WCHA Semifinal: Ohio State 4, Minnesota 3 OT

7 Mar 20: The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers play against the Ohio State University Buckeyes in the semifinal round of the 2020 WCHA Final Faceoff at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, MN. (Jim Rosvold/WCHA)
Ohio State’s Tatum Skaggs scored twice to lead the Ohio State Buckeyes to their first WCHA championship game since 2001. (Photo: Jim Rosvold/WCHA)
MINNEAPOLIS – Tatum Skaggs scored 4:45 into overtime, her second goal of the game, to give Ohio State a 4-3 win over Minnesota and a spot in the championship game of the WCHA Final Faceoff for the first time since 2001.
“We got into a huddle, I think there were tears from all 22 girls,” Skaggs said.
After WCHA Defensive Player of the Year Jincy Dunne won a board battle just inside the Ohio State (23-8-6) offensive blue line, Skaggs was able to redirect a pass from Liz Schepers between the pads of goaltender Sydney Scobee.
“Knowing that I could get into open space for Liz for a tip, as a goalie, that’s hard to save, especially coming from wide,” Skaggs said.
Earlier, Jenn Gardiner forced overtime when her shot trickled over the goal line with 7:27 remaining in regulation.
“Gabby [Rosenthal] made a good play,” Gardiner said. “She flipped it up and it kind of dropped down right on my stick, and I went around the D. I knew, just get pucks on net.”
Amy Potomak started the scoring for Minnesota (27-6-3) when she broke in on the right wing and fired a shot into the top of the net 4:33 into the game.”
“I saw a little opening there over her shoulder and tried to hit it, and it worked out,” Potomak said.
She doubled the Gopher’s lead three minutes into the second period.
“I was just trying to get it to the net,” Potomak said. “As I was cutting, she went down, so I just tried to tuck it around her, far side.”
The visitors had been outplayed to that point, especially in the first period when Minnesota held a 17-3 advantage in shots.
“It’s hard enough to play the No. 3 team in the country in their rink and being down 2-0,” Ohio State coach Nadine Muzerall said. “I just challenged the girls; it’s about character and grit and being unified and a family. And they found a way.”
The two-goal deficit seemed to wake the Ohio State offense.
“I think that once we bucked down defensively, we created a lot of offense,” Muzerall said.
It took just 82 seconds for Emma Maltais to set up Tatum Skaggs for a sharp-angle goal.
“We just renewed our mindset,” Skaggs said. “Let’s go out there and take it to them and do what we’ve practiced [all] season. We knew that when we stick together, things happen.”
At 16:25 of the middle frame, Gardiner buried a rebound on a play that started with a bad Minnesota turnover, the Buckeyes were even, and it looked like they would go to the intermission level at worst.
“We were all a bit down on ourselves, but I think that goal like sparked everybody up,” Gardiner said. “That just seemed like a turning moment.”
However, OSU was whistled for consecutive penalties, and Sarah Potomak passed across the slot for a Taylor Heise five-on-three goal, and the Gophers were back in front.
“Sarah had a crazy amount of patience,” Heise said. “She just slid it over, and wide open net for me.”
OSU goaltender Andrea Braendli denied the rest of the Minnesota shots, finishing with 38 saves, while Scobee made 24 stops in defeat.
The Gophers’ national tournament fate is now in the hands of the NCAA Selection Committee.
“I liked how we played,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “Hopefully, we get to extend our season and play again next weekend, and learn from this a little bit.”
The Buckeyes get a shot at the first title in program history, when they collide with regular-season champion Wisconsin in the final Sunday at 2:07 p.m. CDT.
“It would mean absolutely everything to every single girl,” Skaggs said. “Making history this weekend is something really cool.”