Feb. 25, 2003
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The No. 14/15-ranked Ohio State men’s hockey team (21-9-3, 15-7-2/3rd CCHA) travels to Marquette, Mich., to face Northern Michigan (16-14-2, 12-11-1/t-5th CCHA) this weekend. The Buckeyes and Wildcats will face off at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Feb. 28 and March 1) at Berry Events Center.
The games this weekend will be broadcast by WOSU Radio (820 AM) and online at wosu.org with Herb Howenstine (play-by-play) and former Buckeye John Mowat (color) calling the action.
STAYING AT HOME
The Buckeyes will play host to a first-round CCHA playoff series this season. The squad, currently in third place in the CCHA, has clinched over five teams (Miami, UAF, UNO, BGSU and LSSU). Three other teams (NMU, WMU and ND) could catch the Buckeyes in the final standings by winning out. However, the Irish will face both the Broncos and Wildcats, making it impossible for all three teams to get the eight points needed to overtake OSU.
WHERE THEY’LL PLAY
The Buckeyes will play their first two CCHA tournament games at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, home of the NHL’s Columbus BlueJackets, because Value City Arena, the Buckeyes’ home rink, will hold the Ohio high school girls’ basketball championship that weekend. The Buckeyes and their first-round opponent will face off at 7:05 p.m. Friday, March 14 and at 1:05 p.m. Saturday, March 15. If the series needs a third game, it will be held in Value City Arena Sunday, March 16.
AN OSU PRIMER
The Buckeyes hit the road looking to stop a season-high three-game losing streak. The squad was swept by Alaska Fairbanks at home by scores of 4-1 and 5-4. The squad sits in third place in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association with two two-game series remaining.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The Buckeyes are 5-4-2 on the road this season, with all 11 games coming in CCHA play. The squad is 2-0-1 in its last three road games, with a win and tie at Notre Dame and a victory over Miami.
THE SERIES VS. NMU
The series between Ohio State and Northern Michigan is tied, 21-21-3, with the Wildcats leading the series in Marquette, 16-6-2. In the last 10 meetings, OSU leads 6-4-0.
THE LAST MEETING
The Buckeyes swept the Wildcats in Columbus last season when NMU was ranked sixth in the nation. The Buckeyes topped the Wildcats, 3-1, in the opener and shut them out in the series finale, 2-0.
The Buckeyes’ trip to Marquette this weekend marks the squad’s first series there since the beginning of the 2000-01 season. That marked the first collegiate regular-season action for the current juniors on the Buckeye squad.
THE LAST TIME IN THE U.P.
Ohio State and Northern Michigan split the last series in Marquette, with Ohio State winning the first game, 5-3, before the Wildcats salvaged a split with a 5-2 win in the finale.
A LOOK AT THE WILDCATS
Northern Michigan enters the series with Ohio State with an overall record of 16-14-2 and stands in a tie for fifth place in the CCHA with a record of 12-11-1. The squad split its series at Michigan State last weekend, falling in the opener, 7-4, before rebounding with a 4-2 win.
Chris Gobert leads the Wildcats and ranks eighth (tied) in the CCHA with 9-27-36 totals on the year. Mike Stutzel ranks second on the team in points with 33 and third in the CCHA with 22 goals. In net, Craig Kowalski, a Carolina Hurricanes draft pick, has played 29 games, with a goals-against average of 2.76 and a .902 save percentage.
AT THE HELM
Walt Kyle, a 1981 graduate of Northern Michigan, is in his first season at the helm of the Wildcats. He replaced Rick Comley, the only coach in NMU history, who moved on to Michigan State.
TO THE U.P. AND BACK
The trip to Marquette, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, is the Buckeyes’ longest bus trip of the season, a journey of 648 miles each way (1,296 miles roundtrip). The Buckeyes already traveled to the U.P. this season, sweeping Lake Superior State in Sault Ste. Marie Nov. 8-9, 2002.
The loss to Alaska Fairbanks Friday ended Ohio State’s 12-game home winning streak, stopping it one short of the program record of 13 set in the 1969-70 season. The team’s home CCHA unbeaten streak was stopped at 17, as was its 10-game league home winning streak this season.
A QUICK LOOK BACK
The Buckeyes were swept by Alaska Fairbanks at home in Value City Arena last weekend. The first night, the Nanooks jumped out to a 2-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game and never looked back as they posted a 4-1 victory over the Buckeyes. R.J. Umberger scored the lone goal for the Buckeyes with less than three minutes remaining in the game.
In the series finale, the teams went back and forth before UAF’s Tom Herman scored the gamewinner with 20 seconds remaining. Chris Olsgard got OSU on the board just 1:34 into the game, but the Nanooks’ Jordan Hendry tied the score just 15 seconds later. Olsgard added his second goal of the game at the 14:44 mark to send the Buckeyes into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead. Jared Sylvestre tied the game 10:18 into the second period before Umberger regained OSU’s lead at 15:46. Blaine Bablitz tallied a power-play goal with just 45 seconds left in the period to again tie the game. The teams traded goals less than a minute into the third period, by Ryan Campbell and Rod Pelley, but Herman gave UAF the 5-4 win with his goal at 19:40.
