Nov. 8, 2006

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s hockey team (2-5-1, 2-3-1 CCHA) faces Western Michigan (3-4-0, 2-4-0 CCHA) in a two-game Central Collegiate Hockey Association series in Columbus Thursday and Friday. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m. The contest Thursday will take place at OSU’s usual home of Value City Arena while the Friday game will be played at the Ohio Expo Center on the Ohio state fairgrounds.

Because of the 12-team BCA Classic men’s basketball tournament being held at Value City Arena Nov. 10-12, the men’s hockey team will play Western Michigan Friday at Ohio Expo Center on the Ohio state fairgrounds. Tickets will be available for purchase at the site for their usual prices of $11, $8 or $6.

Ohio State last played at the Ohio Expo Center during the 1997-98 season, when the squad played five games there, going 2-2-1.

Ohio State took one point in the CCHA series vs. Notre Dame Nov. 3-4 at Value City Arena. The Buckeyes tied the Fighting Irish 1-1 Saturday after a 4-2 loss Friday evening. The tie was the first of the season for both Ohio State and Notre Dame. It was the second overtime for both teams. OSU is now 8-3-1 in their last 12 meetings with Notre Dame.

Western Michigan played in a single nonconference game last weekend, defeating Wayne State by a score of 4-0 Saturday in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Western Michigan leads the all-time series with Ohio State with a 60-55-8 mark. The Buckeyes holds a slight edge (31-28-4) in games that take place in Columbus. Ohio State has won six of the last 10 meetings, including a sweep of the last two games played at Value City Arena. The Buckeyes topped WMU by scores of 4-3 and 7-0 Jan. 28-29, 2005.

The Broncos were victorious both their games against OSU last season. In its only series in 2005-06, WMU won 5-1 and 5-4 in Oct. 28-29 in Kalamazoo, Mich.

This is the fourth Central Collegiate Hockey Association series for the Broncos this season. They have played in only one nonconference game, defeating Wayne State, 4-0, last Saturday.

Western Michigan is one point behind Ohio State in the CCHA standings with a 2-4-0 league record.

A total of seven Broncos have scored a goal this season, led by Mark Letestu and Brian Bicek with four apiece. Letestu also leads the team in points (9) and assists (5). Bicek and Paul Szczechura, the top returning scorer from last season, are tied for second at six points.

Western Michigan opened 2006-07 with a bang, splitting a home-and-home series with then-No. 3/4 Michigan State. After falling to the Spartans, 4-1, in East Lansing, the Broncos recorded a 3-2 upset in Kalamazoo.

The 4-0 victory against Wayne State Nov. 4 was WMU’s first home shutout in four seasons. Freshman goaltender Riley Gill stopped all 26 shots faced and Bicek scored a pair of goals. Jeff Pierce (1g, 2a), Letestu (2a) and Szczechura (2a) also had multiple-point games.

Gill has started twice for the Broncos while junior netminder Daniel Bellissimo has started the other five. Gill is 2-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .952 svpct. Bellissimo is 1-4-0 with a 4.03 GAA and .851 svpct.

Jim Culhane is in his eighth year at the helm of the Broncos. A 1987 graduate of Western Michigan, he has guided the team to a 114-141-29 record while behind the bench.

Offensively against the Irish, the Buckeyes were led by junior Tommy Goebel, who scored two of OSU’s three goals in the series – his first series since the season-opener Oct. 13-14. Goebel opened the scoring for Ohio State Friday with a goal 5:16 into the second period. He followed with the game-tying power play goal Saturday with just 2:22 remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime where the teams skated to a 1-1 tie.

Goebel has scored a goal in each of the four games he has played this season. He is now tied for the team goal lead with senior Mathieu Beaudoin with four apiece. The goal Saturday was Goebel’s first game-tying and power play lamplighter of the season. He also has a gamewinner and a shorthanded goal.

Freshman goaltender Joseph Palmer played in five-of-six periods against Notre Dame last wekend and held the then-No. 10 Fighting Irish to their lowest goal total of the season in a 1-1 tie Saturday. Notre Dame was averaging 5.5 goals per game entering the contest. He made a season-high 32 saves in the game, including 10 on the penalty kill in a 6-for-7 performance. Palmer stopped all six shots faced in the overtime session to preserve the tie. For the series, Palmer stopped 47 of 50 shots faced for a .940 save percentage.

Junior defenseman Jason DeSantis continues to lead the team in points and assists through eight games. After struggling with injuries throughout last season, DeSantis has found the scoring touch this season. He assisted Saturday on the game-tying power play goal for his seventh helper of the season and eighth point. DeSantis is tied for 11th in the nation in defenseman scoring with 1.00 points per game. In the CCHA, he is tied for fourth in defenseman scoring (8 pts), tied for ninth in assists (7) and tied for 10th in power play points (5).

Junior defenseman Johann Kroll picked up his third assist of the season last Friday against the Irish. Kroll is just two assists shy of tying his career high for assists set last season. He had five helpers in 39 games as a sophomore.

Four Buckeyes have combined for five three-point performances this season. Matt McIlvane has posted two three-point games while Kenny Bernard, Dominic Maiani and Mathieu Beaudion have each recorded one. In 39 games last season, Ohio State had a player tally three points just six times.

Through eight games this season, 15 different Buckeyes have notched at least one point, however just five players have scored both a goal and an assist. Six have tallied an assist but no goal while four have scored goals but have no assists.

The Buckeyes continue their stretch of Central Collegiate Hockey Association games by traveling to Bowling Green Nov. 17-18 for a two-game series. Games begin at 7:05 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.