Oct. 11, 1999

The Ohio State hockey team (2-1-0, 1-1-0), after splitting a two-game series in Fairbanks, Alaska, last weekend, returns home for a two-game set against Western Michigan (0-1-1, 0-1-1) starting Friday night. The Buckeyes and Broncos will meet Friday at 7:05 p.m. and Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Both games will be played in luxurious Value City Arena (17,500).

Both of this weekend’s game will be aired live on WOSU Radio (820 AM), marking the first two of a minimum of 28 games the station will broadcast this season. Herb Howenstine and John Mowat will call the action. On Saturday, Central Ohio Sport! Television will also produce its first game of the season for a tape delay broadcast. The station reaches over 300,000 homes and can be found on channels 24 and 36 on your cable system. Check local listings for the replay time and date. Randy Rhinehart and Bill McKenzie will call the game.

Ohio State is more than happy to be returning to the friendly confines of Value City Arena. Since moving into the facility on Jan. 2 of last season, the Buckeyes have gone 9-3-1 and scored 46 goals while allowing only 16. OSU has successfully killed 73-of-77 (.948) penalties in the new arena and converted 15-of-78 (.192) power-play attempts.

Western Michigan leads the all-time series with Ohio State, 51-44-8. The Buckeyes have gone 5-1-2 against the Broncos in the last eight meetings. OSU holds a 27-24-4 advantage in games played in Columbus (including 2-0-0 in Value City Arena). This weekend’s games will mark the 104th and 105th meetings between the two schools.

Western Michigan is under the direction of Jim Culhane, who took over as interim head coach with nine games remaining last season. The Broncos return 18 letterwinners from last year’s 15-11-4 team, including 13 forwards. David Gove (9-14-23 last season) is WMU’s top returning scorer, while Jeff Reyneart (3.57, .891 last season) is expected to see the majority of time in goal this year. Western Michigan went 0-1-1 in a home series against Miami last weekend, tieing 3-3 Friday and falling 3-2 on Saturday. Sophomore forward Ryan Crane led the Broncos offensively in the series with two goals and an assist. Gove scored a goal and assisted on another. Reyneart saw all the action in net for WMU, stopping 49-55 shots combined in the two games (six goals allowed).

Ohio State and Western Michigan last met on Jan. 30, 1999 in Value City Arena. OSU rolled to an 8-0 win in that game, which would prove to be the last for former Bronco coach Bill Wilkinson. Jeff Maund earned his third shutout of the season and what would eventually be the final one of his Ohio State career. Hugo Boisvert exploded for four points (1-3-4) in the first period, setting a Value City Arena record that still stands. 11,128 people attended that game, which remains the fifth largest hockey crowd in Arena history.

The youthful Buckeyes made the 3000-plus mile trek to Fairbanks, Alaska, and came away with a split against the Nanooks, winning Friday night 4-2 and falling 5-1 on Saturday. In the win, Andre Signoretti assisted on three goals and Jean-Francois Dufour scored a pair as Ohio State rallied to snap 2-2 tie in the third period. Dufour scored Ohio State’s first (on the power-play) and fourth (short-handed empty-netter) goals, while Mike McCormick scored the game-winner with less than four minutes remaining in the third period. Ray Aho collected his second consecutive win of the season, stopping 29-of-31 shots. The Nanooks came out firing in the series finale, peppering the Ohio State net with 44 shots in a 5-1 win. Eric Meloche scored the lone goal for Ohio State, assisted by Dufour and Jason Crain.

The Buckeyes were whistled for 28 penalties last weekend, leading to a combined total of 17 Alaska-Fairbanks power-plays. The Nanooks scored three power-play goals on the weekend, including a pair in their 5-1 win.

Junior wing Jean-Francois Dufour has scored at least a point in each of Ohio State’s first three games this season. Dufour ranks second on the team in scoring with 3-1-4 totals. In last Friday’s win over Alaska-Fairbanks, he recorded the third two-goal game of his career and his first-ever shorthanded goal. Dufour has had a hand in three of Ohio State’s last five goals.

Signoretti tied a career high with three points in the game last Friday against UAF. Signoretti assisted on three of Ohio State’s four goals while recording a +3 rating and logging over 28 minutes of ice time.

Ray Aho notched his first career assist last Friday against the Nanooks, helping out on Dufour’s short-handed empty-net goal. Aho was solid with goal for the Buckeyes, stopping 68-of-75 (.907) UAF shots combined in the two games. In Saturday’s game, his first loss of the season, Aho made 39 saves, coming just one short of the sixth 40-save game of his career.

Senior Eric Meloche has as many career points against Western Michigan (6-7-13) as he does against any other team in the CCHA. Meloche also has 13 career points (7-6-13) against Lake Superior. Senior defenseman Ryan Skaleski has just seven career points in three years, and three of them have come against WMU. Junior defenseman Jaisen Freeman has scored two of his three career goals against the Broncos.

In the early going, Signoretti is tied for second in the CCHA in scoring (0-5-5). Dufour is tied for fifth with 3-1-4 totals. Meloche leads the league with two power-play goals. Signoretti’s five assists also lead the conference.

The Ohio State power-play has scored one power-play goal in each of its first three games. The Buckeyes are a combined 3-18 (.167) on the power-play. Ohio State has successfully thwarted 22-of-25 (.880) opponent power-play attempts.

Jason Crain, who over the summer became the highest Ohio State NHL draft pick ever (3rd round, Los Angeles Kings), had an assist in each of the two games in Alaska last weekend. Prior to that, Crain recorded a goal and an assist in Ohio State’s exhibition game against Windsor. Unofficially, Crain now has four points in his last three games.

