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May 1, 2001

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State freshmen R.J. Umberger (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Dave Steckel (West Bend, Wis.) are ranked in the Top 16 among North American forwards and defensemen in the National Hockey League’s Central Scouting final rankings of prospects for the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.

Umberger, who was ranked fourth in the CSS’s mid-season rankings, now holds the No. 5 spot. Steckel has moved to No. 16 in the final rankings from No. 25 at mid-season. Umberger is the second-highest rated collegian and American-born player. Steckel is the third-highest U.S. collegiate prospect and the fourth-highest U.S.-born skater. In the rankings for the first round of the draft (Top 30), there are five U.S. collegiate and six U.S.-born players.

Umberger, the 2001 CCHA Rookie of the Year and a CCHA All-Rookie Team honoree, led the Buckeyes in points (37) and assists (23) and was third in goals (14) this season. He placed second among conference freshmen in scoring and tied for seventh in the league with 18 assists in conference games. He earned CCHA Rookie of the Week honors Feb. 4 after posting five points, including a career and team high four points (1-3) in the second game, in OSU’s home series with Notre Dame. Umberger was named to the U.S. Junior National Team that finished fifth in the World Junior Championships in Russia. He scored two goals in the U.S.’s win over Slovakia and also posted two assists in the tournament.

Steckel, a member of the 2001 CCHA All-Rookie Team, was a two-time CCHA Rookie of the Week. He ended the season second on the team in points (35) and ranked first in goals (17), plus/minus (+10), shooting percentage (22.7), penalties (32) and penalty minutes (80). He was third among league rookies in scoring and tied for 12th in the CCHA in scoring in league games (15-13-28). Steckel also competed in the World Junior Championships as a member of the U.S. Junior National Team. The NHL Entry Draft will be held June 23-24 at National Car Rental Center in Sunrise, Fla. Teams can choose North American players born between Jan. 1, 1981 and Sept. 15, 1983 and non-North American players who are 18 year of age or older by Sept. 15, 2001.

The NHL Central Scouting list features the Top 180 skaters in North America, Top 30 North American goaltenders, as well as the Top 129 European players and Top 7 European goaltenders. The complete list is available on-line at www.NHL.com/futures.

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