COLUMBUS, Ohio. --- The No. 6 University of North Dakota women's hockey team split its opening series of the season and will have to hope for the same result in its second series of the year - falling 5-3 to No. 10 Ohio State Friday evening at the OSU Ice Rink.
Ohio State built a commanding 4-0 lead after two periods of play, but had to withstand a detirmined rally attempt by UND that fell just short.
Ohio State builds on its impressive start to the season, improving to 5-0-0 on the year, and 3-0 in the WCHA. UND falls to 1-2-0 overall and within league play.
For the second-consecutive week to start the season, UND ran into a hot goaltender that was the reigning WCHA Defensive Player of the Week.
This time it was OSU's Chelsea Knapp who led Ohio State, on the road, to its first sweep in program history over Minnesota Duluth last weekend.
North Dakota came out strong and forced an early tripping penalty on the Buckeyes' Danielle Gagne only 1:27 into the first period.
It was Knapp though that gave the Buckeyes the early momentum as she made four saves from in close on the UND power play to keep the game scoreless.
Ohio State grabbed all of the momentum when Julia McKinnon flipped a rebound over UND freshman goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie (Warroad, Minn.) for the game's first goal at 7:59 of the opening frame.
Page Semenza tallied her first goal of her eventual hat-trick night only 1:14 later, sending slapshot that changed direction off a UND stick into the back of the net, for a 2-0 lead.
Semenza and Tina Hollowell again struck for quick back-to-back goals late in the second period, only 1:14 apart, to open a commanding 4-0 lead.
After making a goaltending change in the second intermission to attempt to spark the team, senior Jorid Dagfinrud (Sarpsborg, Norway) entered the game for Amsley-Benzie and made a couple of strong saves on OSU odd-man rushes to keep UND's hopes alive.
North Dakota finally found a hole in OSU's defense as Tanja Eisenschmid (Kaufbeuren, Germany) sent a slapshot from the point past Knapp on the power play who was being screened. Eisenschmid's first collegiate goal came only 2:52 into the third stanza.
UND felt a realistic comeback attempt was feasible when the lead was cut to two after a power-play goal by Jocelyne Lamoureux (Grand Forks, N.D.) only 1:13 later.
North Dakota's offensive onslaught in the third period continued as it poured shots on net but couldn't beat Knapp again until sophomore Andrea Dalen (Honefoss, Norway) scored her second goal of the season, and UND's third straight in the period, with only 3:03 remaining in regulation.
North Dakota would pull Dagfinrud for the extra skater with 60 seconds remaining, but it was Semenza that scored an unassisted goal into the empty net to hold off the rally attempt with her third goal of the game.
Knapp finished with 32 saves to improve to 5-0 on the year.
North Dakota out shot the Buckeyes 35-20 (64-32 attempted shots) and 16-6 (28-8 attempted shots) in the third period.
The series finale is set for a 3:07 p.m. opening faceoff tomorrow as UND will look to rebound and salvage a series split after a heartbreaking loss for the second consecutive week.