 seconds in the second, Soderberg shut down Ohio State’s offensive efforts. She garnered praise twice from Muzerall during Ohio State’s postgame.
2. OSU junior goaltender Amanda Thiele — After a quiet first period, UMD tested Thiele in the second and third and shots evened to 19-19 per side over the final 40 minutes.
1. OSU senior center Emma Maltais — She caught a clear and put it in the back of the UMD net for the deciding goal. The 2-0 lead allowed the Buckeyes to settle in defensively in the third period.
OSU 2, UMD 1
Minnesota Duluth 0-0-1—1
Ohio State 0-2-0—2
1. OSU, Brooke Bink, 10:50
2. OSU, Emma Maltais, 11:54
3. UMD, Nina Jobst-Smith (Kylie Hanley, Hanna Baskin), 17:12 (ea)
Saves — Emma Soderberg, UMD, 34; Amanda Thiele, OSU, 26.
Power play — UMD 0-1; OSU 0-4. Penalties — UMD 4-8; OSU 1-2.
This story was updated at 9:17 p.m. on March 3, 2023, with the winner of the second WCHA semifinal. It was originally posted at 5:41 p.m. on March 3, 2023.