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Only three points separate third through sixth place in WCHA standings with three weeks to play

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s hockey team concludes a three-week homestand by taking on North Dakota in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series, Feb. 5-6. 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 (13-11-4, 10-10-2-0 WCHA) are coming off a split with now-No. 9 Wisconsin, winning 5-4 on a last-minute goal before falling 3-2 in the finale. The Fighting Sioux (5-17-4, 4-16-2-0 WCHA) dropped both home games to Minnesota Duluth in a 4-3 overtime heart-breaker and 5-0 shutout.

KEEPING AN EYE ON THINGS
Video: Buckeye Vision (OhioStateBuckeyes.com)
This season, the Buckeyes will be streaming many of their home games live online at OhioStateBuckeyes.com. Log on to the official site of OSU athletics and click on the broadcast link on the women’s hockey page. The live-streaming video is available by purchasing Buckeye Vision.
Audio: Scarlet & Gray Sports Radio (OhioStateSports.net)
Livestats: OhioStateBuckeyes.com
All links are on the OSU women’s hockey schedule page.

BRING YOUR SKATES
Following the Saturday game will be a “Skate with the Buckeyes” session. Fans can bring their skates or rent them from the OSU Ice Rink. Skate with the Buckeyes and autograph sessions will take place all season long after the second game of a home series.

GETTING CLOSE
As the regular season nears its end for the WCHA, there is still much up in the air with home ice for the first round of league playoffs on the line. Although they had a victory last weekend vs. Wisconsin, the Buckeyes fell to sixth in the conference standings with 22 points. However, Ohio State is just three points back from the third-place Badgers with a mere point seperating Bemidji State (24) and St. Cloud State (23).

Minnesota leads the WCHA with 40 points, followed by Minnesota Duluth with 33. Rounding out the standings are Minnesota State (12) and North Dakota (10).

LAST TIME OUT: #10 WISCONSIN
The Buckeyes split a series with then-No. 10 Wisconsin, Jan. 29-30 at the OSU Ice Rink. Ohio State took the Friday game, 5-4, on a goal with 9 seconds left, while the Badgers held on to a 3-2 win Saturday.

OSU rallied with two goals in the last 4 minutes Friday, including the game-winning goal by Hokey Langan with 9 seconds left. Laura McIntosh scored the game-tying goal with 3:49 on the clock and then set up the gamewinner as part of a four-point night to lead the Buckeyes. Linemates Raelyn LaRocque (1g, 2a) and Langan (1g, 1a) had multiple-point games as they totaled nine points. Natalie Spooner also had a goal and assist.

On Saturday, Kim Theut scored an extra-skater goal with just over 1 minute left to cut the Wisconsin lead to one, but that’s where it would stand. Chelsea Knapp had a strong outing with a season-high 42 saves, but another rookie, UW’s Brianna Decker, proved the only one able to get past her as she scored all three Badger goals for the hat trick.

BADGER SERIES NOTES:
• For the first time in team history, Ohio State split its season series with Wisconsin (2-2-0).
• It was the first victory over Wisconsin at the OSU Ice Rink since Oct. 23, 2004. Earlier this season, the Buckeyes snapped a 21-game winless streak against the Badgers with a 4-3 win in Madison with Hokey Langan also scoring gamewinner then.
• Ohio State had a 48-31 advantage in shots Friday while Wisconsin led by a 45-29 margin Saturday.
• Natalie Spooner has a point in eight of her last 10 games with 12 points (6g, 6a) in that span.
• Kelly Wild finished the weekend with three assists.

AND SHE’S OFF TO VANCOUVER
The Buckeyes are without freshman forward Minttu Tuominen, who left Jan. 29 to meet up with the Finnish National Team in Colorado. After a week of practice and a couple of exhibition games, the squad will travel to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics that open Feb. 12.

BUCKEYES IN A NUTSHELL
Ohio State’s offense remains second overall in the WCHA and tied for fourth in the NCAA with 3.25 goals per game.

Three players have 30 or more points: Hokey Langan (39), Laura McIntosh (31) and Natalie Spooner (30). A total of 13 Buckeyes have notched seven or more points. Langan leads the team with 18 goals and Spooner is second with 15 (4 gwg, 6 ppg). McIntosh leads in assists (23), followed by linemates Langan and Raelyn LaRocque with 21 each.

Rookie Chelsea Knapp has started 24 of 26 games in net with a 11-11-4 record, 2.86 GAA and .900 save percentage.

