Buckeyes battle Badgers in best-of-three series, Feb. 26-28 at Eagle’s Nest Arena in Verona, Wis.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The fifth-seed Ohio State women’s hockey team begins postseason play with a best-of-three WCHA First Round Playoff series at fourth-seed Wisconsin, Feb. 26-28 at the Eagle’s Nest Arena in Verona, Wis. Games begin at 7 p.m. (CT) each night.

The Buckeyes (15-14-5, 12-13-3-1 WCHA) 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 the Beavers at 2-1-1.

Just three points ahead were the Badgers (18-13-3, 15-12-1-0 WCHA), who were edged out of third place by a point when St. Cloud State tied Ohio State last Saturday. The top 4 teams in the regular-season league standings earned home ice for the first round playoffs.

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On the line this weekend for all eight conference teams are spots in the WCHA Final Faceoff. The four teams who win their best-of-three series will advance to the single-game semifinals, March 6. The winners of those will play for the  championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, March 7.

The University of Minnesota will host the WCHA Final Faceoff at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis – also the site of this year’s NCAA Women’s Frozen Four.

The Buckeyes and Badgers also met in the WCHA First Round Playoffs last season, but under much different circumstances. Then, Ohio State finished seventh in the league with a 6-20-2-2 mark and Wisconsin, ranked second in the country, placed second in the WCHA with a 21-2-5-3 record and won all four regular-season games vs. the Buckeyes. The Badgers went on to sweep OSU en route to the conference and NCAA championship titles.

This year, Ohio State has split its meetings with Wisconsin. The Buckeyes won both Friday meetings, 4-3 in Madison (Oct. 23) and 5-4 in Columbus (Jan. 29). The Badgers took the second games by scores of 5-3 and 3-2, respectively. It was the first time in OSU history the team split the season series with Wisconsin.

Hokey Langan earned her fourth WCHA Rookie of the Week award Wednesday after becoming 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.

Langan’s four WCHA Rookie of the Week awards ties the Buckeye record set by Natalie Spooner last season. Ohio State collected a total of eight weekly honors this season.

With 48 points overall this season, she ties for the third-most in Ohio State history. Both her goal (22) and assist (26) totals also rank in the top 8 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 1.41 (good for ninth overall).

The Buckeyes picked up two points in their final conference series of the year at the OSU Ice Rink (Feb. 19-20), winning an overtime shootout against St. Cloud State after a 4-4 tie Saturday. Ohio State lost 3-2 to the Huskies Friday.

After building a quick lead on two power play goals in the first 6 minutes of the game Friday, St. Cloud State answered with three man-advantage goals of its own to come from behind and defeat the Ohio State. Laura McIntosh and Kelly Wild each had two points in the loss. The pair set up the opening goal scored by Kim Theut, while McIntosh scored the second goal off assists by Wild and Hokey Langan.

Seniors Rachel Davis and Raelyn LaRocque had a goal and assist each in the their final game at the OSU Ice Rink as Ohio State rallied with two extra-skater goals in the last minutes of regulation for the 4-4 tie Saturday. The Buckeyes scored twice in the last 1:58, starting with a 6-on-3 goal by Langan. Theut netted the game-tying goal with 20 seconds left to send it into OT.

After skating through a scoreless overtime session, the Buckeyes picked up another point by winning the three-round shootout 1-0 on a goal by McIntosh.

• Along with Davis and LaRocque, OSU honored senior forward Michele Tonnessen prior to the Saturday game.
• It was the first shootout victory for the Buckeyes this season. They lost their previous two attempts at Bemidji State (2-1, Oct. 27) and at St. Cloud State (1-0, Dec. 11).
• The 55 shots on goal Saturday tied the Ohio State record set Oct. 15, 2005 at Northeastern. The 25 shots on goal in the third period also tied the Buckeye record set Jan. 5, 2008 vs. North Dakota.
• Rachel Davis played in the 144th game of her career Saturday, tying for the fifth-most in Buckeye history.

