Buckeyes' bid for back-to-back titles comes up short at Frozen Four
Cami Kronish pitched a 31-save shutout and Wisconsin held off wave after wave of Ohio State attack to seal its seventh national title.
DULUTH — Trailing by a goal after two periods despite outshooting the Badgers, Nadine Muzerall's team was in familiar territory.
Ohio State played Wisconsin four times in the regular season. The Buckeyes gave up the first goal in all but one of those games and won three of four.
Things went differently on Sunday in the national championship game.
Kirsten Simms' first-period goal held up and Cami Kronish made 31 saves for Wisconsin to claim a 1-0 victory and its record seventh national title at Amsoil Arena.
WHO ELSE BUT KIRSTEN SIMMS?! BADGERS ARE ON THE BOARD.— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 19, 2023
📺 ESPNU #WFrozenFour x @BadgerWHockey pic.twitter.com/VBNYcJGleE
The top-seeded Buckeyes' bid for back-to-back titles came up one win short.
"It's obviously hard to repeat because there's a target on your back when you're No. 1 all year," graduate forward Paetyn Levis said. "Everyone's trying to take you down, so you have to play your best every single game."
With a large contingent of Badgers fans in the house ratcheting up the volume over the final minutes, Ohio State applied wave after wave of pressure.
Not much got by a stingy Wisconsin defense, and nothing got past Kronish.
The loss stings for the Buckeyes, who under the leadership of Muzerall have turned into to a perennial contender with four Frozen Four appearances in the last five tournaments. Sunday's line chart featured 14 seniors and graduate students who have experienced that rise.
"When I committed to this program, they actually lost to a high school team that I was currently playing against. No joke," graduate forward Emma Maltais said.
"So when I came here to play, my goal was to beat Wisconsin once. To have the record we did against these teams we play weekend in and weekend out, to have the chance to compete for a national title, is something that I never even dreamed would have happened," Maltais added.
With a new rink on the horizon and the allure of playing for a national champion and frequent Frozen Four qualifier surely helping on the recruiting trail, Ohio State has firmly arrived on the women's college hockey scene.
Don't expect the Buckeyes to go anywhere.
"Losing actually motivates me more than winning," Muzerall said. "So, I look forward to next year's season."
OHIO STATE 0-0-0—0
FIRST PERIOD: 1. WIS, Simms (Enright), 13:28.
SECOND PERIOD: No scoring.
THIRD PERIOD: No scoring.
SHOTS: WIS, 5-11-6—22. OSU, 16-6-9—31
SAVES: WIS, Kronish (16-6-9—31). OSU, Thiele (4-11-6—21)