HOKEY MAKES HISTORY
Freshman 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. The forward from Chatham, Ontario, became only the second player at OSU to score four goals in a game and recorded just the fourth five-point performance in the 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.

CHELSEA LATELY
In her last six games, rookie goaltender Chelsea Knapp is averaging 29.6 saves per game with 178 saves total to 12 goals allowed. She is 4-2-0 with a .937 save percentage, a shutout and a game-high 42 saves in that span.

HERE’S TO MANY MORE
Two season-firsts were recorded in a 6-0 win at Minnesota State (Jan. 15). Minttu Tuominen tallied a hat trick – the first scored by a Buckeye since Laura McIntosh had one Feb. 20, 2009 also against the Mavericks. Tuominen entered the game with three goals in her first 16 games played.

The shutout by Chelsea Knapp was the first blanking of a Buckeye opponent since a 3-0 win against Bemidji State, Oct. 24, 2008 in Columbus. It also was first time the Buckeyes have held an opponent scoreless on the road since a 3-0 win at St. Cloud State, March 1, 2008.
 
GOING OUT WITH A BANG
Senior co-captains Rachel Davis and Raelyn LaRocque are having career seasons in regards to offensive production. LaRocque has 27 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 21.

Davis, who was primarily a defensive defenseman in her first three seasons, has season-bests in points (17) and assists (13). She entered the year with totals of 17 assists and 27 points.

HOKEY HOCKEY
Rookie forward Hokey Langan is in the midst of an outstanding freshman campaign. Among many notable achievements:
• She leads the Buckeyes in points (39) and goals (18) while tying for second in assists (21).
• She is just the sixth Buckeye to post 30 or more points in her rookie season, joining Laura McIntosh (39) and Natalie Spooner (30) who reached the milestone last season.
• She leads all NCAA freshman with 1.39 points per game (good for eighth overall in scoring average in the NCAA).
• Her 39 points lead the WCHA overall. She is second in goals and tied for third in assists, and sixth in power-play points (13).
• In WCHA-only games, Langan is first with 34 points and 17 goals. She has a 13-point lead over any other league rookie.

NO SLUMPING SOPHOMORES
Just 56 games into her career, Natalie Spooner is moving up the Ohio State records for career goals. She currently has 36 goals to tie for seventh. Spooner also has worked her way into Ohio State’s WCHA career records, tying for sixth place with 30 goals against conference opponents.

With 70 points in her first 64 career games, Laura McIntosh entered the top 15 for Buckeye career points (14th) and top 10 for points by a forward (9th) last weekend vs. Wisconsin. She also is an assist away from breaking into the top 10 in that category with 51 so far.

TURNING A PAIGE
Freshman forward Paige Semenza has caught on to the college game with seven points on two goals and five assists in the last 10 games. The Pittston, Pa., native had just two points in her first 15 games.

A LOOK AT NORTH DAKOTA
The Fighting Sioux have hit a rough stretch of late with a 0-6-1 records in their last seven games that included series with Wisconsin, Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth. Starting with this road series, they will only be home for one more game in the regular season.

Sophomore Alyssa Wiebe with a team-best 23 points, eight goals and 15 assists. The Sioux’s top 6 scorers are either freshmen or sophomores. In net has been rookie Jorid Dagfinrud (3-10-1, 2.38, .916) and sophomore Stephanie Ney (2-5-2, 3.22, .895).

THE SERIES VS. THE SIOUX
The Buckeyes split an earlier meeting at North Dakota in November, falling 5-4 before posting a 3-1 victory in Grand Forks. The loss was just the fourth in the series against UND with Ohio State leading 16-4-2 all-time (9-0-1 in Columbus).

Raelyn LaRocque was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week following the series at UND after collecting five points (2g, 3a). Natalie Spooner also scored twice vs. the Sioux with Hokey Langan tallying a goal and two assists.

ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END
Rookie forward Hokey Langan was held without a point in the Minnesota series (Jan. 8-9), ending her point streak at 14 games (dating back to Oct. 16). The Chatham, Ontario, native tied for the second-longest streak in Buckeye history with Jana Harrigan (2003-06). Harrigan, Ohio State’s all-time leading scorer, also holds the team record for longest point streak at 17 games.

The games vs. the Gophers was the first time Langan was held off the score sheet for back-to-back contests. She has just six games without a point this season.

UP NEXT
Ohio State hits the road for the first time since Jan. 9 , traveling to Minnesota Duluth for a WCHA series vs. the fifth-ranked Bulldogs, Feb. 12-13. Games begin at 7 p.m. (CT) Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday at the DECC.