Northeastern has reached the final weekend yet again. This time for the first time they will not play Minnesota-Duluth who was knocked out last weekend. Instead they draw the top seeded Ohioii State Buckeyes.
Northeastern v Ohio State
This will be the first time since 2006 that these teams meet at all. This means Ohiioi State has never taken on a Northeastern team in the Flint Era and logged all 12 of their meetings in the Huskies’ Dark Ages. The Buckeys lead the series 7-3-2 , of note the first official games in OSU’s program history in 1999 were a pair of games where they hosted the Huskies and were swept (6-0, 7-2). Ohio State is the defending champions and knocked off Quinnipiac once again this year to return also for the third straight year. Northeastern traveled to New Haven to face off with he ECAC regular season champ Yale where they never trailed.
How to Watch: ESPN+
Listen: WRBB Radio
Game Time: 3:30PM ET
Location: AMSOIL Arena, Duluth, Minnesota (Minnesota-Duluth)
Keys to the Game
Yes it its an obvious thing to say but this year Northeastern has done int better then any other team as they moved to 30-0-0 when doing so. Getting out to an early lead would allow Northeastern to play their game a bit more, and having the game dictated to them could spell disastrous.
Northeastern has a tough path ahead of them. Only twice in the history has a team beaten two WCHA opponents en route to a championship something the Huskies would have to do if they are to lift the hardware. As has been tossed around on repeat no Hockey East team has ever won the title either, their OT loss in 2021 was the closest the conference had ever come as every previous championship game was a multi goal beating. A pair of wins would also mark the first national championship for the school in any sport.
As mentioned the school has never won in any sport and the conference has never won the women’s title. This team is loaded with players that have gone to the pinnacle each of the last two years falling in OT both times. This leaves a certain hunger that can’t be matched by a team that has just won their first title the previous years. Northeastern needs to channel that into productive energy and not be gripping their sticks too tight to start the contest.
West is Best
These teams haven’t met since 2006 so that doesnt have much bearing on the current teams. Ohio State has never lost to a Hockey East foe int he NCAA Tournament having defeated Boston College in Chestnut Hill twice. Their only losses are to Clarkson and Wisconsin in the semifinals both the eventual champions. OSU us only the third WCHA opponent NU has played in this tournament after going 1-1 against Wisconsin and Minnesota Duluth in each of the last two tournaments.
The Buckeyes are the number one seed and have been the odds on favorite all year long after they were last year where they were the #1 seed and showed it in the tournament. They will be looking to defend their title. The four years the tournament had been contested previously had two teams win two titles in a row (Clarkson then Wisconsin). An Ohio State win this weekend would make the third consecutive team to win two in a row.
Last year Amanda Thiele stole the starting job and carried the Buckeyes to their first national title. This year she has been very good, some say if OSU has a weakness int has been an occasional bad game by Thiele, though they won all but four of her games so that isn’t too much wiggle room. She faces off against the National Goalie of the Year Gwenyth Phillips, the third straight time a Husky goalie has taken that award in it’s three years of existence. Neither one will be an easy nut to crack and you have to think the longer both goalies keep zeroes on the board the tougher int will be for either team to get one.
Northeastern 2 - Ohio State 1
The issues is with Northeastern’s weak schedule that has been talked about ad nauseam we don’t have much of an idea about how they will stack up against a team like the Buckeyes. You could follow the transitive chain of NU beat Yale who beat Minnesota who beat Ohio State and say NU is better but everyone knows that means literally nothing.
My heart says the desperation NU has will come through and give them that extra gear. The Huskies will not be surprised by the level of play the Buckeyes can bring, they have a very veteran core that has played the WCHA four times in this tournament and just played a Yale squad that has been playing that type of hockey all season.