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Ohio State’s women’s hockey team eyes first trip to NCAA title game

The Buckeyes will take on Yale on Friday night in a Frozen Four semifinal with a trip to Sunday’s title game at stake.

Ohio State Buckeyes v Wisconsin Badgers Photo by Justin Berl/NCAA Photos/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The dream season for Ohio State’s women’s hockey team continues on Friday when they take on Yale in one of the Frozen Four semifinals at Pegula Ice Arena in State College, PA. The Buckeyes earned their third Frozen Four appearance in program history when they outlasted Quinnipiac on Saturday in Columbus, earning the victory thanks to a goal a couple minutes into the second overtime of the game by Clair DeGeorge.

Saturday’s contest against Quinnipiac started out on a familiar note for Ohio State, as the Buckeyes gave up the first goal of the game, marking the third game in a row that Ohio State has faced an early deficit. After Quinnipiac scored 8:26 into the first period, Ohio State responded with less than a minute left in the period. The Buckeyes took advantage of the power play, as Riley Bergman netted her fourth goal of the season to even the score.

Ohio State would again benefit from having an extra skater early in the second period. Clair DeGeorge scored her first goal of the game and 14th goal of the season at the 4:30 mark of the second period. The lead wouldn’t last long though, as Quinnipiac tied the game just over two minutes after the goal from DeGeorge.

The game would go into the third period tied before Sophie Jaques found the back of the net for the 21st time this season 2:05 into the period. The Buckeyes would hold that lead for most of the third period but Quinnipiac not only used a power play, but they also pulled their goalie to get an extra skater on the ice. The 6-on-4 advantage allowed the Bobcats to force overtime when they scored at the 18:38 mark.

The teams would go through the first 20-minute extra session with no goals before the Buckeyes secured their trip to the Frozen Four thanks to DeGeorge’s second goal of the game. The game-winner came on Ohio State’s 77 shot of the game. By comparison, Quinnipiac only was able to put 22 shots on goal. The goal by Ohio State was the 170th of the season by the Buckeyes, which is the most in the country.

Now Ohio State will try and earn their first championship game appearance, but to get there they’ll have to defeat the Yale Bulldogs, who are making their first-ever Frozen Four appearance. In fact, this was the first time that Yale has ever made the NCAA Tournament. To get to the Frozen Four, the Bulldogs defeated Colgate 2-1 in overtime. Yale got a bit of revenge on Colgate after the Raiders defeated the Bulldogs the previous week in the ECAC Championship Game.

The Buckeyes and Bulldogs have met three previous times, with Ohio State holding a 2-1 edge in the series. The past meetings don’t mean a whole lot though, as the first came in 1999 and the other two were back in 2005. The Buckeyes will hope to have the same type of success against Yale as they did against Quinnipiac, who they also hadn’t played in over 10 years.

Ohio State will look to Sophie Jaques to continue to lead them in their quest for the program’s first national title. With her goal on Saturday, Jaques recorded her 59th point of the season, tying Emma Maltais for the most in a season in program history. The skills Jaques has shown on not only the defensive end, but the offensive end as well is what has made the Buckeyes so tough to slow down.

Even though she wasn’t tested nearly as much as her counterpart in goal on Saturday, Amanda Thiele made the big saves when she had to against Quinnipiac. Thiele enters Friday’s game with a 16-3 record this year. The goalie from Michigan has a .940 save percentage this year, with a 1.29 goals-against average. The three goals Thiele allowed against the Bobcats were the second-most she has allowed in a game this season.

Ohio State and Yale will drop the puck on Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Pegula Ice Arena in State College. Unlike on the men’s side where Ohio State and Penn State are conference foes, the women’s team plays in the CHA. Neither Ohio State or Yale played Penn State this year, so this will be their first trip to the arena in the 2021-22 season. The winner will move on to Sunday afternoon’s final to play the winner of Northeastern and Minnesota-Duluth