Making 42 saves in a game is not exactly the type of performance from which a goalie needs to bounce back, but Ohio State’s Kassidy Sauve found a way to do just that.
Sauve stopped 42 shots throughout regulation and overtime Friday as Ohio State and North Dakota played to a 1-1 tie, but the Fighting Hawks earned an extra point in the WCHA standings, winning the subsequent shootout.
“I think she put a lot of weight on her shoulders after [Friday], she felt like she lost that shootout for us,” Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said. “I think that she’s the type of person, instead of hanging her head, that kind of pissed her off and made her play phenomenal [Saturday].”
Whatever the reason for her play, phenomenal is the correct word to describe it. Sauve made 43 saves in the second game of the series Saturday, leading the Buckeyes to a 2-1 win over the ninth-ranked Fighting Hawks. Ohio State got two goals from its third forward line as Rebecca Freiburger gave the Buckeyes a 1-0 lead late in the first period and Samantha Bouley broke a 1-1 tie in the second with what turned out to be the game-winning tally.
“When your third line is getting some of your goals, that’s nice that you’re getting that secondary scoring,” Muzerall said. “We’re starting to get the best out of everybody and everyone’s producing, not just one line.”
Sauve Thwarts Hawks’ Quick Start
Depth scoring helped Ohio State notch the top ten win, but the Buckeyes could have been out of the game early if not for their goalie. North Dakota controlled the play for most of the first period, firing 19 shots on goal, but Sauve stopped them all and was okay with seeing a lot of action early in the game.
“It’s definitely a good way to warm up early on. I mean, you have your warmup and then you come out there and get 19 shots in the first period, then you’re pretty warm for the rest of the game,” Sauve said. “Not a bad thing at all and our girls were working hard.”
The redshirt sophomore stayed busy the rest of the way. Sauve stopped 10 of 11 North Dakota shots in the second period and made 14 more saves in the third, including several in the game’s final minutes as the Fighting Hawks pressured for the tying goal.
Helping the Goalie
While Sauve was the star Saturday, she was not alone in contributing to Ohio State’s defensive effort. The Buckeyes blocked 18 shots in the win, so the goalie could have been called upon even more if not for the players in front of her.
“It gets the whole team going when you get a blocked shot. It’s kind of like a confidence booster,” Sauve said. “The fact that they’re sacrificing their bodies and stuff for me, that’s awesome that they’re doing that for the team.”
“After the first period, we complained to them about not blocking shots,” Muzerall said. “We just challenged them after the first in that and then they did a great job.”
From One Test to Another
Ohio State’s win Saturday came in the final game of the first half of the team’s WCHA schedule. While the Buckeyes still sit in the bottom half of the conference standings, earning four points in two games against a top ten team could provide a boost for the team moving forward.
“I thought we came out here and we battled hard both games,” Sauve said. “We’re kind of that ‘sleeping giant’ as coach calls us, so, it’s exciting and I’m excited to see where this team goes in the second half.”
The Buckeyes can slay a giant when they return to action; Ohio State welcomes Wisconsin, the top-ranked team in the country, to Columbus for games this Friday and Saturday.
Jeff is a college hockey and Columbus Blue Jackets contributor for The Hockey Writers. He is a former TV sports reporter who has covered, broadcasted, coached and played hockey at various levels. You can follow him on Twitter @jeff_schaffer13