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Ohio State coach's will to win instilled in defending Frozen Four champs

For the second consecutive season, the Buckeyes are the No. 1 seed heading into the Frozen Four. They'll look to win their second-ever national title in 2023.

college women's ice hockey practice
Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall talks to her team during practice for the Frozen Four at Amsoil Arena on Thursday, March 16, 2023, in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — “A lot of teams can win one [a national championship], but can you defend it?”

Those are the words Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall uttered during a press conference on Thursday after the squad’s practice leading up to the 2023 Frozen Four. After winning the program's first ever national championship in 2022, Ohio State is back and ready for more.

“I’m extremely competitive so I want to win all the time, and I’m sure my athletes think the same,” she added. “I wouldn’t use the word nervous or anxious or anything like that, it’s just like adrenaline and you have a passion that you want to win all the time. So that’s what’s fueling me and going through my soul, is just to win, and I think that that bleeds into them.”

college women's ice hockey practice
Ohio State defenseman Sophie Jaques (18) skates with the puck during practice for the Frozen Four at Amsoil Arena on Thursday, March 16, 2023, in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

The Buckeyes once again come in as the No. 1 team in the nation leading up to their Frozen Four semifinal match against No. 5 Northeastern (34-2-1). Their 32-5-2 record includes three losses to Minnesota and an overtime loss to both Minnesota Duluth and Wisconsin.

“We have really dove into [Northeastern's] film and their systems, we’ve been focusing on some of their key players, we know some of their key players and they’ve been recognized nationally, so it’s no secret that we have a really tough opponent,” said graduate forward Emma Maltais on their upcoming opponent.


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.

Muzerall said that the team is fully aware that Northeastern’s top line may be the best offensive line that they’ve seen all season.

Ohio State is led in points by senior forward Jennifer Gardiner, who is a Patty Kazmaier top-10 finalist this season with 21 goals and 35 assists to her name. Sophie Jaques, a top-three finalist for the Kazmaier award for the second year in a row, is arguably the best defender in the nation and currently has a team-high of 24 goals.

The Buckeyes have a deep lineup that can find scoring on any one of its lines and Emma Maltais, Paetyn Levis, Makenna Webster, and Gabby Rosenthal all have contributed 30-plus points in 2022-23. Amanda Thiele has earned the starting netminder position for most of the season and has a .910 save percentage with a 1.92 goals-against-average to her name.

Nadine Muzerall has won a national championship as a player and as a coach. On The Rink Live podcast, she talks about the challenges for her top-ranked team and previews the national semifinals game

It’s quite obvious that the Buckeyes have a fiery offense and incredible special teams units. Ohio State is second in the NCAA for total goals scored (166) and goals-per-game (4.26) in 2022-23 and they have the best power-play percentage in the country right now, operating at 33.3%.

On the other hand, the penalty kill hasn’t been the sharpest as of late, at 81.4%, which could be a key to success for the other teams at the Frozen Four.

A commonly asked question of Ohio State coaches and players is how they deal with being the No. 1 team in the nation and having a target on their backs.

“From a coach's standpoint I think it’s great, because it elevates their game, because now they’re held accountable to be elite all the time, understanding you’re getting everyone’s best,” Muzerall said. “They thrive off of that, like any great athlete they want to be tested, they want to be challenged, and I think that makes it more fun for them.”

No. 1 Ohio State will faceoff against No. 5 Northeastern on at 2:30 p.m. CT Friday, March 17 at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+.


Sydney Wolf is a reporter for The Rink Live, primarily covering youth and high school hockey. She joined the team in November of 2021 and graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in Mass Communications and a minor in Writing and Rhetoric Studies.
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