Four days after being named one of the 10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award, Minnesota’s Krissy Wendell scored four points, including the game’s first two goals, as the Gophers (21-3-1, 14-2-1 WCHA) handed Ohio State (8-17-2, 5-10-2) a 5-3 loss at Ridder Arena.
Wendell figured in the scoring on Minnesota’s first four goals, scoring twice in a two minute, 32 second span of the opening period as the Gophers jumped on top 3-0.
Her first goal, at 7:28, came after taking a Chelsey Brodt pass while rushing down the slot. She fought off a backcheck and scored on her backhand just inside the right post.
Goal number two, her 25th of the season, was a shorthanded effort which saw her break to the net from the left wing. Her shot beat Buckeye goalie April Stojak over her glove and resulted in an OSU penalty when Lindsey Steblen was called for high-sticking after the goal.
The Gophers went on the power play 15 seconds later when Emily Hudak was whistled for interference and it took less than a minute for Wendell to set up Natalie Darwitz for Minnesota’s third goal in less than four minutes.
“Both of Krissy’s goals were great plays that goal-scorers make,” Minnesota head coach Laura Halldorson said. “She buried the puck and then she made a great pass to Natalie on the power play.”
Ohio State answered on the power play with 2:42 to play in the first period when Jana Harrigan scored on a turnaround, no look shot from the middle of the slot that slipped underneath Gopher netminder Jody Horak.
Allie Sanchez made it 4-1 for Minnesota just 51 seconds into the second period when she poked home a loose puck and the lead would blossom to 5-1 barely two minutes later when Winny Brodt’s shot from the left point was deflected by Buckeye center Jennifer Desson inside the near post.
“I actually thought we played a little bit better in the second period,” Halldorson said. “We didn’t score as many goals but I felt we had a better all-around period.”
The third period, however, almost proved to be the Gophers’ undoing as OSU outshot its host 9-4 and tallied a pair of goals.
“The third was our best period, without a doubt,” Buckeye head coach Jackie Barto said. “We won some of the one-on-one battles and did the little things very well. We were more aggressive and won the period 2-0.”
Ohio State cut the lead to 5-2 at the seven-minute mark of the final period when Horak was unable to control a shot from Jeni Creary and Meaghan Mulvaney came in from the weak side to tap in the loose puck.
The Buckeyes’ power play provided the game’s final goal with 6:07 to play when Shana Frost got loose in the slot and tipped in a pass from Desson in the right corner.
“I thought we were pretty inconsistent the whole game,” said Wendell, whose four points give her 52 on the season. “We had some spurts where we were good and then we’d have a couple of bad shifts, especially in the third period. That’s not what you want, especially when it’s a two-game series and you have to play them tomorrow.”
Part of the Gophers’ problem may have come from having to shuffle their forward lines. La Toya Clarke, who missed last Sunday’s 7-2 win at Bemidji State, is gone this weekend while playing with Canada’s Under-22 team in Germany. Thursday, Halldorson announced the suspension, indefinitely, of sophomore forward Kristy Oonincx for conduct detrimental to the team.
“We had to put together some different lines this week,” Halldorson said. “Since this was our first game with that lineup, it wasn’t too bad.”
Minnesota and OSU conclude the two-game series beginning at 7:05 p.m. CST Saturday.