Ohio State captain Ryan Jestadt will celebrate his 23rd birthday Saturday night when the Buckeyes meet the Broncos.

Jean-Francois Dufour and Eric Meloche are yet to register a minus rating in a game so far this season. Meloche is a combined +2, while Dufour is tied for the team lead with a +3 rating.

US College Hockey Online released its annual preseason national poll last week. The Buckeyes received 14 votes in the poll, the 14th most of any school in the country. Boston College topped the poll with 26 of 40 first-place votes. Maine grabbed the No. 2 spot in the poll. Three CCHA teams are ranked in the top 10 – Michigan State (3rd), Michigan (5th), and Northern Michigan (9th).

After three games last year…
…Andre Signoretti had just one point. This season he has 0-5-5 totals.
…Eric Meloche had zero points and was out with an injury. This year he has two goals.
…Jean-Francois Dufour had one assist. This year he has 3-1-4 totals.
…Ryan Jestadt had zero points. This year he is averaging a point per game with 0-3-3 totals.

John Markell improved his career record in CCHA openers to 3-2-0 with last Friday’s win over Alaska-Fairbanks. The Buckeyes have now won two consecutive league openers (4-1 over Lake Superior last season, 4-2 over UAF this season).

Ohio State is just 1-3-0 in CCHA home openers under Markell. The Buckeyes won last year’s league home opener, a 3-1 decision over Michigan State in the OSU Ice Arena. Prior to that Ohio State dropped its home CCHA opener for three straight seasons: Western Michigan in 1997 and 1995 and Notre Dame in 1996.

Former Ohio State captain Dan Counsineau’s brother Dave currently plays for Western Michigan. Cousineau, remembered best for scoring a pair of goals in the 1998 NCAA semifinal against Boston College, will play for Peoria of the East Coast Hockey League this season. Dave Cousineau notched his first collegiate point last weekend against Miami, an assist in the second period of Saturday night’s 3-2 loss.

OSU Ohio State was picked to finish fourth by the media and fifth by the coaches in the annual CCHA preseason polls. The Buckeyes received 356 points in the media poll, 33 less than third place Northern Michigan. OSU also received one first place vote in the media poll, which is voted on by 41 people. The Buckeyes received 93 points in the coaches poll, 11 less than fourth place Notre Dame. The coaches picked Michigan to win the conference, while the media selected Michigan State as the projected champion by the slimmest of margins. Last season, Ohio State was picked to finish second in the CCHA by both the media and the coaches.

Ohio State was No. 17 in The Sporting News preseason rankings. Boston College was ranked No. 1, followed by Minnesota, defending national champion Maine, and Michigan. The rankings, published each year, are solely the opinion of certain Sporting News editorial staff members.

Senior Ryan Jestadt and junior Andre Signoretti were named captains of the 1999-00 OSU hockey team. There will be no assistant captains on this year’s squad. Jestadt, a defenseman from Western Springs, Ill., led all CCHA defensemen in goals scored in league games last season (eight). Signoretti, a defenseman from Manotick, Ont., was a second team all-CCHA selection last season and is best remembered by Ohio State fans for scoring the overtime game-winner in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 1998, sending the Buckeyes to the Frozen Four.

Ohio State is one of only eight schools in the country that have qualified for the last two NCAA Tournaments. The others are New Hampshire, North Dakota, Michigan, Colorado College, Clarkson, Boston College, and Michigan State.

Ohio State has had seven freshmen earn some type of all-Rookie team honors (either first team or honorable mention) the past three seasons, more than any other school in the conference. OSU joins Notre Dame as the only school to place someone on the all-Rookie team for three consecutive seasons (Jason Crain, 1999, Jeff Maund, 1998, Hugo Boisvert, 1997).

For the first time in history, Ohio State will play each of its home games in Value City Arena – the premier collegiate hockey arena in the country. Last season, the Buckeyes played their first five home games in the OSU Ice Arena before moving into Value City Arena in early January. The team went a combined 8-3-1 in the building and averaged 10,206 fans per game.

A minimum of 21 home games highlight this season’s OSU hockey schedule. The Buckeyes will host defending national champion Maine on Oct. 29 and 31. It marks the second straight season and the third time in the last four years that Ohio State has met the defending national champion. Cornell, Colgate, Vermont, Dartmouth, Wayne State, and Mercyhurst are OSU’s non-conference matchups this season. The Buckeyes will face arch-rival Michigan four times – twice at home and twice on the road.

The University of Nebraska-Omaha becomes the 12th member of the CCHA this season. UNO will visit Value City Arena for a pair of games on Nov. 19-20.

The CCHA has adopted a new scheduling format this season and divided the 12 schools into three groups or clusters. Ohio State’s cluster contains Michigan, Bowling Green, and Miami. Schools will play opponents in their own cluster four times – twice at home and twice on the road – and every other CCHA team not in their cluster twice.

Unlike previous years when the league’s top eight teams qualified for the CCHA Playoffs, 10 teams will play in the 2000 CCHA tourney. After the first round when five seeds remain, the lowest two seeds will meet in a single play-in game, with the winner advancing to Joe Louis Arena to complete the CCHA Final Four.

Remember the commemorative jerseys worn for the inaugural game in Value City Arena last season? That look will now become the full-time style for the 1999-00 Buckeyes. The jerseys come in three colors (red, white, and black), each with its own distinct trim, and feature and old-fashioned drawstring tie. Ohio State is the only school in the country that will wear this style of jersey, which was designed by Nike.

Ohio State boasts eight newcomers this season, but it’s the 16 returning letterwinners that head coach John Markell is counting on to lead his team. Ohio State also returns all six regular defensemen from last year’s team.