Ohio State women's hockey team get familiar foe in Frozen Four

Bill Rabinowitz
Buckeye Xtra
Tatum Skaggs, right, of Ohio State and Maddie Crowley-Cahill of Boston College each drew roughing penalties after a first-period tussle in the Buckeyes' NCAA quarterfinal victory.

Forty minutes of domination put the Ohio State women's hockey team in the NCAA Frozen Four for the second time in four years.

In the semifinals, the Buckeyes will face a familiar opponent.

Ohio State outshot Boston College 43-8 over the final two periods Tuesday night in rallying for a 3-1 victory in the NCAA quarterfinals at Erie Insurance Arena in Erie, Pennsylvania. At 7 p.m. on Thursday, the third-seeded Buckeyes play WCHA rival Wisconsin. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

Northeastern will play Minnesota-Duluth in the other semifinal on Thursday.

The second-seeded Badgers defeated Ohio State 3-2 in overtime on March 7 for the league title. The teams split the other four meetings this season.

"We get an opportunity to punch back," Ohio State coach Nadine Muzerall said Wednesday. "Losing in overtime leaves a bitter taste in everybody's mouth.

"We know each other very well. We know their key players. We know some of their weaknesses and their strengths, and I'm sure they do ours."

If the Buckeyes play they did in the second and third periods on Tuesday, they have good reason to like their chances. Ohio State trailed 1-0 after one period against BC. After that, the Buckeyes took over, outshooting the Eagles 27-4 in the second period and 16-4 in the third.

"I do think they played fantastic in the second and third period," Muzerall said. "I think they got their jitters out of them. We have a young team, so a lot haven't played at this level before. But what they need to do is trust in the system of what we did to get to this point and believe in themselves."

Still, it took until the final four minutes of the second period for the Buckeyes to score. Jenna Buglioni tied the score with a power-play goal, assisted by Liz Schepers and Tatum Skaggs with 3:27 left. Three minutes later, Brooke Bink poked in a rebound off a shot by Paetyn Levis after Madison Bizal kept the puck in the zone.

The domination continued in the third period. Gabby Rosenthal, assisted by Skaggs and Emma Maltais, added the final goal.

It was a victory the Buckeyes have awaited since last year's NCAA tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Buckeyes were at the airport gate last March ready to board their flight to Minneapolis when the pandemic ended their season abruptly.

The team's seniors were freshman in 2018 when Ohio State lost in a Frozen Four semifinal to Clarkson 1-0 in overtime. Now they're back, ready for another matchup against Wisconsin with a chance to go to the NCAA championship game for the first time.

"I'm really excited to get another crack at them," said Maltais, a senior. "After not having the outcome we wanted in the WCHA championship, I think we're all looking for revenge on them and just want to play our game here at the NCAAs.

"Freshman year at the NCAAs was a really special moment for my class, and we're just excited to share that with another group here."