The Ohio State women’s hockey team is two wins away from defending their national title. On Friday, the Buckeyes will take on Northeastern in St. Paul. This is Ohio State’s second-straight Frozen Four appearance, and fourth in program history. Minnesota and Wisconsin join Ohio State and Northeastern in this year’s Frozen Four, with the winners of the semifinals squaring off for the title on Sunday.
To advance to the Frozen Four, Ohio State beat Quinnipiac 5-2 in Columbus. After five of the first six meetings between the schools were decided by a goal, it felt like another tight matchup was in the cards.
The Bobcats were first on the scoreboard, as Kendall Cooper score a power play goal with a minute left in the first period. The Buckeyes regrouped and started to take control of the game in the second period. Gabby Rosenthal netted her 21st goal of the year, scoring on the power play at the 12:12 mark of the second period. Lauren Bernard gave Ohio State the lead four minutes later. Both goals in the second period by the Buckeyes were unassisted goals.
Ohio State would give themselves some breathing room in the third period. Emma Peschel scored eight minutes into the third period, and six minutes later Sophie Jaques would net her ninth power play goal of the year, which ties her for most in the country. After the Bobcats would cut into the 4-1 lead with a goal when they pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, Jaques would score an empty net goal to cap off the scoring in the game.
With her goals on Saturday, Jaques now holds the WCHA record for most career goals by a defenseman. Her 61 goals put her ahead of Minnesota’s Ronda Curtain, who scored 60 goals for the Golden Gophers during her collegiate career from 1999 to 2003.
Jaques will now have a chance to add to that total, as well as strengthen her case to be the recipient of this year’s Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award when she squares off with fellow finalist Alina Mueller on Friday. The winner of the award that is given annually to the best player in women’s college will be announced on Saturday.
Now the Buckeyes turn their attention to Northeastern, who enter Friday’s semifinal with a 34-2-1 record on the year. The only two setbacks for the Huskies came early in the season, when they lost 1-0 to Maine in October, and 3-0 at Providence in November. Northeastern has been dominant throughout the season, outscoring their opponents by over 100 goals this year.
The Huskies earned their spot in the Frozen Four with a 4-1 win at Yale on Saturday. Lily Shannon opened the scoring at the 4:22 mark of the second period. Chloe Aurard and Alina Mueller added tallies in the third period before Yale scored with five minutes to go to avoid the shutout. Maureen Murphy’s empty net goal capped off the scoring in the game to end the season of the Bulldogs.
Leading Northeastern in scoring this year is Alina Mueller, who as mentioned earlier is a finalist along with Jaques for the Patty Kazmeier Memorial Award. Mueller scored 27 goals and has 60 points entering Friday’s game. Maureen Murphy and Chloe Aurard are also very dangerous on the offensive end for Northeastern, with both registering 20 goals and over 50 points this year. Overall, the Huskies have eight players with at least 20 points, and five with at least 10 goals.
Not only does Northeastern have a potent offense, the Huskies also have a suffocating defense, which allowed just 32 goals this season. Goalie Gwyneth Phillips was a mainstay in net for the Huskies, playing all but 10 minutes this season. Phillips posted a microscopic 0.81 goals against average, saved 96 percent of the shots she faced, and recorded 10 shutouts this season.
This marks the third-straight season the Huskies have reached the Frozen Four. Northeastern made it to the title game in 2021, losing a heartbreaker 2-1 in overtime to Wisconsin in Erie. Last year, the Huskies lost by the same score in double overtime to Minnesota-Duluth, who would lose to Ohio State in the final. Now the Huskies will be looking to earn their first national title in program history.
Congrats to Coach Muzerall on being named a National Coach of the Year finalist #GoBucks | https://t.co/ZCiNohjucJ pic.twitter.com/iEBgdbL4b1— Ohio State Women's Hockey (@OhioStateWHKY) March 13, 2023
The accolades keeping coming for members of the Ohio State women’s hockey team. Head coach Nadine Muzerall is one of eight finalists for the 2022-23 National Coach of the Year award. After leading the Buckeyes to their first national title in program history last year, Muzerall’s team recorded a program-record 23 WCHA wins this year, and their first regular season title.
Muzerall has already been named the WCHA Co-Coach of the Year, earning at least a share of the honor for the fifth time, and for the second straight year. The next win that Muzerall earns will be the 160th during her time in Columbus, with the 2016-17 season being her first season in charge of the Buckeyes.
Game time: Friday March 17, 3:30 p.m. ET