Hokey Langan and Natalie Spooner are among the 2010 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award nominees, USA Hockey announced Feb. 17. The Buckeye forwards are two of the 45 players who have been nominated by NCAA Division I women’s hockey head coaches.The award is presented annually by The USA Hockey Foundation to the top player in women’s college hockey.

The coaches will select the top 10 finalists from among the group of 45, with the announcement taking place March 2. A 13-member selection committee will choose the three finalists (March 9), as well as the award recipient (March 20).

Ohio State’s offense is first overall in the WCHA and third in the NCAA with 3.26 goals per game. Four players have 30 or more points: Hokey Langan (48), Laura McIntosh (41), Natalie Spooner (38) and Raelyn LaRocque (33). A total of 12 Buckeyes have notched 10 or more points. Langan leads the team with 22 goals and Spooner is second with 18 (4 gwg, 8 ppg). McIntosh leads in assists (31), followed by Langan (26) and LaRocque (24).

Rookie Chelsea Knapp has started 32 of 34 games in net with a 13-14-5 record, 3.04 GAA and .893 save percentage.

Freshman forward Minttu Tuominen, who left Jan. 29 to meet up with the Finnish National Team in Colorado, will return to the Buckeyes this weekend from Vancouver after playing in the bronze-medal game Thursday.

Tuominen joins Emma Laaksonen (2001-04), a fellow Finn playing in her fourth Olympics. Former OSU defensemen Tessa Bonhomme (2004-08) is on Team Canada while Lisa Chesson (2005-08) is on the United States squad. Complete bios on all four Buckeyes in the Olympics are on page 6 of the notes.

Laura McIntosh has been mighty helpful this season, assisting on 31 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 59 helpers to rank eighth in the OSU career records just two seasons into her career.

The Buckeyes have scored on 10-of-26 power plays (38.5 percent) in their last four games. They scored five PP goals each in series with Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State.

Overall, Ohio State is operating 21.3 percent (33-of-155) with the man-advantage to rank fourth in the NCAA and lead the WCHA. Hokey Langan leads the team with 19 power play points while Natalie Spooner has eight PP goals.

Hokey Langan has set the Buckeye record for freshman points this year. The forward from Chatham, Ontario, has 48 points to surpass the mark of 44 set by Jeni Creary in 2001-02. Langan has 22 goals and 26 assists in 34 games.

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.

Senior co-captains Rachel Davis and Raelyn LaRocque are having career seasons in regards to offensive production. LaRocque has 33 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 defensive 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.

Hokey Langan is in the midst of an outstanding freshman campaign. Among many notable achievements:
• She leads the Buckeyes in points (48) and goals (22) while second in assists (26).
• She leads all NCAA freshman with 1.41 points per game (good for ninth overall in scoring average in the NCAA).
• She has the sixth-highest point total overall in the nation.
• Her 48 points is second the WCHA overall, and she is t-2nd in goals, t-4th in assists and 5th in PP points (19).

Rookie goaltender Chelsea Knapp has made 789 saves to rank second in season saves in the Ohio State records. Her total saves rank sixth in the NCAA this season while spending the seventh-highest time in net at 1876:20.

Wisconsin is under the direction of interim head coach Tracey DeKeyser, who is in her 11th season overall with the Badgers. Head coach Mark Johnson has been away from the team this season after being selected to lead the U.S. Women’s National Team at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Leading UW in scoring is sophomore Brooke Ammerman with 19 goals and 36 points. Juniors Mallory Deluce and Kelly Nash are tied for the team-high with 18 assists apiece. Senior Alannah McCready (9-6-0, 1.99, .917) and freshman Becca Ruegsegger (9-7-3, 2.29, .907) have split time in the Badger net.

Ohio State and Wisconsin met just four weeks ago, splitting a series in Columbus with the Buckeyes taking game one, 5-4, and the Badgers winning game two, 3-2, Jan. 29-30. Laura McIntosh had four points in that series on a goal and three assists while Natalie Spooner tallied two goals.

McIntosh led the Buckeyes with eight points (3g, 5a) in the four games vs. Wisconsin this season. Hokey Langan is second with six points (3g, 3a), including the two game-winning goals, followed by Spooner with three goals and four points.