Minnesota scored twice in the final 10 minutes Friday night to ruin Ohio State coach Nadine Muzerall’s homecoming, 2-1.
“It was a lot of emotions for me personally coming back,” she said. “Not just because I coached here, but my alma mater. Seeing all the tradition and the history with the program, and then walking in on the other bench was a little different.”
It was different as well for sophomore goaltender Emma May, making her first start for the Gophers (17-5-2, 13-4-2-2 WCHA).
“I actually found out Thursday that I was going to start,” May said. “As soon as I heard, I started crying. The hardest thing was trying to calm my nerves, because I was just so excited out there. As soon as we hit the ice, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is finally happening.’ ”
Sixty minutes of hockey later, she celebrated her first win.
“It’s definitely amazing,” May said. “I have a great team in front of me. They blocked a lot of shots; I think they blocked more than I saw. I just had a lot of fun out there.”
Her defense limited Ohio State (11-12-2, 5-12-2-0 WCHA) to eight shots, and for more than a period, that attack looked enough for the Buckeyes to emerge victorious. A puck popped out to Julianna Iafallo coming down the slot, and she buried it for her fifth goal of the season. Maddy Field earned her 10th assist on the play, which put OSU up 4:48 into the second period.
Meanwhile Kassidy Sauve, who Gophers coach Brad Frost called one of the best goalies in the country, was far busier, stopping 31 Minnesota shots.
“We rely heavily on her,” Muzerall said.
It took 50:43 before junior Caitlin Reilly circled the net and fired a shot under Sauve to tie it up.
“You get one bounce in and it gives the momentum, and it kind of goes from there,” Reilly said.
After her Reilly’s fourth goal of the season, Kelly Pannek crashed the net for the game winner minutes later.
“Nice play by (Sarah Potomak) on that delay to get that puck to Kelly and redirect that in,” Frost said.
The tallies came after he moved Reilly off his top line.
“It had nothing to do with how she was playing,” Frost said. “I thought she was playing great, but we were just trying to get a spark, so it was great to see Reilly get rewarded with that one.
“My team played a more skilled team, but we played with passion and pride and came out flying,” Muzerall said. “We just got a little bit gassed with the lack of depth.”
Only in women’s hockey can one see a goalie cap her first win with a hug from the opposing coach.
“She definitely gave me a nice little chat about how she’s really happy for me,” said May, who according to Frost, will have to wait less than 24 hours for her next start.