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Ohio State BUCKEYES (14-10-2, 8-10-2-2 WCHA) vs.
#8 North Dakota FIGHTING SIOUX (15-8-3, 13-7-2-0 WCHA)
Friday, Feb. 4 – 7 p.m. •  Saturday, Feb, 5 – 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 – After claiming its second-consecutive road series sweep last weekend, the Ohio State women’s hockey team returns home to host No. 8 North Dakota 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 Buckeyes (14-12-2, 8-12-2-2) are returning to the ice after garnering 6-1 and 3-2 victories at St. Cloud State Jan. 28-29. The Fighting Sioux (15-8-3, 13-7-2-0) had an eight-game unbeaten streak snapped last time out on their home ice Jan. 29 with a 5-3 loss against Minnesota State, but split the series after winning game one, 6-1.

BUCKEYES IN A NUTSHELL
Ohio State is averaging 3.04 goals per game while allowing an average of 3.11. The Buckeye special teams are operating at 18.6 percent on the power play (22-of-118) and 82.4 percent on the penalty kill (82-of-102).

Leading the Buckeyes in points and assists is Laura McIntosh, with 41 and 31, 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 14-12-2 with a 2.98 GAA and .907 save percentage.

LAST TIME OUT: ST. CLOUD STATE
Ohio State closed out the month of January with a sweep of St. Cloud State Jan. 28-29, winning game one, 6-1, and game two, 3-2, at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minn.

In the first game, junior assistant captains Natalie Spooner and Laura McIntosh each had four points. Spooner tallied her third-career hat trick, while McIntosh recorded a season-high four assists against the Huskies. In all, five Buckeyes had multi-point performances. Freshman forward Ally Tarr had her first-career two-goal performance, junior defenseman Kelly Wild collected a career-high three assists and sophomore forward Tina Hollowell collected two assists. Shannon Reilly opened the scoring for Ohio State in the first period with a power play goal.

In game two, the Buckeyes won in the final minute of regulation when Tarr scored her first career game-winning goal at 19:09 in the third period with assists from McIntosh and Reilly. Ohio State jumped out to a 2-0 lead after sophomore forward Minttu Tuominen posted a goal in the opening period and Spooner added another in the second.

St. Cloud State Series Notes:

  • Junior forward Laura McIntosh posted six assists in the series sweep to move to first on the Ohio State all-time career assists list with 94 helpers.
  • Junior forward Natalie Spooner tallied six points, including her third-career hat trick and first this season. With two multi-point performances, she now has a team-high14 multi-point performances in 2011.
  • Freshman forward Ally Tarr recorded her first-career game-winning goal in the Buckeyes’ 3-2 victory to complete the sweep. She posted her first career two-goal performance in game one.
  • Junior defenseman Kelly Wild had her first-career three-assist performance in game one. She is fifth in defenseman scoring in the conference with 16 points this season.

BIG MAC
With six assists against St. Cloud State, junior forward Laura McIntosh became Ohio State’s all-time career assists leader with 94, passing former Buckeye Jana Harrigan (2003-06) who totaled 92 assists in her four-year career.

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 31 helpers this year, McIntosh has had back-to-back seasons with at least 30 assists. She is eight 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 forwardNatalie Spooner was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week Wednesday 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
After her four goals last weekend, 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 NORTH DAKOTA
North Dakota suffered its first loss of 2011 after dropping a 5-3 contest to Minnesota State Jan. 29 in Grand Forks. The loss vs. the Mavericks snapped a program-record eight-game unbeaten streak. Currently third in the WCHA standings, the Sioux are led offensively  by the identical twin duo of Jocelyne Lamoureux and Monique Lamoureux-Kolls, who have 43 and 41 points, respectively, this season. North Dakota is tied for sixth in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 3.50 goals per game.

Defensively, junior goalie Stephanie Ney is third in the conference in goals-against average (1.85) and save percentage (.930).

THE SERIES VS. THE SIOUX
Ohio State leads the all-time series against North Dakota, 17-6-3, but it has been a closer story as of late. The Buckeyes and Sioux split their series last season with each team taking a win on the road. Ohio State has a slight edge at 6-5-1 in the last 12 games vs. North Dakota. Earlier this season, the Buckeyes fell in overtime, 3-2, in game one in Grand Forks, but held on for a tie in overtime in game two and went on to win the shootout, 2-0.

Leading the Buckeyes in the series are Laura McIntosh with 11 points (4g, 7a) in 10 games and Natalie Spooner with eight points (5g, 3a) in six games.

WHEN LAST WE MET
The Buckeyes traveled to Grand Forks to begin the month of November to face the Fighting Siuox. In game one, Ohio State suffered a tough 3-2 overtime loss. Paige Semenza evened the score to 1-1 late in the first period, while Ally Tarr tied the game up again at 2-2 in the second.

In game two, the Buckeyes held on to to a 2-2 tie in overtime and went on to  take their first shootout win of the season, 2-0. Christina Mancuso tallied the first Buckeye goal of the game in the second period, while Shannon Reilly gave Ohio State a 2-1 lead in the third. The Buckeyes survived two penalties in the extra session to make it to the shootout. Laura McIntosh and Tarr scored on Ohio State’s first two attempts, while Lisa Steffes stonewalled the Sioux on the other end of the ice to pick up two points in the WCHA standings.

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 first in the WCHA overall in defenseman scoring with 21 points and is eighth in the NCAA with 0.75 points per game.

Reilly ranks third on the Buckeyes with 14 assists and has a personal-high for goals with seven.

STEFFES STEPS UP
Rookie goaltender Lisa Steffes has made 30-plus saves in 14 games and has five games with over 40 saves. The Amherstburg, Ontario, native leads the NCAA with 814 saves this season and is the only goalie in the nation with over 800 saves. She also leads in the NCAA in minutes played at 1670:36.

FRESHMAN SUCCESS
Freshman Ally Tarr is coming off a big offensive weekend for the Buckeyes. The forward from London, Ontario, scored the gamewinning goal in the final minute vs. the Huskies Jan. 29 to give her team 3-2 victory and the series sweep. In game one, Tarr recorded her first-career multi-goal performance with two. Her 11 points this season lead all Buckeye freshmen in scoring, with five points in the last four 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 27th in the nation and the second-lowest average in the WCHA overall. Ohio State has drawn four or fewer penalties in 17 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.

UP NEXT
Ohio State finishes the home schedule next weekend, hosting Minnesota Duluth Feb. 11-12. Games begin at 7 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday at the OSU Ice Rink. Saturday’s game will be Senior Day.