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May. 1, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s hockey team held its annual awards banquet Saturday at The Blackwell in Columbus. The team awards were handed out, while the senior class of JB Bittner, Lee Spector and Thomas Welsh also was honored.

Junior goalie Dave Caruso was voted the Bobby Brown Most Valuable Player by his teammates. Caruso, from Roswell, Ga., set program records for goalie wins in a season (25) and season goals-against average (2.14). An honorable mention All-CCHA and All-USCHO.com selection, he started 38 games for the Buckeyes and was 25-9-4. Caruso also had three assists this season.

Rookie forward Tom Fritsche was voted the George Burke Most Valuable Freshman and also received the Leading Scorer Award. Fritsche, from Parma, Ohio, led OSU with 45 points and 34 assists, as well as a +21 rating. The InsideCollegeHockey.com Freshman of the Year and a CCHA All-Rookie Team selection, he tied for the national lead in points among rookies and tied for the CCHA lead in assists. He posted the most points by a Buckeye freshman since Brian Loney had 55 in 1992, while his assists ranked third for an OSU rookie all-time.

Bittner, from Pittsburgh, Pa., was the recipient of the Joseph W. Smith Best Defensive Player award. Bitter is the eighth forward to be honored with the award and the first since current assistant coach Steve Brent in 1997. Bittner, a two-time team captain, was a finalist for the 2005 CCHA Best Defensive Forward award. He played a major role in the Buckeye penalty kill that ended the season first in the conference and fifth in the nation. He played in all 42 games this season, posting a career-best 14 assists and 24 points. Bittner also received the Scarlet and Gray Award, which is given annually to the most intense competitor, as voted on by the off-ice officials. Bittner, who also won the award in 2003, is the second two-time honoree. The first was Chris Richards (1998 and 1999).

Sophomore forward Matt Beaudoin received the Most Improved Player Award. Beaudoin, from Rock Forest, Quebec, improved his point total 20 points from his freshman season. Beaudoin ended the year with a team-best 23 goals (ranking third in the league) and 34 points. He led the CCHA and tied for second in the nation with 14 power-play goals, tying for fourth in OSU history in a single season. He also had a team-best three shorthanded goals and four gamewinners.

For the second consecutive year, junior Nate Guenin received the Center Ice Club Scholar-Athlete Award. A finance major, he was named the CCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year for Ohio State. He was a second team All-CCHA honoree and a finalist for CCHA Best Defensive Defenseman honors this season after earning honorable mention all-conference accolades last year. Guenin played in 41 games this season, with 2-12-14 totals and a team-high 136 penalty minutes. A two-time alternate team captain, he is a will be honored as an Ohio State Scholar-Athlete and an Academic All-Big Ten selection this year.

The recipient of the Coaches Award was forward Spector. Spector began his career as a walk-on with the team, playing just six games as a freshman. His role increased every season to a high of 38 this year. He played a key part on the nationally-ranked Buckeye penalty kill unit. Four of his nine career goals were gamewinners, including two this past season. Spector, a real estate major, will graduate this year.

The Buckeye Sports Bulletin honored its annual Icers of the Month. The winners were Rod Pelley (October), Fritsche (November and March), Caruso (December and February) and Beaudoin (January).

BSB publisher Frank Moskowitz awarded Ohio State with the Ohio Cup, the traveling trophy sponsored by the BSB and awarded to the Ohio-based CCHA team with the best record against its instate opponents. OSU was 4-0 in Ohio Cup play (against Miami and Bowling Green), winning the trophy for the first time since 2003 and the fifth time in the 24 years of the competition.

The Buckeye seniors – Bittner, Spector and Welsh – each were presented framed jerseys and accepted into the OSU Hockey Alumni organization. The class was the first in program history to be a part of four 20-win seasons and three consecutive NCAA tournament berths. They were a part of a 98-56-13 record, tying the 1986 seniors for the most wins over a four-year period.

As a team, the Buckeyes ended the year 27-11-4. It was the fourth consecutive 20-win season, a first for the program. The squad earned a third-consecutive berth into the NCAA championship, marking the fifth appearance overall and in the last eight years. The 27 wins tied for the second most in program history, behind only the 30 in 1984. OSU was the only squad in the nation to rank in the Top 9 in the NCAA final stats in all six team categories – team offense, team defense, scoring margin, power play, penalty kill and winning percentage.

The Buckeyes were 21-5-2 in CCHA play, making the most league wins since 1983 and ’84, while the conference winning percentage (78.6 percent) was the best in program history. The second-place finish in CCHA play was the highest since 1983 and 84 when the team tied for second place. It was the first outright second-place finish since 1981 and the fourth in program history.