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Ohio State BUCKEYES (14-14-2, 8-14-2-2 WCHA) vs.
#6 Minnesota Duluth  BULLDOGS (16-7-3, 14-7-3-0 WCHA)
Friday, Feb. 11 – 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb, 12 – 4 p.m.
OSU Ice Rink,  Columbus, Ohio

Live video: Buckeye Vision (OhioStateBuckeyes.com)
Live audio: Scarlet & Gray Sports Radio (OhioStateSports.net)
Live stats: OhioStateBuckeyes.com
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s hockey team completes the 2011 home schedule this weekend, hosting No. 6 Minnesota Duluth in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series, Friday and Saturday. Games begin at 7 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday at the OSU Ice Rink and admission, as always, is free. The game Saturday is Senior Day.

The Buckeyes (14-14-2, 8-14-2-2) are returning to the ice after dropping two close games againt No. 8 North Dakota last weekend in Columbus. The Bulldogs (16-7-3, 14-7-3-0) claimed six points last weekend at Minnesota State with 7-0 and 3-0 victories over the Mavericks.

BUCKEYES IN A NUTSHELL
Ohio State is averaging 3.00 goals per game while allowing an average of 3.13. The Buckeye special teams are operating at 18.0 percent on the power play (123-of-128) and 82.0 percent on the penalty kill (91-of-111). Leading the Buckeyes in points and assists is Laura McIntosh, with 43 and 33, respectively. Natalie Spooner has scored a team-high 24 goals, including 10 on the power play, and has 35 points. Hokey Langan is second in assists and goals and third in points with a 13-17-30 line. Patrolling the OSU net is freshman Lisa Steffes, who is 14-14-2 with a 3.01 GAA and .907 save percentage.

LAST TIME OUT: NO. 8/8 NORTH DAKOTA
Ohio State returned to Columbus after claiming its second-consecutive road series to host No. 8 North Dakota Feb. 4-5 at the OSU Ice Rink. Although the Fighting Sioux claimed all six points in the WCHA series, the Buckeyes competed hard on both ends of the ice as both games were decided by just one goal. 

In game one, Ohio State lost, 4-3, with nine seconds remaining in overtime vs. UND. After the Sioux took a 2-0 advantage, the Buckeyes began their rally, scoring three times with Laura McIntosh, Kelly Wild and Shannon Reilly claiming goals. In game two, the Buckeyes fell, 3-2, against North Dakota. Paige Semenza tallied a goal and an assist, while Kim Theut scored the second OSU goal. Also picking up an assist were McIntosh, Wild and Becky Allis.

North Dakota Series Notes:

  • Junior forward Laura McIntosh posted three points with a goal and two assists vs. the Fighting Sioux. McIntosh has claimed multiple points in 10 of the Buckeyes’ 13 series in 2011.
  • Sophomore forward Paige Semenza and junior defenseman Kelly Wid each had a goal and an assist in the UND series.
  • Ohio State outshot the Fighting Sioux in both games. In game one, the Buckeyes had a 42-37 advantage on shots and a 32-31 mark in game two.
  • Freshman goalie Lisa Steffes recorded 30-plus saves in both games and now has had 16 games in her rookie season with at least 30 saves.

BIG MAC
With two assists against North Dakota Feb. 4-5, junior forward Laura McIntosh now has 96 career assists, which is the most by a Buckeye in program history. She passed former Buckeye Jana Harrigan (2003-06) for first all-time during the sweep of St. Cloud State Jan. 28-29. The native of Waterloo, Ontario, broke the record on her first assist in game two on a Natalie Spooner power-play goal at 6:10 in the second period.  Currently with 33 helpers this year, McIntosh has had back-to-back seasons with at least 30 assists. She is six assists shy of breaking Harrigan’s single-season assist record of 38 set during the 2004-05 campaign.

SPOONER NAMED OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Junior forward Natalie Spooner was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week Feb. 2 after tallying six points with four goals and two assists in the two victories at St. Cloud State Jan. 28-29. The award is her first of the season and sixth WCHA weekly award of her career.

The native of Scarborough, Ontario, recorded her third-career hat trick as well as an assist in game one to help the Buckeyes win, 6-1. In the second game, Spooner continued her offensive momentum, tallying a goal and an assist as Ohio State claimed the sweep with a 3-2 victory.   

Spooner leads the Buckeyes with 14 multi-point games this season and a team-high 24 goals. She is now only two goals away from second place on the Ohio State career goals category. Spooner also owns the Buckeye record for career game-winning goals with 12 and stands sixth in career points with 109.

SELECT COMPANY
Natalie Spooner entered elite company Jan. 21-22. After netting her 20th goal of the year, she is only the second Buckeye to have three 20-goal seasons in her career, joining Jeni Creary (2002-05). The Scarborough, Ontario, native has eight multiple-goal performances and has tallied two or more points 14 times this year in 21 games played. Of her team-leading 24 goals, 10 have been scored on the power play and four are gamewinners.

THE DISH ON SPOONER
Natalie Spooner stands in third in the Ohio State career goals category with 67 and is only two away from second place. She also owns the Buckeye record for career game-winning goals with 12 and stands sixth in career points with 109.

