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OSU Women defeat Wisconsin to claim their 2nd National Championship!

OSU Women

Ohio State’s Womens hockey team, as they prepared for their National Championship match over Wisconsin, might have been thinking, “Today, we redeem last year’s loss!” Battling for most of the game, the Buckeyes freshman phenom, Joy Dunne, sent a laser over Wisconsin goalie Ava McNaughton’s stick into the net late in the third for the only goal in a hotly contested and amazing national championship final, giving the lady Buckeyes the win, 1-0!

Photo courtesy of Steven Senne, AP

The win is the second for OSU in three years and gives them their revenge for losing the 2023 championship to Wisconsin by the exact score! Wisconsin was looking for the back-to-back NCAA titles but to no avail.


Ohio State ends the season 34-4-0, while the Badgers finish with a 35-5 record.


OSU Women: The winning goal!



Cayla Barnes, having to spend more time on ice due to injuries, nabbed the puck from the Badgers Britta Curl in the Buckeye end. Quickly, she found a streaking Hannah Bilka, who skated with it into the right side of Wisconsin’s end. Guarded closely by Vivian Jungels, Bilka turned to dump off to her skating partner, Joy Dunne, who saw a slight opening to McNaughton’s stick side. Her blast from roughly the left faceoff circle found space above the stick and nailed the upper corner of the net for the only goal of the day.


The large OSU crowd at the Whittemore Center at Key Auto Group Complex in New Hampshire went crazy! “I’ve been working on the shot forever,” Dunne told the media afterwards. “But great linemates set me up to take a shot.”


“Cayla [Barnes] was so thirsty for a national championship,” OSU head coach Nadine Muzerall noted when asked about Barnes’ play to set up the winning goal. “That’s someone you want there who has a high IQ and vision of the ice.”


Raygan Kirk, a fifth-year senior, probably wasn’t sure what her collegiate future held when Robert Morris dismantled the women’s hockey program her first year playing college hockey. She reached out to Muzerall while playing up in Canada, but Muzerall told her she’d be #3 or #4 in the pecking order. And she was for two years. “You’re going to have to work for [#1], Muzerall said to her at that time. But Sunday her coach was quick to point out: “…And to win a title with a shutout shows her character and commitment to persevere.” Kirk was awarded the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.


Wisconsin’s POV

Wisconsin’s head coach, Mark Johnson, had a great comment that really summed up the final Sunday night. “It seemed like a chess match.” After the game, Britta Curl didn’t want to give too much praise to her competition when pushed to say what OSU did better. “They weren’t better. It was just a good back and forth hockey game.”


But it was a game where one mistake could determine the outcome. Curl and her linemate, Caroline Harvey, thought the team played well. “We took away their space,” Harvey added. Space that for most of the tournament Ohio State dictated play. “It sucks,” Curl intoned. 


Both felt the difference was the ability of the OSU defenders to get into their passing lanes and cause havoc. “They were really good at blocking shots,” Curl remarked. This ability to get your body in the line of fire and using your sticks to knock away potential chances was a tribute to the OSU defensive grittiness.

Johnson added: “Ava [goalie McNaughton] did well. She gave us a chance all night.”

2nd Period Craziness


The second period was intense. Blocked shots, shots on goal, incredible saves by both goalies. And an Ohio State injury. Kirk was asked how you stay in the moment. “I just try to treat it like any other game. The environment was awesome… You have to have a little bit of swagger, too.” That was in reference to their loss to the Badgers in the WCHA final.


OSU lost defender Harley Hartmetz in the middle of the second, so the Buckeyes had to rely on five defenders going forward. Wisconsin had their two best chances late in the 2nd. The best of these was with 1:50 left when Kirsten Simms snaked a pass to Casey O’Brien, who slashed between the two OSU defenders for a one-on-one with Kirk. But Kirk stoned her to save the potential breakaway goal.

Simms of Wisconsin finding no room in Kirk’s net area. (Photo by Steven Senne)

Third Period-OSU Women find a way!

When Dunne scored, there was still 7:12 left in the game. Wisconsin tried to throw all they could at the OSU net minder. In that eternity Kirk saved three shots, had her defense register one of their game high 20 blocks and the Badgers Kelly Gorbatenko sent one wide of the pipes.


At 1:55 remaining Wisconsin coach Johnson pulled McNaughton hoping that an extra skater would yield a late, game-tying score. But Ohio State defended well and even had a few shots of their own scream towards Wisconsin’s goal.


So, Sunday belonged to the Ohio State Women! The only thing they had to worry about was getting out of New Hampshire before the snowstorm! Even Ohio State’s President, Ted Carter, attended the game hoping to leave before being snowed in!




Description Wisconsin Ohio State
Total attempted 49 61
Blocked 17 20
Shots off target 6 12
Pipes 0 1
Total on target 26 28
Saved 27 26
Penalties 0:00 0:00


Attendance: 4,378 (3rd highest attendance in championship history!)

Game Time: 2:26

2025 Frozen Four:  University of Minnesota

2024 NC Women's Hockey Bracket

I am a math teacher in SW Ohio. Born and raised in NE Ohio, I am married with four sons who keep the flame burning for all things Cleveland. I cover soccer, betting, football and anything that focuses on the human side of sports.

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