COLUMBUS, Ohio – Following the conclusion of the November signing period, 11 outstanding hockey players have committed to join the Ohio State men’s hockey program, first-year head coach Mark Osiecki announced Friday. The class, which will begin playing for the Buckeyes in Fall 2011, includes two goalies – Brady Hjelle (Cedar Rapids/USHL) and Matt Skoff (Sioux City/USHL), defensemen Clark Cristofoli (Sioux Falls/USHL), Justin DaSilva (Powell River/BCHL), Ben Gallacher (Camrose/AJHL), Sam Jardine (Camrose/AJHL) and Alex McLean (Omaha/USHL) and forwards Ryan Dzingel (Lincoln/USHL), Max McCormick (Sioux City/USHL), Tanner Fritz (Grand Prairie/AJHL) and Chad Niddery (Powell River/BCHL).
“The common trait among these players is they eat, breathe and live hockey,” Osiecki said. “They all bring phenomenal character and are outstanding students. They will be the foundation of what we are working to accomplish with the Ohio State hockey program.”
In all, the class is comprised of six players from the United States Hockey League, three from the Alberta Junior Hockey League and two from the British Columbia Hockey League. The group is a mix of older (1990, ‘91 birthdates) players to younger, draft-eligible student-athletes (1992,’93 birthdates). Dzingel and McCormick just won gold medals for the U.S. Junior Select Team at the World Junior A Challenge earlier this month, while Gallacher and Jardine competed for Canada West in the tournament. Fritz competed with Canada West in the prestigious tourney in both 2008 and ’09 and was selected in 2010 but opted to take care of his schooling. Hjelle skated for Team USA at the 2007 event.
Clark Cristofoli Defense, 5-9, 175, 9/10/92 Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)/Lewis Center, Ohio Will come into Ohio State as a true freshman after two years in the USHL, graduating high school this year … has strong skating ability … very high compete level … skated in 46 games for Sioux Falls last year, with nine points (2g, 7a) and a +4 mark … has played in eight games to open 2010-11, recording two assists … first player to commit to Ohio State after playing for the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets AAA team … draft eligible.
Justin DaSilva Defense, 6-5, 215, 5/22/90 Powell River Kings (BCHL)/Cambridge, Ontario) Size and skating ability could help him develop into an NHL defenseman … makes plays under pressure and a tough player … in his second year with the Powell River Kings … 34 points a year ago, with 10 goals and 24 assists, in 50 regular-season games; also had 93 penalty minutes … 26 points through 23 games in 2010-11, including 21 assists and three game-winning goals … skated two seasons with Brampton in the OJHL; had 4-19-23 line in 2007-08 and 8-25-33 totals in 2008-09.
Ryan Dzingel Forward, 6-0, 185, 3/9/92 Lincoln Stars (USHL)/Wheaton, Ill. Very talented and skilled forward … has great hand-eye coordination … outstanding baseball player who was being recruited by Division I programs … member of U.S. Junior Select Team that just won goal at the World Junior A Challenge in Penticton, British Columbia, skating on a line with Buckeye recruit Max McCormick; had three assists in the tournament … played in 36 games with Lincoln last year, joining the team full time for the second half of the year, with 26 points on 11 goals and 15 assists … has 15 points in eight games with the Stars so far in 2010-11 and was leading the league in points before leaving for the select tournament … skated for Team Illinois.
Tanner Fritz Forward, 5-11, 185, 8/20/91 Grand Prairie Storm (AJHL)/Grand Prairie, Alberta Experienced player, playing four years in the Albert Junior Hockey League … has consistently put up numbers… will help the Buckeyes offensively … has 33 points through the first 26 games of this season, including 16 goals (four gamewinners) and 17 assists; serving as team captain … averaged a point a game in 2009-10, with 54 points (27 goals, 27 assists) in 54 games; seven of his goals were gamewinners … registered 43 points, on 19 goals and 24 assists, while skating in 57 games in 2008-09 as the Storm won the AJHL title … had eight points in 28 games his first year with the squad … played for Canada West in the World Junior A Championship in both 2008 and ’09; was invited to play in the 2010 event but opted to remain in Grand Prairie and take care of his schooling … won the Storm’s two-way player award in 2009 and ‘10.
