Enjoying a rise to national prominence over the last five seasons, the journey towards a Frozen Four championship involved many fascinating achievements and inspiring heroines. Among this group of heroines, Elizabeth (Liz) Schepers is synonymous with the Buckeyes success.
Appearing in four NCAA Tournaments and three Frozen Fours, Schepers played a key role in an unprecedented era of success. Bringing her sensational Buckeyes career to an epic conclusion with the pinnacle of a National Championship marked the realization of a dream several seasons in the making.
Embodying the values of a team first approach and strong work ethic, Schepers, raised in Mound, Minnesota, was rewarded with the honor of the team captaincy in her final two seasons. Having never missed a game in five seasons, Schepers holds celebrated standing as the Buckeyes iron woman, enjoying 170 appearances.
During the 2019-20 season, which saw the Buckeyes reach the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history, Schepers logged a career best 22 goals. Highlighted by six game-winners, tying a program record, she led the team with a +31 plus/minus, amassing 43 points, respectively.
Sharing the team captaincy in 2020-21 with linemate Emma Maltais, the honor served as affirmation of Schepers role as a cornerstone for the program and impact player. Gaining the privilege of returning for a fifth season in 2021-22, working on her Master’s in Bioethics, the privilege of the captaincy once again ensured her place in program lore as a celebrated leader.
Adding lustre to such a prolific fifth season saw Schepers serve in the capacity of team captain. Headlining a leadership group which included fellow Minnesotan Gabby Rosenthal as alternate captain, the honor reflected the loyalty, devotion and high regard she held towards her teammates,
“It was really special. This team means so much to me, and to have their trust and respect is something I will never take for granted.
We have so many strong leaders in our program, and so many captains before me that set this team up for success. It has been very humbling to represent them.”
In the 21-22 championship season, Schepers recorded her greatest statistical output, logging an outstanding 48 points. Perhaps more impressive, the Buckeyes enjoyed a sparkling 26-2-0 mark when she logged at least one point.
Marking the second time in Schepers career that she eclipsed the 40-point plateau, her 48 points ranked third on the roster. Trailing only Paetyn Levis and Kazmaier Award finalist Sophie Jaques, her finest statistical showing took place on February 8.
Scoring four goals versus the St. Cloud State Huskies, including the game winning tally, Schepers found the back of the net in every period. Marking her first career hat trick, the milestone set the tone for an exciting time to come.
With a six-game scoring streak in the postseason, enjoying an undefeated mark in the WCHA Frozen Face-off and the NCAA Tournament, Schepers led the way towards the realization of an elusive championship. Leaving her mark in the proud legacy of Buckeyes athletics as captain of this captivating championship team, it served as a storybook ending.
Worth noting, the Buckeyes title enabled head coach Nadine Muzerall to become the first woman in NCAA hockey history win the Frozen Four as player and coach. With Schepers on-ice leadership essential, her impact as captain means the two are intertwined in a unique facet of Buckeyes, and NCAA, glory.
“It is how everyone dreams of ending their career, so I feel incredibly lucky. With the way our program has been building, this championship felt like it was a long time coming. It has been really special to be a part of it the past five years, and this has made every high and low worth it.
This team knew its potential all year and truly believed in each other. We are all so proud to bring this championship home to Ohio State.”
In the aftermath of an epic championship, March 29 proved to be a highly significant date. A very kind gesture involved the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets invite the Buckeyes to Nationwide Arena, a moment poised to supply a lifetime of memories.
With the Blue Jackets hosting the New York Islanders, the full roster, all smiles, enjoyed a victory lap prior to the start of the game. Decked out in their home whites, waving to the appreciative fans, alternate captain, and Hockey Humanitarian Award nominee, Paetyn Levis held the championship plaque.
Following the victory lap, Schepers took her place at center ice. Participating in the ceremonial puck drop, with Blue Jackets alternate captain Gustav Nyquist and Islanders captain Anders Lee shaking hands afterwards, video footage was available on the NHL website, adding a profound relevance.
As a side note, a pair of Original Six teams also recognized a pair of highly accomplished female team. On an evening which saw the Bruins defeat the New Jersey Devils by an 8-1 mark, the Isobel Cup Boston Pride enjoyed the game in a luxury box, the team featured on the big screen during a break in play.
In celebration of their Golden Path Trophy win, awarded to Canada’s U Sports national championship, Montreal’s Concordia Stingers were guests of the NHL’s Canadiens. All wearing their home whites, seated in the same row at the Bell Centre, the Stingers enjoyed a round of applause from the fans on-hand.
Such recognition not only speaks volumes to the high quality of play which encompasses women’s ice hockey, but its importance as part of the game’s future. Simultaneously, it marked an opportunity for the Buckeyes to become an important part of the local sporting conversation.
Recognized by the Columbus Sports Commission as Team of the Month for March 2022, the Buckeyes softball team also invited the hockey heroines for a pregame ceremony. With stick in hand, head coach Muzerall took a wrist shot, the softball soaring towards home plate.
Emphasizing the importance of the championship triumph as a shared win for the community, the accolades and honors added another level to the celebrated standing as national champions. Forever proud to be a Buckeye, Schepers felt such pride reciprocated with the outpouring of support, bringing a victorious validation to an unforgettable achievement.
“It was awesome. We have felt so much support from the Blue Jackets all year, so to be invited out on the ice and see it first-hand was amazing.
It says so much about the Blue Jackets and their commitment to promoting the women’s game.
The best part of this championship has been sharing it with the community and using this platform to bring attention to our sport. A moment our team will never forget!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”