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Buckeyes return to conference tournament semifinal game for the first time since 2007

COLUMBUS, Ohio – After a first round upset of the defending NCAA champion Wisconsin Badgers, the Ohio State women’s hockey team moves on to a semifinal game against third-ranked Minnesota Saturday, March 6 in the WCHA Final Faceoff in Minneapolis. The puck drops at 3 p.m. (CT) at Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.

The Buckeyes (17-14-5) and Golden Gophers (24-7-5) will play in the second semifinal game. The tournament opens with Bemidji State, who pulled off another first round upset, taking on Minnesota Duluth at noon.

The winners of the semifinal games will faceoff Sunday, March 7 at noon.

KEEPING AN EYE ON THINGS
Video:
WCHA.com
Audio: WCHA.com
Livestats: GopherSports.com
Or in-person: Purchase single-game or session tickets through GopherSports.com or 1-800-U-GOPHER
All links also are on the women’s hockey schedule page on OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

HOW’D WE GET HERE?
Ohio State finished the regular season tied for fifth in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings with Bemidji State at 28 points, but had the tiebreaker over BSU at 2-1-1.

The Buckeyes traveled to Wisconsin for a best-of-three series last weekend against the fourth-seed Badgers and came up with two overtime victories to move on to a WCHA Final Faceoff semifinal game for the first time since 2007.

UP FOR GRABS
On the line this weekend is an automatic bid to the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The WCHA, ECAC and Hockey East conferences have automatic bids go to their tournament champions. The other five slots in the NCAA field are picked by a selection committee.

The tournament bracket and regional sites will be announced March 7. After single-elimination games at various sites, the winning teams will advance to the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four, March 19 and 21, also hosted by the University of Minnesota at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.

LAST TIME OUT: #10 WISCONSIN
It took two overtimes, but fifth-seed Ohio State swept fourth-seed Wisconsin in the WCHA First Round Playoffs, Feb. 26-27 at the Eagle’s Nest Arena in Verona, Wis. The Buckeyes won 3-2 the first game and 4-3 the second game.

OSU only had three goal-scorers in the series, with Natalie Spooner scoring all three goals for the hat trick Friday and Hokey Langan tallying a hat trick in regulation Saturday. Raelyn LaRocque scored the OT winner in game two.

Rookie goaltender Chelsea Knapp had a stellar performance in net Friday with 31 saves, then come up with some big stops in a 20-save game Saturday.

WCHA FIRST ROUND SERIES NOTES:
• The fifth-seeded Buckeyes became just the second team to upset a higher-seeded team in the five-year history of the WCHA hosting the best-of-three playoff series. Bemidji State then pulled the third upset Sunday with a victory over St. Cloud State to win the series, 2-1.
• Ohio State defeated the Badgers four times this season (4-2-0). The team had just three total wins over UW in the previous 10 seasons.
• The hat tricks were the second in the careers of both Spooner and Langan. Their first hat tricks both came in four-goal games – Spooner in December 2008 and Langan in January 2010.

BUCKEYES IN A NUTSHELL
Ohio State’s offense is second overall in the WCHA and fifth in the NCAA with 3.28 goals per game. Three players have 40 or more points: Hokey Langan (51), Laura McIntosh (44) and  Natalie Spooner (42). A total of 12 Buckeyes have notched 10 or more points.

Langan leads the team with 25 goals (3 gwg, 7 ppg) and Spooner is second with 21 (5 gwg, 9 ppg). McIntosh leads in assists (34), followed by Langan (26) and Raelyn LaRocque (24).

Rookie Chelsea Knapp has started 34 of 36 games in net with a 15-14-5 record, 3.00 GAA and .894 save percentage.

OHIO STATE VS. MINNESOTA IN POSTSEASON
Ohio State is 1-3 all-time against Minnesota in postseason contests, although the two teams have not met since 2005. All four games have been WCHA semifinals. The lone victory came in 2001 when the Buckeyes upset the Gophers, 4-0, to advance to the championship game where they fell to Minnesota Duluth.

The Buckeyes are 13-17 overall in postseason games.

WELCOME BACK
Freshman forward Minttu Tuominen took little time to savor the Olympic bronze medal she earned with the Finnish National Team. Last Friday she traveled from Vancouver to Chicago, then rode up to Madison to meet the Buckeyes and dress for both games against Wisconsin.

HOKEY LANGAN NETS LEAGUE SCORING TITLE
Freshman Hokey Langan became the first Buckeye to win the league’s scoring title. The Chatham, Ontario native had 43 points in 28 conference games, including tying for first in goals with 21 against league opponents.

TO THE POINT
With 51 points overall this season, Hokey Langan has the second-highest total in Ohio State history. She trails only Ohio State’s all-time leading scorer Jana Harrigan, who had 54 in the 2004-05 season.

