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WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Former Beaver Clair DeGeorge leads Buckeyes to national title

“I wouldn’t want to go out any other way,” Clair DeGeorge said. “Knowing that we’re coming out as natty champs, it’s a good feeling going out this way.”

Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey team faces  Ohio State for national championship
Ohio State senior Clair DeGeorge (14) signals for the puck near Minnesota Duluth forward Mannon McMahon (16) during the Women’s Frozen Four National Championship on Sunday, March 20, at Pegula Ice Arena in University Park, Pa.
Clint Austin / Forum News Service
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Former Bemidji State women’s hockey forward Clair DeGeorge powered Ohio State to its first national championship on Sunday, bagging a goal and an assist as the top-seeded Buckeyes knocked off Minnesota Duluth 3-2 at Pegula Ice Arena on the campus of Penn State University.

“I wouldn’t want to go out any other way,” DeGeorge said. “Knowing that we’re coming out as natty champs, it’s a good feeling going out this way.”

OSU junior third-line center Kenzie Hauswirth scored the game-winning goal with 6:40 to play in regulation by firing a shot wide of the far post. However, the puck ricocheted into the back of the Bulldogs' net after striking the skate of UMD freshman defenseman Brenna Fuhrman.

"(Our team) just never quit," Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said. "I talked about resiliency before and they just looked brilliant today. Areas of the ice that I thought we were a little weak on in previous weeks — we really tightened up our neutral zone, our transition, our back pressure. … I am very proud. We've come a long way in six years."

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An all-WCHA final, the Bulldogs and Buckeyes went into the third period tied 1-1 after both were able to trickle a puck across the goal line in the second. DeGeorge assisted Paetyn Levis’ opening strike at the 4:10 mark of the second period.

Both teams scored in the opening 107 seconds of the third period, with Ohio State taking advantage of goaltender Emma Soderberg being out of place. The UMD goalie got aggressive 24 seconds into the period by initially winning a race to a loose puck heading her way. Unfortunately for her, the pass wound up on DeGeorge’s stick, and the former Beaver captain put it in the back of the net.

“It’s a prideful moment for (me),” DeGeorge said, “being able to represent (Ohio State) and go out there and bring home a national championship. It’s just amazing.”

UMD’s Elizabeth Giguere negated Soderberg’s error a little over a minute later, though, by sniping her 22nd goal of the season past the glove of OSU’s Amanda Thiele.

"That was a true national championship game, it was back and forth," Muzerall said. "I want to compliment these ladies. (We) got on the board first, which was unique for the last five games, and then some credit to Duluth. They kept counter punching and tying up the game.”

Soderberg finished with 36 saves. She had to make 19 saves in the second period when UMD was outshot 20-5. Thiele made 17 stops for the Buckeyes.

032322.S.BP.OSU-UMD
Ohio State players celebrate with the championship trophy after defeating Minnesota Duluth 3-2 at the Women’s Frozen Four National Championship on Sunday, March 20, 2022, at Pegula Ice Arena in University Park, Pa.
Clint Austin / Forum News Service

"I said to them the locker room, 'Just a weird hockey game, a weird game,'" UMD head coach Maura Crowell said. "Most importantly to us, I liked our responses. Coming back from some fluky plays, sometimes it's hard to do, but we did it and unfortunately ran out of time in the end.”

DeGeorge enrolled at Ohio State as a graduate transfer in pursuit of a career as a nurse anesthetist. She scored 28 goals and tallied 51 assists for Bemidji State from 2017-21.

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“Coming here, I was mostly expecting great hockey, great coaching, a great school,” DeGeorge said. “Even if we hadn’t won, I’d still be so thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given here. It’s a cherry on top being able to win the national championship and take it home.”

Pioneer sports editor Micah Friez contributed to this story.

Ohio State 3, Minnesota Duluth 2

UMD 0 1 1 -- 2

OSU 0 1 2 -- 3

First period -- No scoring.

Second period -- 1, OSU GOAL, Levis (DeGeorge), 4:10, PP; 2, UMD GOAL, Rogge (Skinner, Anderson), 12:42.

Third period -- 3, OSU GOAL, DeGeorge (Levis), 0:24; 4, UMD GOAL, Giguere (Klein), 1:47; 5, OSU GOAL, Hauswirth (unassisted), 13:20.

Saves -- Thiele (OSU) 17; Soderberg (UMD) 36.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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