(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee of Violent Turtle Photography)
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In the Xcel Energy Center, we knew a few things about Minnesota Duluth and Ohio State coming into this Frozen Four matchup. Both teams showcase a similar structure of defensive integrity, sound goaltending, and opportune goal scoring. The pace of this one early on did not match that. It netted a bunch of chances, problem for Ohio State, was they were all in their own end. 1:53 into the first, Louie Roehl took a feed from fellow defenseman Matt Anderson, walked in on the right side of the ice, and wired one past Ohio State netminder Sean Romeo from just outside the right faceoff dot.
One minute and eleven seconds later, Jared Thomas took a feed from UMD captain Karson Kuhlman, and then proceeded to race past all five OSU skaters on the way to making it a 2-0 game with a superb backhand to make it a 2-0 game.
The Thomas goal would provide the game winner for UMD but not spare Bulldogs fans a remaining game of close calls and headaches. Ohio State did generate more chances for themselves as the game went on but UMD was able to limit them to 20 shots on net for the evening.
The score remained 2-0 through a physical second period. The second stanza showed OSU’s ability to utilize its speed game to turn things around.. The Buckeyes could not solve Bulldogs netminder Hunter Shepard in the second.
The third period brought some different things to the mix. Ohio State was able to score on a lucky deflection a broken stick on a power play. Wyatt Ege’s stick broke, and the puck went off of a UMD skate and Dakota Joshua was able to keep the puck in. He sent the puck to Tanner Laczynski who wired an elevating shot to the back of the net. This lone OSU marker was not enough.
Ohio State had multiple chances in the final few minutes but could not tie things up. Duluth also was unable to convert on an empty net. This lead to a tense final few minutes for the Bulldogs, but they were able to do just enough to set up a national championship with the winner of the Michigan-Notre Dame nightcap.
Ohio State fans of both hockey teams have a lot to look forward to as both teams made the Frozen Four this season. OSU Head Coach Steve Rohlik talked a little about the superb seasons both had.
“To walk away and have both programs in a Frozen Four speaks volumes of where the hockey is at right now [at Ohio State]”. Both head coaches, Rohlik, and Nadine Muzerall for the Women’s Team have lead their programs to the Frozen Four this season. Both have incredibly bright futures in a great hockey market in Columbus.
Head Coach Scott Sandelin talked about how his team’s ability to play well in one goal games helped them tonight. He also noted the superb play of Hunter Shepard (Shep).
“I’d like to think it’s helped us. Obviously, it’s great when you win them… I think the big change for our team, we’ve played much better defense in the last month-and-a-half, two months. Shep has been a big part of that.”