Abbey Murphy's goals, grit spur Gophers past top-ranked Ohio State
Known for her offensive skill and her hard-nosed play without the puck, Minnesota Gophers standout Abbey Murphy supplied just enough both, handing Ohio State its first regulation loss since October.
MINNEAPOLIS — It’s been a poorly-kept secret for a few years now that Minnesota Gophers forward Abbey Murphy’s game is a near-equal mix of goals and grit. The hard-nosed Chicagoan brought both to the rink on Friday, scoring a pair of goals as the No. 3 Gophers knocked off top-ranked Ohio State 4-2.
Gophers star Taylor Heise played a set-up role with a trio of assists as Minnesota has now handed the Buckeyes their only two regulation losses of the season.
“It’s right up my alley,” said Murphy of the two-goal, two-penalty game versus a Buckeyes team that likes to play physical hockey. “It’s fun. I just try to stay out of the scruff and stuff, but it always seems to find me.”
She scored on a high-skill stick move in the second period, giving the Gophers a three-goal lead, then shut down a Buckeyes threat late to re-establish a two-goal cushion.
Peyton Hemp and Abigail Boreen also scored for the Gophers (23-3-2 overall, 20-2-2 WCHA) who got 31 saves from Skylar Vetter – 14 of them in the third period when Ohio State was pressing to tie the game.
“A lot of big blocks, a lot of big saves and you need all those things until Murph got us that two-goal lead,” Gophers coach Brad Frost said.
The Buckeyes (24-3-2, 19-3-1) got goals from Gabby Rosenthal and Jenn Gardiner, along with 23 saves from goalie Raygan Kirk, but saw their 10-game winning streak snapped.
After surviving an early Buckeyes flurry that had Vetter scrambling as the visitors put up six of the game’s first eight shots, the Gophers seemed to find an offensive groove. Several rushes to the net ended with Kirk covering the puck, or nearly doing so and getting the benefit of the whistle from the game officials.
“We put a lot of pressure on in the first 10 minutes, and that’s hard to sustain. They’re a good team,” Buckeyes coach Nadine Muzerall said. “It’s hard to sustain that for the whole game. They scored when they had the opportunity and we didn’t.”
Hemp finally broke the deadlock late in the first, swatting in a puck that was about a foot off the ice after a cross-crease pass from Josefin Bouveng. Boreen doubled the lead in the opening minute of the second period after a precise pass from Heise.
After Murphy made a deft stick move around a Buckeyes defender and scored to make it 3-0, Muzerall called a timeout and seemed to calm her team down.
“It was the right time to take a timeout,” Muzerall said. “Our team is usually pretty high energy. I just said there was a lot of hockey left and we’d come back on this team before in this rink with higher stakes … I said ‘If you think this game’s over, get off the bench.’”
They responded with another push in the latter stages of the second period and got on the board via a low-angle shot that crossed the goal line just as the net began to come off the moorings. Frost challenged the call, but the goal was upheld after a video review, costing the Gophers their timeout.
With Ohio State on a power play, the Buckeyes scored on their initial shot of the third period to make it a one-goal game.
From there, Vetter took over, as Frost said the Gophers adopted a “bend but don’t break” mentality, allowing 15 shots in the third, but getting the clinching goal when Heise’s cross-ice pass to Murphy ended in a deflection and a 13th consecutive win for the Gophers
The teams meet again at 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
“Obviously (Saturday) is now the biggest game of the year,” Frost said.
Minnesota 4, Ohio State 2
Ohio State 0-1-1—2
First period — 1. MN, Peyton Hemp 14 (Josefin Bouveng, Madison Kaiser), 14:32. Penalties — Riley Brengman, OS (tripping), 10:10.
Second period — 2. MN, Abigail Boreen 19 (Taylor Heise, Catie Skaja), 0:49. 3. MN, Abbey Murphy 19 (Heise), 8:44. 4. OS, Gabby Rosenthal 16 (Sophie Jaques, Madison Bizal), 12:36. Penalties — Murphy, MN (holding), 2:00; Kaiser, MN (roughing), 6:12; Bizal, OS (tripping), 7:21; Madeline Wethington, MN (tripping), 20:00.
Third period — 5. OS, Jenn Gardiner 17 (unassisted), 0:16. 6. MN, Murphy 20 (Heise), 13:46. Penalties — Paetyn Levis, OS (interference), 10:28; Murphy, MN (embellishment), 10:28; OS, Jaques (body checking), 19:41.
Shots on goal — MN 14-10-3—27; OS 9-9-15—33. Goalies — Skylar Vetter, MN (33 shots-31 saves); Raygan Kirk, OS (27-23). Power plays — MN 1-of-3, OS 1-of-3. Referees — Tyler Olson, Duncan Ryhorcuk. Linesmen — Aaron Neville, Mike Mueller. Att. — 2,848.