Ben Gallacher Defense, 5-11, 183, 9/11/92 Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL)/Calgary, Alberta A two-way defenseman who can provide offense and is positionally sound … drafted by the Florida Panthers in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, #93 overall … played for Canada West in the 2010 World Junior A Championship, with a goal and an assist in five games … in his third year with Camrose … leads Kodiaks’ defensemen in scoring with 16 points, on four goals and 12 assists, through 18 games … played in 34 games a year ago, with 3-19-22 line … skated in 43 contests in 2008-09, his first year with Camrose, posting 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists).
Brady Hjelle Goalie, 5-10, 181, 5/3/90 Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL)/International Falls, Minn. From ‘small-town USA’; International Falls refers to itself as the “Icebox of the Nation” … comes in college-proven and has faced many of the top collegiate teams after spending two seasons at Minnesota-Duluth of the WCHA, where he played for Ohio State associate head coach Steve Rohlik … played in 21 games for the UMD Bulldogs, with a 2.75 goals-against average and .901 save percentage, along with a 10-7-1 ledger … playing for Cedar Rapids this season, with a 9-1 ledger in 10 games, along with a 1.99 gaa and .922 svpct … first played for the RoughRiders in 2007-08 and was 22-15-4, posting a 2.50 goals-against and .921 save percentage, and earning a spot in the USHL Prospects/All-Star Game .. won a bronze medal with Team USA at 2007 World Junior A Challenge.
Sam Jardine Defense, 6-0, 185, 8/12/93 Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL)/Lacombe, Albert An offensive defenseman who has shown a lot of potential and is a true student of the game of hockey … in his first year of junior hockey … has played in 19 games for the Kodiaks and has 10 points, including eight assists … skated for Canada West in the 2010 World Junior A Championship; played in five games and had an assist … played in three games for the Kodiaks in 2009-10 … skated for Red Deer Midget AAA prior to joining the Kodiaks … draft eligible and listed by NHL Central Scouting as a Player to Watch.
Max McCormick Forward, 5-11, 175, 5/1/92 Sioux City (USHL)/De Pere, Wis. High-end player who has all the makings of a great leader and team captain … cut out of the same mold of former Buckeye captain Nate Guenin … skated for U.S. Junior Select Team that just won gold at the World Junior A Challenge in Penticton, British Columbia, playing on a line with Buckeye recruit Ryan Dzingel; three points, on a goal and two assists, in tourney … in his first season with the Sioux City Musketeers and has 10 points, with four goals and six assists, in his first nine games … played for Green Bay (Wis.) Notre Dame Academy and was named Wisconsin’s ‘Mr. Hockey’; had 71 points in 27 regular-season games … the Tritons lost 4-3 in the state semifinals, with McCormick scoring all three goals … draft eligible.
Alex McLean Defense, 6-2, 183, 11/6/90 Omaha Lancers (USHL)/Duluth, Minn. Athletic and a high-end skater … can provide support offensively … big defenseman with good stick skills … in his first year with Omaha and has three assists in 12 games … played for the Wenatchee Wild of the North American Hockey League in 2009-10 and had 20 points (4 goals, 16 assists) in 51 games and was +19 … played for Duluth East High School, which advanced to the Minnesota Class AA state tournament.
Chad Niddery Forward, 5-10, 165, 10/5/90 Powell River Kings (BCHL)/Penticton, British Columbia High-energy player who can make any line better … a ‘rink rat’ … in his fourth year with the Powell River Kings … has 36 points in 24 games this season, with 10 goals and 26 assists … played in 56 games a season ago, recording 66 points, including 50 assists … in 2008-09 registered 20-30-50 line while playing in 60 games … played in 40 games his first year with the squad and had 18 points, including six goals.
Matt Skoff Goal, 6-0, 186, 7/23/91 Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)/McKees Rocks, Pa. Continually gets better … competes and is a fighter … in his second year with Sioux City … played in 50 games in 2009-10 and was 21-19-9 with a 2.59 goals-against average and .903 save percentage … has skated in seven games this season and is 4-3 with two shutouts, along with a 2.85 gaa and .904 svpct … played for Montour High School in the Pittsburgh area; squad reached the 2009 PHIL Class AA Penguins Cup final … coached by former Michigan Tech and pro goalie Cam Ellsworth with the Musketeers.