A LOOK AT MINNESOTA DULUTH
The Bulldogs, fourth in the WCHA standings with 45 points, have won their last four games. Minnesota Duluth swept Minnesota State Feb. 4-5 in Mankato winning by scores of 7-0 and 3-0. The Bulldogs rank in the Top 10 nationally in several categories, including fifth in scoring defense (1.77), sixth in scoring offense (3.62), seventh in scoring margin (1.85) and 10th in power play (18.5 percent; 23-of-124) and penalty kill (87.2 percent; 95-of-109).

Minnesota Duluth is led by Haley Irwin and Elin Holmlov, who have 37 and 35 points, respectively. Brienna Gillanders is tied for first in the conference with Natalie Spooner for power play goals with seven in WCHA play. Between the pipes for the Bulldogs is senior goalie Kim Martin who is fourth in the nation in save percentage (.942) and has the sixth-best goals against average with a 1.48 in 2011.

BUCKEYES VS. BULLDOGS
Minnesota Duluth leads the all-time series against Ohio State with a 42-5-4 record, but two of the five victories have come in the last three meetings.

In just six games against UMD, sophomore forward Hokey Langan totaled 12 points on four goals and eight assists. Junior forward Laura McIntosh has 14 points (3 g, 11a) and Natalie Spooner has  10 points (8g, 2a) in 10 meetings with the Bulldogs.

WHEN LAST WE MET
Earlier this season, the Buckeyes split a series with the Bulldogs Nov. 19-20 in Duluth. In game one, Natalie Spooner tallied two goals to help the Scarlet and Gray win 4-2, giving the defending NCAA champions their first home loss of the season. Freshman goalie Lisa Steffes collected 31 saves, including all 13 shots faced in the final period.

The win vs. the Bulldogs was the first time Ohio State won back-to-back games against Minnesota Duluth in 50 meetings.  The Buckeyes handed UMD its last loss of the 2009-10 season before they won the NCAA championship. In game two, Steffes became just the third Buckeye to make 50 or more saves in a game, but Ohio State fell, 8-0, at the DECC in Duluth.

REILLY RETURNS TO FORM
After 24 points as a freshman and 19 as a sophomore, Shannon Reilly had a tough season last year with only 11. However, the Chanhassen, Minn., native has found the scoring touch once again this season. She is tied for first in the WCHA overall in defenseman scoring with 22 points and is 10th in the NCAA with 0.73 points per game.
 Reilly ranks fourth on the Buckeyes with 14 assists and has a personal-high for goals with eight.

STEFFES STEPS UP
Rookie goaltender Lisa Steffes has made 30-plus saves in 16 games and has five games with over 40 saves. The Amherstburg, Ontario, native leads the NCAA with 875 saves this season and is the only goalie in the nation with over 850 saves. She also leads in the NCAA in minutes played at 1794:37.

FRESHMAN SUCCESS
Freshman Ally Tarr has been a factor in the Buckeyes offense as of late. The forward from London, Ontario, scored the gamewinning goal in the final minute vs. the Huskies Jan. 29 to give her team a 3-2 victory and the series sweep. In game one, Tarr recorded her first-career multi-goal performance with two in the Buckeyes 6-1 victoy. Her 12 points this season lead all Buckeye freshmen in scoring, with six points in the last six games.

ANGER MANAGEMENT
This season, the Buckeyes have had limited minutes in the penalty box with an average of only 8.8 penalty minutes per game – good for 26th in the nation and the second-lowest average in the WCHA overall. Ohio State has drawn four or fewer penalties in 18 of its games so far this season.

The average is a stark contrast to the last four seasons when the Buckeyes have placed in the top 10 in the NCAA in PIM, peaking at 15.3 in 2006-07 and with an average of 13.8 in that span.

NOTEWORTHY

  • Laura McIntosh tied the Ohio State record for points in a game with five points (3g, 2a) Oct. 16 vs. St. Cloud State. She is just the fifth Buckeye to reach that mark.
  • Ohio State was 4-of-7 on the power play Oct. 22 at Wisconsin. The last time the Buckeyes scored four power play goals in a game was Oct. 6, 2006 vs. Northeastern (4-of-4).
  • Lisa Steffes made 44 and 43 saves at Wisconsin (Oct. 22-23) for the first time in the 12-year history of the program an OSU netminder had back-to-back games with 40-plus saves.
  • In the second game at Minnesota Duluth (Nov. 20), Steffes became only the third OSU goalie to reach the 50-save milestone and was only four shy of tying the record.
  • The 4-2 victory at Minnesota Duluth Nov. 19, combined with a 6-3 win in their last meeting of 2009-10, gave Ohio State back-to-back wins against the Bulldogs for the first time in 50 meetings.
  • The rescheduled game Dec. 11 to the 12th at Minnesota because of a snow storm in the Twin Cities was the first time Ohio State had a game postponed in program history.
  • The Buckeyes finished with a 6-0-0 mark in non-conference action, all against teams from College Hockey America: Robert Morris, Syracuse and Wayne State.

UP NEXT
Ohio State concludes the 2011 regular season in a WCHA series at Bemidji State Feb. 18-19 with both games starting at 2 p.m. CT.