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Ohio State BUCKEYES (10-10-2, 4-10-2-2 WCHA) at
Minnesota State MAVERICKS (6-13-3, 5-10-1-0 WCHA)
Friday, Jan. 14 – 7 p.m. (CT)  •  Saturday, Jan. 15 – 3 p.m. (CT)
All Seasons Arena  •  Mankato, Minn.

Live video/audio: MSUMavericks.com
Live stats: MSUMavericks.com
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s hockey team hits the road for the first time in 2011, traveling to Mankato, Minn., to face Minnesota State in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series Jan. 14-15. Games begin at 7 p.m. (CT) Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday at All Seasons Arena, with live video, audio and stats available on MSUMavericks.com.

The Buckeyes (10-10-2, 4-10-2-2 WCHA) return point leader Laura McIntosh and top goal-scorer Natalie Spooner, along with freshman defenseman Annie Svedin, who missed games the last two weekends while competing in the MLP Cup. Ohio State dropped both games to top-ranked Wisconsin in a home series last week. Minnesota State (6-13-3, 5-10-1-0 WCHA) also had a tough go last time out, falling twice to No. 7 Minnesota, 4-0 and 5-1.

BUCKEYES IN A NUTSHELL
Ohio State is averaging 3.05 goals per game while allowing 3.09, for a slightly negative scoring margin after last weekend. Not surprisingly, the Buckeyes are 10-2-2 when allowing three or fewer goals and 7-1-0 when scoring four or more. OSU’s special teams are operating at 18.7 percent on power play (17-of-91) and 83.5 percent on penalty kill (66-of-79).

Leading the Buckeyes in points and assists is Laura McIntosh, with 31 and 23, respectively. Natalie Spooner has scored a team-high 17 goals, including six on the power play, and has 24 points. Hokey Langan is second in points, goals and assists with a 13-16-29 line. Patrolling the OSU net is freshman Lisa Steffes, who is 10-10-2 with a 2.97 GAA and .909 save percentage.

LAST TIME OUT: No. 1 WISCONSIN
Then 10th-ranked Ohio State dropped both games in a home series against No. 1 Wisconsin, Jan. 7-8 at the OSU Ice Rink. In the first game, just when the Buckeyes should have been at their toughest point of the game, trailing 6-0 and killing off a 5-minute penalty, they buckled down and not only held top-ranked Wisconsin scoreless on the power play but scored two shorthanded goals.

On Saturday, Ohio State scored twice to tie the game, including at 3-3 early in the third period, but the Badgers regained the lead and then tacked on an empty-netter for the 5-3 win. Ohio State was inches away from overtime when, down a goal with under a minute left and an extra skater on the ice, a slap shot by defenseman Kelly Wild pinged off the crossbar. It was a back-and-forth game throughout-freshman Lisa Steffes stood on her head and made several outstanding saves, finishing with 42 overall. On the other end of the ice, junior Melissa Feste tied her career high with two goals.

Badger Series Notes:

  • The Buckeyes conclude their season series with Wisconsin at 0-4-0.
  • The two shorthanded goals scored Friday were Ohio State’s first of the season. They also were the first career SHG scored by sophomores Paige Semenza and Hokey Langan.
  • Melissa Feste entered the second game with one goal this season. It was her third two-goal game in her career and first since last January vs. Robert Morris.
  • Minttu Tuominen led the Buckeyes with six blocked shots in the UW series. Ohio State blocked a total of 35 shots in the two games.

A LOOK AT MINNESOTA STATE
Minnesota State swept Ohio State by scores of 5-3 and 4-3 in their meeting in Columbus, Nov. 12-13, but have struggled since with an 0-8-2 record following that weekend. The Mavericks are 6-13-3 overall, but have a 4-5-3 record in Mankato. MSU (5-10-1-0) and the Buckeyes (4-10-2-2) are tied for sixth in the WCHA standings with 16 points apiece.

Freshman Kathleen Rogan leads the Mavericks in goals (10) and points (17) and is tied for second in assists (7). She is tied with senior Nina Tikkinen in assists, who ranks second in points with 12. Sophomore Lauren Smith has a team-best eight assists and is third in points with 11. Junior Alli Altmann has played the majority of minutes in net with a 3-11-2 record, 2.93 GAA and .897 save percentage.

BUCKEYES VS. MAVERICKS
Ohio State leads the all-time series with Minnesota State, 37-9-4, and has a 17-3-2 record for games in Mankato, however the Mavericks have swept three of the last seven series.