Langan’s 25 goals rank fourth and 26 assists tie for eighth in the OSU record books. She has led the NCAA in rookie points per game for most of the season, currently atop the category with 1.42 (good for ninth overall).

WORKING OVERTIME
The Buckeyes have played 10 overtime games of the season, tying their record for OT games set twice before. They are 3-2-5 in extra session games this year.

Five of Ohio State’s 10 overtime games were played in February with the team going 3-1-1 and winning a shootout. The overtime winners have been scored by Raelyn LaRocque, Natalie Spooner and Kim Theut.

ROAD WARRIORS
Ohio States is 9-5-4 away from Columbus this season, including a 5-1-0 record in its last six road contests with the loss coming in overtime to Minnesota Duluth. The Buckeyes have had seven games decided by one goal and have been on the winning side in five of those contests.

One area that has been strong for Ohio State while on the road has been the penalty kill, which is operating at 90.8 percent (89-of-98). Natalie Spooner also has scored 13 of her 21 goals on opposing ice.

OHIO STATE AT OLYMPICS
The Buckeyes had four representatives in the 2010 Winter Olympics with each earning a medal. Turn to page 7 of the notes for complete bios.
Tessa Bonhomme – Gold, Canada (defenseman, 2004-08)
Lisa Chesson – Silver, United States (defenseman, 2005-08)
Emma Laaksonen – Bronze, Finland (defenseman, 2001-04)
Minttu Tuominen – Bronze, Finland (forward, freshman)

A HELPING HAND
Laura McIntosh has been mighty helpful this season, assisting on 34 goals for the second-most in Buckeye history. Her total leads the WCHA overall and she also topped conference-only games with 28 assists. McIntosh has 62 helpers to tie for sixth in the OSU career records just two seasons into her career.

POWER UP
The Buckeyes have scored on 12-of-32 power plays (37.5 percent) in their last six games. They have a power-play goal in each of the last six games.

Overall, Ohio State is operating 21.7 percent (35-of-161) with the man-advantage to rank fourth in the NCAA and lead the WCHA. Hokey Langan leads the team with 20 power play points while Natalie Spooner has nine PP goals.

GOING OUT WITH A BANG
Senior co-captains Rachel Davis and Raelyn LaRocque are having career seasons in regards to offensive production. LaRocque has 34 points after beginning the year with a total of 27 in her previous three seasons. She also has more than doubled her career assists with 24.

Davis, who was primarily a stay-at-home defenseman in her first three seasons, has season-bests in points (21) and assists (15). She entered the year with totals of 17 assists and 27 points.

KNAPP TIME
Rookie goaltender Chelsea Knapp has made 840 saves to rank second in season saves in the Ohio State records. Her total saves rank seventh in the NCAA this season while spending the seventh-highest time in net at 2002:29. Her minutes-played also rank second in the Buckeye records.

A LOOK AT MINNESOTA
The Golden Gophers (24-7-5) tied for the WCHA regular-season title with rival Minnesota Duluth with 43 points apiece. Minnesota has been ranked in the top 3 of the nation all season.

Leading the team in points (40) and goal (20) is junior Emily West. Nine of her goals are gamewinners and three have been scored shorthanded. A total of 11 Gophers have double-digit points. In net most of the season has been freshman Noora Räty (16-2-4, 1.06, .958), who recently returned to the team after backstopping Finland to the Olympic bronze medal.

THE SERIES VS. THE GOPHERS
Minnesota leads the all-time series vs. Ohio State with a 39-8-1 record. After splitting five series in a row, the Gophers have won the last 10 games dating back to Feb. 8, 2008.

In the teams’ meetings this season, the Buckeyes were led by Natalie Spooner (1g, 3a), Hokey Langan (1g, 2a) and Kim Theut (1g, 2a) with Kelly Wild scoring twice. Ohio State was without Spooner and Minttu Tuominen for the January series as they were in Germany to represent Canada and Finland, respectively, at the MLP Cup.

HOKEY MAKES HISTORY – PART 1
Hokey Langan has set the Buckeye record for freshman points this year. The forward from Chatham, Ontario, has 51 points to surpass the mark of 44 set by Jeni Creary in 2001-02. Langan has 25 goals and 26 assists in 36 games.

HOKEY MAKES HISTORY – PART 2
Hokey Langan had one of the top games ever by a Buckeye Jan. 22, tying the Ohio State single-game records for goals (4) and points (5) in the Buckeyes’ 5-2 victory over Bemidji State. She is only the second OSU player to score four goals in a game and recorded just the fourth five-point game in team history.

The only other Buckeye to score four goals in a game was Natalie Spooner, Dec. 12, 2008 at Minnesota State. The last Buckeye to record a five-point performance in a game was Tessa Bonhomme (1g, 4a), Jan. 5, 2008 vs. North Dakota.