Buckeye junior Chris Olsgard scored two goals in the second game vs. UAF for the first multiple-goal game of his career and his first multiple-point game of the season. He has career highs for goals (seven) and points (10) this year.
Junior Reed Whiting played forward against Alaska Fairbanks Saturday, marking his first action as a forward in his OSU career.
Scott May posted an assist vs. UAF Saturday to hit the 30-point mark for the second consecutive season. He has seven goals and a career-best 23 assists this year. His assist was the 50th helper of his career.
OUT OF THE BOX
The Buckeyes had just three penalties for six minutes in each game against Alaska Fairbanks last weekend, the second-lowest total this season. OSU had entered the series averaging 16.84 penalty minutes per game overall and 17.41 PIM per CCHA contest. The squad’s season low was two penalties for four minutes Dec. 13 vs. UNO.
The Buckeyes entered the series vs. UAF allowing just under 2.0 goals per game. The squad surrendered double that to the Nanooks in each game, as UAF scored four goals the first night and five the next. The nine goals allowed in the CCHA series was the most allowed by OSU this season.
The Buckeyes ended play against teams in their CCHA scheduling cluster against Alaska Fairbanks.
The Standings: 1. OSU 12 6 5 1 13 UAF 10 5 2 3 13 3. Miami 10 4 5 2 10 4. UNO 12 3 7 2 8
After posting just one goal in his previous eight games, junior R.J. Umberger had a goal in each game vs. the Nanooks. Umberger has a team and career-best 21 goals, the first time a Buckeye has hit the 20-goal mark since Eric Meloche in 2000. Umberger ranks fourth in the CCHA in goals overall.
All-America candidate Mike Betz is the CCHA’s leader in goals-against average both overall (2.16) and in league games (1.95) and he ranks fifth in the nation in the category. His gaa is a career best.
WHERE HE RANKS
R.J. Umberger now has 121 (53g, 68a) points in his career to tie for 36th all-time at Ohio State. He shares the spot with former teammate Jean-Francois Dufour (1998-01).
FIRST IN A WHILE
Junior All-America and Hobey Baker Award candidate R.J. Umberger has 45 points on the year, the first time a Buckeye has broken the 40-point barrier since Hugo Boisvert posted 51 in 1998-99. Umberger’s 24 assists also are the most since Boisvert’s 27 in 1999.
VOTE FOR R.J. AT VOTEFORHOBEY.COM
The second phase of fan voting for college hockey’s top individual prize, the Hobey Baker Award, started Jan. 20. All athletes receiving at least 25 votes in phase one, including Buckeye junior R.J. Umberger, moved on to the second phase.
This season, Umberger leads the Buckeyes and is second in the CCHA with a career-best 45 points. He is a three-time league offensive player of the week honoree and was named the IHCCA National Player of the Month for December. He leads the CCHA and is second in the nation in game-winning goals with six. He has been held scoreless just five times this season and has 12 points in his last seven games.
Now through March 9, fans may cast one ballot per day for their first, second and third choices online at voteforhobey.com. The fans’ votes, along with ballots from the 60 Division I college hockey head coaches, will determine the Top 10 finalists, with the list announced March 20.
In the final round of balloting (from March 21-31) voters can cast their ballots ranking the Top 10 candidates one through five once a day. The top selection from the fans will join the ballots from the Selection Committee (comprised of college hockey personnel, pro scouts and media) in determining the award winner. The Hobey Hat Trick, the top three finalists, will be announced April 2. The award recipient will be announced in a live telecast from the NCAA Frozen Four in Buffalo, N.Y. Friday, April 11.
The Buckeye penalty killing unit has stopped 32 of its opponents’ last 34 chances (94.1 percent). For the year, the team has stopped 86.9 percent of its opponents’ chances overall and 89.5 of chances in league play to rank second in the CCHA in both categories.
MORE ABOUT BETZ
Mike Betz is tied for second all-time in OSU history with 52 career wins. Betz is just two victories short of the OSU all-time record of 54 set by Bill McKenzie from 1970-72. His 2,420 career saves are seventh all-time in OSU history. Dan Stergiou’s mark of 3,261 ranks first.
OSU’s power play in the last five games: 2/8 vs. WMU 2/7 2/13 at Miami 2/5 2/15 vs. Miami 0/4 2/21 vs. UAF 0/1 2/22 vs. UAF 0/3 Totals 4/20 (20%)
OSU’s penalty killing in the last five games: 2/8 vs. WMU 4/4 2/13 at Miami 5/6 2/15 vs. Miami 4/4 2/21 vs. UAF 1/1 2/22 vs. UAF 2/3 Totals 16/18 (88.9%)
OSU’s streak of games without a hat trick now stands at 107. The squad has not had a player score three goals since Oct. 21, 2000 vs. Niagara. This season, the Buckeyes have had 12 two-goal games, while last year the squad had a player score twice in a game 17 times.
