Drop the Puck The Ohio State men’s hockey team, after a week off, heads downtown for two CCHA games with No. 14 Alaska in Nationwide Arena. The Buckeyes (4-6-0, 2-4-0-0 CCHA) and Nanooks (7-5-2, 4-4-2-2 CCHA) will meet at 1:45 p.m. Friday and at 8:05 p.m. Saturday in Columbus.
Fans can listen to the radio broadcast, with Herb Howenstine and former Buckeye John Mowat on the call, on 1460 AM in Columbus or online for free at OhioStateBuckeyes.com. Live stats can be found from the men’s hockey schedule page at OhioStateBuckeyes.com. In-game updates also will be at Twitter.com/OhioState_MHKY. Ticket Talk Single-game tickets to the games this weekend at Nationwide Arena are $13 for adults and $10 for senior citizens and non-Ohio State students and youth. Ohio State students are admitted free when they show their BuckID. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster outlets or at the ticket office on gameday. Flashback The Buckeyes are coming off a bye weekend after splitting a series at Michigan State.
In the opener, the Buckeyes came from behind to win 4-3 in overtime on Alex Szczechura’s gamewinner. The Buckeyes trailed 2-1 after the first period (with Szczechura scoring for Ohio State) and were down 3-1 after the second. In the third Chris Crane brought the Buckeyes within one with an unassisted goal and Danny Dries tipped in a Shane Sims shot to knot the score. In OT, Peter Boyd won a faceoff back to Curtis Gedig and his shot was blocked by a Spartan defender. Szczechura was able to gather it, spin and score to lift the Buckeyes to their first overtime win of the year. It was the first overtime game for the squad this year and the first OT victory since a win in game two of a CCHA quarterfinal series with Miami last March.
Saturday the Buckeyes hit the ice ready to go but the Spartans capitalized on three Ohio State mistakes to lead 3-0 after the first period. The teams were scoreless in the second. In the third the Buckeyes pulled goalie Cal Heeter for an extra attacker with more than three minutes remaining but could not get on the scoreboard and the Spartans sealed the win with an empty net goal. It was the first time the Buckeyes were shut out, and the first time the team lost by more than one goal, this year.
Buckeye Snapshot Ohio State is 4-6 this season, sweeping Alabama-Huntsville, splitting series with Quinnipiac, Ferris State and Michigan State and dropping games to Robert Morris and Northern Michigan. The team is averaging 3.00 goals a game while allowing 2.45. On the power play, the Buckeyes are 10-for-51 (19.6 percent) and on the penalty kill the team is 37-for-47 (78.7 percent).
Senior forward Sergio Somma has a team-high six goals and 11 points. John Albert, a senior forward, is second with 10 points and tied for first with senior defenseman Shane Sims with seven helpers each. Junior forward Danny Dries and freshman forward Alex Szczechura are second with four goals apiece.
In net junior Cal Heeter has started all 11 games, with a 2.40 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.
In Nationwide Arena Ohio State is 7-0-2 all-time in games played in Nationwide Arena. The squad hosted then-No. 3 ranked Denver last October, shutting out the Pioneers, 4-0. Prior to that, the Buckeyes last played in Nationwide Dec. 29-30, 2006 when they won the Ohio Hockey Classic, downing Minnesota Duluth, 4-1, and Miami, 5-3. In the 2005 Ohio Hockey Classic the Buckeyes were 1-0-1, with a 4-0 win over Holy Cross (Dec. 29) and a 1-1 OT tie with Miami Dec. 30. In the 2004 OHC the Buckeyes had a 5-1 win over Minnesota State and a 1-1 OT tie with Colorado College. The team first played in the Blue Jackets’ arena in March 2003 when it swept Nebraska-Omaha in the first round of the CCHA playoffs (4-1 March 14, 3-1 March 15).
One of Four Columbus is one of just four metro areas to have both NCAA Division I and NHL hockey programs, joining Denver, Minneapolis and Boston. Northeastern’s Matthews Arena is the closest to the hometown pro team, 2.74 miles from TD Banknorth Garden, with Boston University’s Agganis Arena 2.90 miles away. Nationwide Arena is 3.73 miles from the Buckeyes’ Value City Arena. Magness Arena, Denver’s home rink, is 6.2 miles from the Pepsi Center. The Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild, is 7.6 miles from the Gophers’ Mariucci Arena and TD Garden is 8.67 miles away from Boston College’s Conte Forum.
Home Sweet Home The series vs. Alaska this weekend marks the Buckeyes’ first two-game CCHA series in Columbus this season. The squad hosts Michigan next weekend, the first time the team will have back-to-back home series in 2010-11. After the new year five of eight CCHA series will be on the Buckeyes’ home ice.
Another Approaching 100 Senior Peter Boyd, who has eight points (3g, 5a) this season, enters the weekend series vs. Alaska with 96 career points. He has 32 goals and 64 assists as a Buckeye. Boyd is looking to become the second Buckeye to cross the 100-point barrier this season. John Albert hit triple digits vs. Alabama-Huntsville Nov. 6. The last Buckeye team to have more than one player pass the 100-point mark was 2004 (Paul Caponigri, Scott May and Dave Steckel). Albert was the 52nd Buckeye (and first since 2008) to join the ‘Century Club’.
