Sept. 30, 2004

The 2004-05 season marks the sixth season of women’s hockey at Ohio State. The Buckeyes boast 14 returning players, including seven forwards, five defensemen and two goaltenders, to lead the charge in the upcoming campaign. Among the group are five seniors who will be looked upon to guide the squad to a winning season, including second-year captain Meaghan Mulvaney and alternate captains Melissa Glaser and Jeni Creary.

“We are going to have good chemistry this year,” head coach Jackie Barto, who has been with the program since its inception, said. “I am really excited about the student-athletes and the way they are coming together. Not only our captain and alternate captains, but our senior class is dedicated to the success of the program. They are very good leaders who are going to lead from the top down.”

In utilizing the leadership on the team this season, Barto has set specific objectives for her squad to be able to improve upon its 16-16-3 record last year and reach its ultimate goal of advancing to the NCAA tournament, which expands from four to eight teams this season.

The Buckeyes look to have a strong start by coming out of the preseason with high energy, confidence and camaraderie. Another goal of the squad is to be more consistent from period to period and game to game. Last season, the Buckeyes finished 3-10-3 against ranked opponents, so the squad also is striving for more success against top-ranked teams. The Buckeyes know if they finish in the Top 3 of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and rank in the national polls, they will have a good chance of earning a berth into the NCAA tournament.

On the Blueline
Despite the loss of All-American Emma Laaksonen, the defense brings a wealth of experience to the ice this season in its five returnees and one incoming freshman. Senior Jaclyn Haines will be looked upon to bring leadership and experience to the defense in the 2004-05 season. Last year she finished with six points, two goals and four assists.

“Jaclyn is our lone senior on defense and we want her to lead with her experience,” Barto said. “She is a very strong defensive defenseman and that is going to be a big positive for our team.”

The expectation level for the sophomores on the blueline has been set high going into this season as the trio – Tessa Bonhomme (5-15-20), Amber Bowman (3-11-14) and Lacey Schultz (0-4-4) – gained experience in their freshman campaign recording 38 points combined. Last season, Bonhomme was the first Buckeye to be named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team after ending the year tied for fifth in freshman scoring (13) in league games.

Freshman Lisa Chesson, of Plainfield, Ill., will be looked upon to bring youth, aggressiveness and skill to the ice.

Also returning to the ice is junior Katie Sershen, who is rebounding from an injury-plagued sophomore year.

“Overall, our defense needs to take care of the defensive zone and understand their roles within our defensive schemes,” Barto said. “They also will have the ability to be involved in our offense. I believe this is a defensive group that is going to create some offensive chances this season.”

Between the Pipes
Ohio State looks toward two talented returnees and a freshman to lead the Buckeyes in goal this season.

Sixth-year senior Melissa Glaser, who suffered knee injuries in 2001 and 2003, returns in goal for her final year as a Buckeye. Glaser is OSU’s career goals-against average (2.72) and save percentage (.903) leader. Glaser had her most successful season last year as she posted a 2.66 gaa and 670 saves for a .910 SPct.

“We are going to be very solid in goal this season,” Barto said. “We have depth and experience, which I think are two critical elements to a successful position. We have Melissa who has been here for six years now and has had many positive things happen in her career. She also has experience on how to organize a team and how to control the defensive zone. We look for her to have a career year in her last season.”

Challenging Glaser for the starting spot is sophomore Erika Vanderveer, who gained a wealth of experience her freshman campaign, posting a .917 save percentage, a 2.21 gaa and a 5-3-1 record. Vanderveer also garnered two WCHA Player of the Week honors for recording a shutout in each of her first two starts.

Newcomer Jillian Mauch of Framingham, Mass., enters the goaltending ranks for the 2004-05 season. This year will allow Mauch to make the adjustment to the college level and she will be under the guidance of veteran leaders Glaser and Vanderveer.

“This group of three has good depth and experience,” Barto said. “They should develop a good camaraderie and be able to support and be there for each other. All three are very good athletes and goaltending will be a strength of our team this season.”

The Buckeye Attack
A group of seven returning forwards, including the Top 3 scorers from the 2003-04 season, brings a wealth of experience to the team.