Three Buckeyes are averaging about two points per game in the MSU series – Laura McIntosh has 20 (6g, 14a) in 10 games, Natalie Spooner has 16 points (10g, 6a) in eight games and Hokey Langan has 13 points (9g, 4a) in six games. The Buckeyes were without Spooner, Minttu Tuominen and Annie Svedin for the November series against the Mavericks as they were competing in the 2010 Four Nations Cup with their respective national teams.

WHEN LAST WE MET
The then-No. 9 Buckeyes dropped both games in a home series against Minnesota State, Nov. 12-13. Sophomore forward Hokey Langan scored twice for the Buckeyes, but Minnesota State rallied with three goals in the third period to pull away for the 5-3 victory in the Friday game.

Ohio State then lost 4-3 Saturday. Down 3-0 after the first, the Buckeyes chipped away at the score over the next two periods to tie before MSU scored the gamewinner with less than four minutes left. Langan again scored twice in the second game for four goals against the Mavericks. Laura McIntosh set up all four of Langan’s goals in the series.

MLP CUP RECAP
The three Buckeyes who traveled to Switzerland for the 2011 MLP Cup couldn’t have set it up any better. Junior forwards Natalie Spooner and Laura McIntosh on the Canadian Under-22 Team faced off against freshman defenseman Annie Svedin and the Swedish National Team in the championship game last Saturday.

Canada defeated Sweden for the championship title, 6-0, and concluded the four-game tournament without allowing a goal. The gold was the second for Spooner at an MLP Cup and third medal overall from the tournament after silver in 2009. Both McIntosh and Svedin earned their first MLP Cup hardware.

Spooner, from Scarborough, Ontario, finished with four points on two goals and two assists. Waterloo, Ontario, native McIntosh had a goal and two assists. Svedin, from Soraker and making her third appearance on the Swedish National Team, scored twice for two points.

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 leads the WCHA overall in defenseman scoring with 16 points and tied for 11th in the NCAA with 0.73 points per game.

Last weekend against Wisconsin, Reilly set up the second and third Buckeye goals in game two for her second multiple-assist game of the year. She ranks third on the Buckeyes with 11 assists and is one goal away from tying her season-high.

LEADING THE WAY
Rookie goaltender Lisa Steffes totaled 73 saves in the Wisconsin series (31 Friday and 42 Saturday). She has made 30-plus saves in 12 games and has five games with over 40 saves. The Amherstburg, Ontario, native leads the NCAA with 659 saves this season and is one of only three goalies in the nation with over 600 saves. She also leads in the NCAA in minutes played at 1334:50.

ANOTHER SECOND-HALF SURGE?
Sophomore Paige Semenza likes the second-half schedule. The forward from Pittston, Pa., earned the team’s Most Improved Player award last season after tallying 11 points in the last 19 games of the year (she had just two in the first 15 games).

Semenza is on the same track this season with three goals and four points overall in the first two series of 2011. She had five points the first 18 games of the season.

THE DISH ON SPOONER
Junior forward Natalie Spooner is only two points away from her 100th, with 60 goals and 38 assists in 80 career games. The Scarborough, Ontario, native has six multiple-goal performances, including one against Wayne State Dec. 30, and has tallied two or more points 10 times this year in 15 games played.

NOTEWORTHY

  • Laura McIntosh tied the Ohio State record for points in a game with five points (3g, 2a), Oct. 16 vs. St. Cloud State. She is just the fifth Buckeye to reach that mark.
  • Ohio State was 4-of-7 on the power play Oct. 22 at Wisconsin. The last time the Buckeyes scored four power play goals in a game was Oct. 6, 2006 vs. Northeastern (4-of-4).
  • Lisa Steffes made 44 and 43 saves at Wisconsin (Oct. 22-23) for the first time in the 12-year history of the program an OSU netminder had back-to-back games with 40-plus saves.
  • In the second game at Minnesota Duluth (Nov. 20), Steffes became only the third OSU goalie to reach the 50-save milestone and was only four shy of tying the record.
  • The 4-2 victory at Minnesota Duluth Nov. 19, combined with a 6-3 win in their last meeting of 2009-10, gave Ohio State back-to-back wins against the Bulldogs for the first time in 50 meetings.
  • The rescheduled game Dec. 11 to the 12th at Minnesota because of a snow storm in the Twin Cities was the first time Ohio State had a game postponed in program history.
  • The Buckeyes finished with a 6-0-0 mark in non-conference action, all against teams from College Hockey America: Robert Morris, Syracuse and Wayne State.

UP NEXT
Ohio State returns home for a series against No. 7 Minnesota, Jan. 21-22. Games begin at 7 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday at the OSU Ice Rink and admission, as always, is free.