Have a Game In the first game at Michigan State, freshman Alex Szczechura had a career-high two goals and his second two-point game of the year. He had a four-game point (4-2-6) and three-game goal streak stopped in game two vs. the Spartans. Szczechura has four goals and six points on the year to share the scoring lead among the rookies.
Comeback Kids The win in the opener at Michigan State was the second time this season the Buckeyes came back to win when trailing after the second period. The squad rallied back from a 3-2 deficit for a 5-3 win at Ferris State Oct. 23.
The victory over the Spartans was the first time Ohio State rallied to win after trailing through the first 20 minutes since Jan. 23, 2010 at Michigan State. In that game they were down 1-0 and pulled out a 4-2 victory.
Shane on D Senior defenseman Shane Sims had four-game assist and point streaks (0-4-4) ended in game two at Michigan State. He was a team-best and career-high tying +3 in the first contest vs. the Spartans and is now a team-high +7 on the year.
Staying Out of the Box Ohio State had a season-low two penalties in game one vs. Michigan State. The team is 41st in the nation, averaging 12.3 penalty minutes a game. It was the fewest penalties since the Buckeyes were whistled for two vs. Northern Michigan Nov. 6, 2009.
Leading the Way Senior Sergio Somma extended his point streak to four with an assist Friday at Michigan State but had the stretch ended in game two vs. the Spartans. He leads the team with 11 points, including a team-best six goals, this season. Somma has at least one point in all but three games this season.
Rookies Rolling Freshman Chris Crane scored in the opener at Michigan State to give him goals in back-to-back games and points in three straight (2-2-4). Classmate defenseman Curtis Gedig has assists in three-straight games. Both streaks were ended when Ohio State was shut out in game two vs. the Spartans.
Consistent Sergio Somma is first on the team with a point in eight of 11 games on the year. John Albert, C.J. Severyn, Peter Boyd and Devon Krogh all have points in six of 11 games this season.
Buckeyes vs. Nanooks Ohio State leads the all-time series with Alaska, 23-22-4, including a 13-7-2 ledger in Columbus. The teams met last year in Columbus in February. The Nanooks won the opener, 4-1, before the teams tied, 3-3, and the Buckeyes won the shootout, 1-0, in three rounds.
The Buckeyes and Nanooks will face off in Fairbanks in the end of January to wrap up the regular-season series.
A Look at the Nanooks No. 14-ranked Alaska enters the weekend 7-5-2 and is 4-4-2-2 in CCHA action. The squad hosted Northern Michigan last time out, tying the opener, 1-1, and winning the shootout before dropping a 2-1 decision in game two. The squad is 5-2-1 at home this year and 1-2-1 on the road, along with a 1-1 ledger in two neutral-site games in Anchorage. The Nanooks were 0-1-1 at Michigan State Oct. 22-23 and split a series with Miami (L 0-4, W 3-2) in their last road series Nov. 12-13.
The squad, which made its first NCAA tournament appearance last season, is averaging 2.14 goals a game but allowing just 2.00 a contest to rank fourth (tied) nationally. The Nanooks are 9-for-60 (15 percent) on the power play and are 58-for-68 (85.3 percent) on the penalty kill.
Senior Kevin Petovello has a team-high six goals, eight assists and 14 points. Freshman Cody Kunyk is second with five goals and 11 points, while junior Joe Sova is third with 10 points and ranks second with seven helpers. Scott Greenham has started every game in goal and is in the Top 12 in the nation in goals-against average (1.84) and save percentage (.927).
The Seniors Ohio State has 10 seniors (nine skaters) on the squad this season, with five of the Top 6 scorers through the first 11 games of the year. The group of Sergio Somma, John Albert, Peter Boyd, Shane Sims and C.J. Severyn has combined for 16 goals, 28 assists and 44 points, with each playing in all 11 games. The other skaters in the class (Chris Reed, Kyle Reed, Patrick Schafer and Corey Toy) have a 1-4-5 line together, each playing in at least six games.
The Rookies Five Buckeye freshmen have skated in at least eight games this season, with each posting at least two points. Against Alabama-Huntsville the group combined for 12 points and the quartet now has 12 points on nine goals and 14 assists. Defenseman Curtis Gedig (0-6-6) and forward Alex Szczechura (4-2-6) leads the rookies with six points each. Chris Crane (3-2-5) has five points, while Alex Lippincott (2-2-4) has four and Travis Statchuk (0-2-2)has two. So Close Five of six losses for the Buckeyes this season have been by one goal. They fell 2-1 in three games (Oct. 8 at Quinnipiac, Oct. 22 at Ferris State and Oct. 29 at Northern Michigan) and 4-3 against Robert Morris Oct. 15 and at Northern Michigan Oct. 30. The lone exception was the 4-0 defeat at Michigan State Nov. 13
Become a Fan and a Follower Keep up with the Buckeyes on the internet. Weekly and special releases, statistics, biographies and more can be found on OhioStateBuckeyes.com, the official site of Ohio State athletics. The team has an official facebook page – facebook.com/OhioStateMensHockey, as well as a twitter feed – twitter.com/OhioState_MHKY. To receive weekly email updates on the team, email BuckeyeHockeyReport@buckeyes.ath.ohio-state.edu.