“I look for the three seniors – Mulvany, Creary and Jennifer Desson – to have career seasons,” Barto said. “They all have the ability, are good skaters and are coming off three solid years. I anticipate them to really lead by their performances on the ice.”

Mulvaney, OSU’s two-time captain, broke out in scoring last season as she finished second on the team with 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists), including one shorthanded and two game-winning goals, marking her career best performance. The lone Ohio native on the Buckeye roster also plays a vital role on OSU’s penalty-killing unit, which ended the 2003-04 season eighth in the nation (87.8 percent).

Classmate Creary continued her scoring spree last season as she reached 101 career points and claimed OSU’s career points title. Creary looks to finish her four years at OSU the same way she came charging in as freshman, topping the 44 points she posted during her rookie campaign.

Desson, who was plagued by injury after just nine games last season, returns healthy for her senior year. She anticipates building upon her best season when she tallied 11 goals and 15 assists as a junior.

Jana Harrigan, the Buckeyes’ leading scorer last season, returns to the ice for her junior campaign. Harrigan led the team in points (31), goals (16) and shots (126) and tied for eighth in scoring in the WCHA. Barto looks for Harrigan to be a threat on the ice and key to OSU’s puck movement.

Junior Crystal Sayther (1-4-5) also returns to the squad along with sophomores Krysta Skarda (5-4-9) and Katie Maroney (3-2-5). Sayther will be looked upon to contribute to OSU’s forecheck and she brings a great deal of confidence to the ice. Skarda and Maroney both gained experience as freshmen and look to capitalize on their knowledge this season.

Adding depth to the offense this season are six freshmen, all of whom will gain valuable experience and challenge the upperclassmen for playing time. Shelby Aldous, of LaSalle, Ontario, and Jody Heywood, of Regina, Saskatchewan, are two strong skating players who will be looked upon to make contributions immediately. In addition, Pamela Patterson, of Miramichi, New Brunswick, and Mallory Peckels, of Minocqua, Wis., have the ability to move the puck. Erin Keys, a native of St. Paul, Minn., and Taylor Davidson, of Louisville, Ky., also look to contribute to OSU’s offense.

“We added speed and quickness to the squad this season,” Barto said. “We also gained creativity and strength offensively. Our main objective is to be more creative, which will hopefully result in more shots on goal, more scoring chances and more puck possession in our offensive zone. Our offense will be generated from everyone on the ice, including our defense. I expect everyone to commit to the defense and everyone to commit to the offense. Our offense will generate from our puck possession and the ability to move the puck at top speeds.”

The Schedule
Ohio State opens the 2004-05 season with an exhibition game vs. Etobicoke Oct. 3. The Buckeyes start off the regular season at home when they take on WCHA opponent St. Cloud State Oct. 8-9 in the newly renovated OSU Ice Rink. Ohio State will play 18 games, 10 home and eight on the road, before heading into the holiday break.

The Buckeyes open January with three home series before entering their toughest part of the season, during which they will compete four consecutive weekends on the road. OSU concludes the regular season at home vs. Minnesota State Feb. 25-26. The Buckeyes play every WCHA team four times during the season, with a two-game series on the road and a two-game series at home.

“I think once again the WCHA will be the top conference in the country,” Barto said. “We had five teams ranked nationally last year for the majority of the season. The addition of North Dakota is exciting. There are eight teams now and that will only strengthen our conference. Our schedule is going to be very strong top to bottom. In every single game we have to be prepared and focused on the game at hand.”

Ohio State will face three nonconference opponents this year, including Northeastern, who the Buckeyes went 1-0-1 against last season, Nov. 13-14 in Columbus, Ohio. The Yale Bulldogs travel to the state of Ohio to face the Buckeyes in only the second meeting between the teams; their first meeting was Nov. 27, 1999 at a Providence tournament. Ohio State will make its first trek to Niagara Falls, N.Y., at the end of the season. Last year marked the first meeting between the two teams, when the Buckeyes swept the Purples Eagles in Columbus.

The WCHA has expanded to an eight-team championship this season, which will be held March 3-7 at Ridder Arena, the site of the 2005 WCHA Final Five, in Minneapolis, Minn. The NCAA expanded its tournament to eight teams, adding regional games which will be held at campus sites March 18-20. The 2005 NCAA Frozen Four will be held March 25 and 27 at the Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H.