The Buckeyes’ win over Miami Feb. 13 clinched the Ohio Cup for the squad for the first time since the 1999-00 season. OSU was undefeated (4-0-0) in Ohio Cup play during the season, winning two games against both Bowling Green and Miami. The Ohio Cup is awarded annually by the Buckeye Sports Bulletin to the Ohio-based CCHA team with the best record against its instate opponents.
LEADING THE WAY ON THE POWER PLAY
R.J. Umberger ranks first for the Buckeyes in power-play goals (6), assists (13) and points (19). Scott May is second in assists (12) and points (16). May, Ryan Kesler and Dave Steckel are tied for second with four power-play tallies each.
Backstopped by Mike Betz, the OSU defense ranks second in the nation, allowing just 2.12 goals per game (Cornell is the leader at 1.41). The Buckeyes lead the CCHA in team defense both overall (2.12) and in conference play (2.08).
Chris Olsgard scored a shorthanded goal against the RedHawks Feb. 13, giving the Buckeyes five shorthanded goals on the season, with each one scored by a different player (R.J. Umberger, Dave Steckel, Paul Caponigri, JB Bittner have the others). It is the most scored in a season by the squad since the 1999 team tallied six goals while skating a man down.
The win over Western Michigan Feb. 8 gave the Buckeyes 20 victories on the season, the 11th time in program history the squad has hit that mark. It is the fourth time John Markell has led the team to at least 20 wins and the second time he has done it in back-to-back seasons.
Junior defenseman Doug Andress leads the Buckeye defensive corps with 6-14-20 totals this season. In addition, he ranks first for the squad with a career-best +16 rating. The Buckeyes are 13-0-2 when Andress records at least one point this season.
The Buckeyes are 4-3 in one-goal games this year. The squad has a one-goal loss in each of its last two series (1-0 to Miami, 5-4 to UAF).
The Buckeyes are outshooting their opponents by an average of 35.7-24.2 shots on goal per game this year. Leading the way is R.J. Umberger, who ranks second in the CCHA with 164 shots this season. Scott May ranks second for OSU with 110, followed by Doug Andress with 103.
OSU has had 12 games with 40 or more shots on net, including two games (both vs. Bowling Green) with 50 or more shots.
MORE THAN A “BITT” PART
Sophomore JB Bittner has been on a tear recently, posting points in 10 of his last 14 games. During the stretch, he has 6-6-12 totals. Prior to his hot streak, Bittner had been held scoreless in 10 consecutive games.
Sophomore Thomas Welsh saw his first game action of the year against Miami Feb. 15. He had missed the first 30 games of the season after a knee injury over the summer required surgery. Welsh had two shots in his first game back.
BY THE PERIODS
The Buckeyes have outscored their opponents in every period this year. The squad’s best period offensively is the third, when it has tallied 41 times. Defensively, the first stanza is the best, as the Buckeyes have allowed just 16 goals.
STRAYING FROM THE NORM
The Saturday game vs. Alaska Fairbanks was the first time this season the Buckeyes lost after scoring the first goal of the game, dropping them to 17-1-2 in such games this season.
The Buckeyes are 1-1-3 in overtime this year. The squad won in overtime against Western Michigan Feb. 7 but suffered an overtime loss at Ferris State Nov. 23. Ohio State has tied Alaska Fairbanks, Massachusetts and Notre Dame this year.
VS. MICHIGAN – THE STATE
The Buckeyes are 6-2-0 against teams from the state of Michigan so far this year. The squad posted two-game sweeps of Lake Superior State, Michigan State and Western Michigan, but was swept by Ferris State. OSU’s last two regular-season series will be vs. teams from Michigan.
The Buckeyes close out the regular season with a two-game series vs. Michigan at home in Value City Arena next weekend. The squads will face off at 7:05 p.m. Friday, March 7 and at 8:05 p.m. Saturday, March 8.
HEAD COACH JOHN MARKELL
John Markell is entering his eighth full season as the head coach of the Buckeyes. He took over the program with nine games remaining in the 1994-95 season and officially was named head coach May 22, 1995. He has an all-time record of 143-142-26 and is 103-106-22 in the CCHA.
Markell recorded his 100th career win last season with a 4-3 overtime win at Miami Feb. 10. He has led the Buckeyes to the NCAA tournament twice, including a Frozen Four appearance in 1998. He earned CCHA Coach of the Year honors in 1998.
Markell, a native of Cornwall, Ontario, played collegiately at Bowling Green, where he was a three-time First Team All-CCHA honoree. He was named to the CCHA All-Decade Team for the 1970s and was selected to the BGSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.
MARKELL VS. THE WILDCATS
Ohio State John Markell has an all-time record of 8-4-0 against Northern Michigan.