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Myers: Buckeyes nor'easter is more than Northeastern can weather

The Huskies knew a storm was coming early in game one of the 2023 NCAA Women's Frozen Four. But even that knowledge and preparation wasn't enough to thwart Ohio State's relentless offense.

College women play ice hockey
Ohio State forward Sloane Matthews (22) celebrates after scoring a goal against Northeastern during the Frozen Four semifinal at Amsoil Arena on Friday, March 17, 2023, in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH – As far as we know, there’s no 218 Chapter of the Northeastern University Alumni Club. So a fever for the Huskies’ women’s hockey program is the only explanation for a few hundred fans of the program that is clearly fourth in the pecking order of Beantown-area college hockey teams (behind, in some order, Harvard, Boston College and Boston University) showing up at the Women's Frozen Four opener.

Whether those fans made the 22-hour highway trek to Duluth from their campus – which is within a long David Ortiz poke of Fenway Park – or smartly flew to MSP or DLH and then drove to Amsoil Arena, they almost certainly made their way through some rough weather. The night before Friday’s semifinal games, the Twin Ports put the “frozen” back in Frozen Four, with plunging temperatures, snow and howling winds that gave out-of-towners a harsh lesson in the realities of “springtime” on the west end of Lake Superior.

Then the puck dropped on the tournament’s first game, and for the Huskies and their fans, the real storm began.

Losses (just two) and even deficits on the scoreboard had been rare for the Huskies this season before they got to Duluth. On Friday, they trailed 76 seconds after the opening faceoff. Ohio State clanked the goalpost on their second shift of the game. The Huskies were out-shot 12-1 early. They had a breakaway negated by Buckeyes goalie Amanda Thiele. They had an apparent tying goal taken away after a review due to a hand pass. And that was just the first period.

Breaking news, photos, bracket info and more from the 2023 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four set for March 17 through 19 at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.

Ohio State’s relentless-by-design forecheck did the things the Buckeyes have been doing for a few years now, on their way to winning one NCAA title and advancing to within one win of repeating.


Coach Nadine Muzerall has joked that she got to be the Minnesota Gophers’ all-time leading scorer – a distinction she still holds 22 years after the last game for which she donned maroon and gold – by never passing the puck and never passing up a shot. Having instilled those traits in the players under her command, “Coach Muzz” stood behind the Duluth rink’s home bench, arms folded in her classic stance, and watched her team shoot, and shoot, and shoot some more. In the end, the Buckeyes put 53 pucks on Ohio native Gwyneth Philips, the Northeastern goalie. That was a notable increase from the 39 shots Yale sent her way in their regional final, which was the biggest offensive workload she had faced previously this season.

She stopped most of them, even thwarting a 3-on-0 break by the Buckeyes in the third period. But by then, the storm had taken its toll, leaving a trail of debris in its wake, and the Buckeyes had a comfortable lead on their way to a 3-0 win.

Credit to Huskies coach Dave Flint: he saw it coming. In the pre-tournament press conference on Thursday, as the elements raged outside and the patches of open water in Duluth harbor churned, he saw the future.

“The one thing that I know will happen (Friday), the first five minutes, Ohio State is going to come at us like there's 10 players on the ice and we need to be ready to weather that storm,” he said. When it was over, and more snow was swirling outside the rink’s doors, Flint used a different analogy, calling the game a track meet, and admitting that the Huskies couldn’t keep up.

The hockey meteorologists were spot-on with this one. The storm came, and this particular nor’easter that came out of the Buckeye State was more than Northeastern could handle.

It will be a long ride home for all of those Huskies fans who made the trek with hopes up high, but hopefully the roads will be clear.

Opinion by Jess Myers
Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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