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Minnesota Women’s Hockey: Gophers Defeat Ohio State 2-0 to Keep Season Alive

Minnesota has one do or die game left...

Grace Zumwinkle’s two goals helped Minnesota keep their season alive
gophersports.com

The Minnesota Golden Gophers Women’s Hockey team found out prior to the start of their WCHA Final Faceoff semifinal that any chance of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament was gone. After the seventh seeded UConn Huskies upset the top seed Boston College Eagles in the Hockey East Tournament, it was a given that the Hockey East Champion would be taking the bid that Minnesota was hoping was theirs. Therefore, the only way the Gophers will be making their eleventh consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament would be to win the WCHA Tournament crown. The Gophers are now just one game away from that feat after they defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 2-0 in the semifinal on Saturday.

Minnesota came into the game with a 0-3-1 record against the Buckeyes this season. But Ohio State would be missing star goalie Kassidy Sauve who missed last week’s first round series as well. Instead it would be untested freshman Amanda Zeglen in the net for OSU. The Buckeyes controlled the play for the first ten minutes of the game and got several quality shots on Gopher netminder Sidney Peters, but Peters was up to the task. Minnesota put a few good looks on net in the later part of the period, but both teams remained scoreless after a period.

The Gophers would strike quickly early in the second period to take a 1-0 lead. Freshman Grace Zumwinkle, the WCHA’s scoring champion would put a shot through Zeglen’s five hole just 2:26 into the second period to put Minnesota on top. The Gophers would make it through the second period with the one goal lead.

Despite being outshot 16-9 in the third period, Peters pushed back everything the Buckeyes would throw at her. Zumwinkle would add an empty net goal with a minute left in the game, and the Gophers would advance to play another day. Peters would finish with 33 saves in her fourth shutout of the year.

The Gophers will now play arch rival Wisconsin for the WCHA Championship Sunday afternoon. Win and the Gophers are in the NCAA Tournament and would be rewarded with...a trip to Madison to play the Badgers in the first round. A loss—and the Gophers miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007, and just the second time ever since the tournament came into existence in 2001.

The Gophers are 0-4 this season against Wisconsin. This was the first year in the history of the two programs that the Badgers swept the season series from Minnesota—so you can bet that the Gophers would love to find revenge on their home ice and send the teams back to Madison for a sixth game in the season series. To win, Peters will have to be nearly perfect in net, and Minnesota will need to find some way to get multiple pucks bast Badger goalie and WCHA Goaltender of the year Kristin Campbell. Campbell has allowed just six goals to the Gophers in four games this season, including a 1-0 shutout win in the most recent meeting between the teams.

Wisconsin is in the tournament regardless what happens on Sunday, so in some ways it would be great to see one conference foe give a slight break to another to get one more conference team in the NCAA Tournament. But in this case—no way. Wisconsin would love nothing more that to knock out the Gophers Sunday and not have to deal with them coming to Madison next weekend—-especially since Minnesota has knocked the Badgers out of the NCAA Tournament three of the last four seasons. Sunday’s game will be fought between two very desperate teams but for very desperate reasons. The odds are steep against Minnesota but if we have learned one thing, it’s to not count the Gophers out in March.

WCHA FINAL FACEOFF CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

#3 Minnesota Golden Gophers vs #1 Wisconsin Badgers

Where: Ridder Arena, Minneapolis, Minnesota

When: 2:07 PM

TV: Fox Sports North

Stream: Fox Sports Go

Audio Stream: FREE