College Hockey Inc.
Dunne Deal! Freshman’s Late Snipe Nets Natty for OSU
Buckeyes Claim Second NCAA Championship in Three Years

Ohio State won the program’s second national title (Photo: NCAA).

DURHAM, N.H. – At her press conference Friday following Ohio State’s win over Clarkson in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals, OSU Head Coach Nadine Muzerall talked about the “accuracy” and “purpose” with which her star freshman forward, Joy Dunne, shoots the puck.

Those traits were on full display again Sunday in the national championship game with the stakes at their highest.

With just over six minutes left in the third period of a scoreless tie, Dunne snapped a shot from the right circle that beat Wisconsin goalie Ava McNaughton (Fr., Seven Fields, Pa.) just inside the far post, giving the top-seeded Buckeyes a 1-0 victory and a second NCAA championship in three years.

It was, coincidentally, the same score by which the Badgers had beaten the Buckeyes in last year’s championship tilt.

This year, however, Dunne – the national rookie of the year – turned the tables, receiving a Hannah Bilka (Gr., Coppell, Texas) drop pass at the top of the circle and beating McNaughton to the blocker side. It was the team-leading 24th goal of the season for Dunne, a Minneapolis native.

OSU goalie Raygan Kirk (Gr., Ste. Anne, Manitoba) made it hold up as the game-winner, stymieing the Badgers for the final six minutes en route to her school-record 22nd win of the year. Kirk, named NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, finished with 26 saves and her NCAA-leading 10th shutout.

“We knew it was going to be a tough challenge because they have so much offensive power,” said Muzerall. “We focused early on their transition side of the game and not giving up odd-man rushes and controlling the neutral zone.

“We did that very well as we were getting our chances, as were they.”

Indeed, prior to Dunne’s heroics it was Kirk and McNaughton who had taken center stage, matching each other save for save in a matchup of the country’s two most prolific offenses. For her part, the freshman McNaughton turned aside 27 of 28 shots, yet still suffered her first loss since Dec. 3.

“Congratulations to the players and all the hard work they put in throughout the year,” continued Muzerall. “Congratulations to Wisconsin. That was one hell of a game. Both teams battled really hard.”

Notes: Kirk and Dunne were joined on the all-tournament team by OSU defender Cayla Barnes (Gr., Eastvale, Calif.) and OSU forward Makenna Webster (Sr., St. Louis, Mo.), as well as UW defender Caroline Harvey (So., Salem, N.H.) and UW forward Kirsten Simms (So., Plymouth, Mich.) … Neither team was penalized in the championship game … The Badgers suffered their first loss since Feb. 23, also to Ohio State, snapping their seven-game winning streak … Simms, who was held off the scoresheet, won the national scoring title with 75 points (33G, 42A) in 38 games. Her teammates, Casey O’Brien (Sr., Milton, Mass.) and Britta Curl (Gr., Bismarck, N.D.) finished second and tied for third, respectively … It was the third straight all-WCHA national title game.