Ohio State travels to Minneapolis to face league-leading Golden Gophers Friday and Saturday

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s hockey team, who entered both national polls at the No. 10 spot this week, travels to Minneapolis to face second-ranked Minnesota in the first of back-to-back Western Collegiate Hockey Association road series, Jan. 8-9. Games begin at 6 p.m. (CT) Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday at Ridder Arena.

The Buckeyes (9-7-4, 6-6-2-0 WCHA) are coming off a sweep of Robert Morris in a nonconference home matchup last weekend. This is the first series of 2010 for the Golden Gophers (15-3-2, 11-2-1-1 WCHA), who lead the league with 24 points.

Links to live video, audio and stats also available on the women’s hockey schedule page on
The Big Ten Network will be streaming both games through its site for a fee of $2.99 per game to view.

Ohio State played in its third and final nonconference series of the season, sweeping Robert Morris, Jan. 2-3. The Buckeyes won 4-1 Saturday and 6-1 Sunday at the OSU Ice Rink.

In the first game, Ohio State scored twice in the first and third periods with Robert Morris tallying a goal in the opening stanza. Nine different Buckeyes contributed to the scoring and the OSU defense limited RMU to just six shots in the first 40 minutes.

OSU then built a 4-1 lead in the first period and added a goal in each of the following stanzas for a 6-1 victory to complete the sweep of the Colonials. Five Buckeyes had multiple-point games, led by sophomore forward Melissa Feste with two goals and an assist.

Along with Feste, linemates sophomore Natalie Spooner and freshman Paige Semenza each had a goal and assist as well as plus-4 ratings. Defensemen Kelly Wild and Sandy Nelson each had a career-high two assists.

• This was the first meeting between Ohio State and Robert Morris. The Buckeyes previously faced Mercyhurst, Niagara and Wayne State of the College Hockey America conference.
• This was the second sweep for Ohio State this season, both coming on home ice.
• All six Buckeye defensemen had a point in the RMU series.
• Ohio State is 3-1-2 vs. non-WCHA teams this season.

Ohio State entered the national polls this week for the first time this season at No. 10 in the USA Today/USA Hockey poll and tied for 10th in the USCHO rankings. With two wins last weekend, OSU moved above .500 with a 9-7-4 overall record (6-6-2-0 WCHA).

The Buckeyes have the third-highest scoring offense in the NCAA at 3.40 goals per game as well as the sixth-best power play (20.7%) and penalty kill (89.8%).

Three players have 20 or more points: Hokey Langan (29), Laura McIntosh (22) and Natalie Spooner (22). A total of 12 Buckeyes have notched six or more points. Langan and Spooner lead the team with 11 goals, with Spooner tallying four gamewinners. Langan has 18 assists followed by McIntosh (15) and Raelyn LaRocque (14).

Rookie Chelsea Knapp has started 18 of 20 games in net with a 7-7-4 record, 2.89 GAA and .892 save percentage.

With an assist in each game vs. Robert Morris, Hokey Langan extended her point streak to 14 games to tie for the second-longest streak in Buckeye history. The Chatham, Ontario, native has 24 points (9g, 15a) in that span and is only the second Buckeye to ever post a double-digit point streak. Jana Harrigan (2003-06), Ohio State’s all-time leading scorer, had streaks of 17 games and 14 games during her career.

The Buckeyes will be without freshman Minttu Tuominen and sophomore Natalie Spooner for the Minnesota series while they compete in the 2010 MLP Cup, Jan. 5-9 in Germany.

Following a camp Tuominen participated in while at home, the forward from Espoo, Finland, was named to the Finnish National Women’s Team. Spooner earned a place on the Under-22 Team representing Canada at the event. Spooner was a member of the silver-medal team at the 2009 MLP Cup.

Freshman goalie Chelsea Knapp was selected WCHA Defensive Player of the Week, announced by the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Wednesday. This is the fourth weekly honor collected by a Buckeye this season, the third earned by a freshman, and the first defensive award.

Knapp, a native of York, N.Y., had two solid performances in net, backstopping the Buckeyes to 4-1 and 6-1 victories in a nonconference sweep of Robert Morris, Jan. 2-3 at the OSU Ice Rink. She finished the series with a .947 save percentage and helped the Buckeyes to their second sweep of the season while improving to her winning percentage to .500 at 7-7-4.

In her last four games, Knapp is 3-0-1 with a 1.23 goals-against average and .947 save percentage. She has 89 saves and five goals allowed, including just one goal in each of the last three games.

Rookie forward Hokey Langan is in the midst of an outstanding freshman campaign. Among many notable achievements:
• She leads the Buckeyes in points (29) and assists (18) while tying for the lead in goals (11). Langan has already broken into Ohio State’s top 10 in freshman scoring, ranking sixth.
• She leads all NCAA freshman with 1.45 points per game (good for eighth overall in scoring average in the NCAA). With 29 points, she has a seven-point lead over the next-highest scoring rookie in the nation and is one of just three freshmen with double-digit goals.
• Her 29 points are second the WCHA overall. She is tied for first in assists (18), tied for seventh in goals (11) and tied for sixth in power-play points (9).
• In WCHA-only games, Langan leads the conference with 24 points and 14 assists. She has a 10-point margin over any other rookie in the league.
• She has a Buckeye-best eight multiple-point performances.

The second OSU goal vs. Robert Morris Friday was scored shorthanded by junior Christina Mancuso. The last time the Buckeyes scored a shorthanded goal was Nov. 15, 2008 vs. Minnesota Duluth by Natalie Spooner. It was the only SHG for Ohio State last season.

Mancuso’s goal also snapped her 35-game scoreless streak. Her last goal was scored Nov. 29, 2008 at St. Lawrence.

Against three nonconference opponents this season, Melissa Feste has racked up the points. Among her career-high 10 goals this season, the sophomore from Bloomington, Minn., scored eight of them against non-WCHA foes. She scored twice at Boston University (Oct. 2-3), three vs. St. Lawrence (Nov. 20-21) and three against Robert Morris last weekend. Feste finished with a total of 10 points in nonconference games compared to eight points against WCHA opponents.

Rookie Paige Semenza entered the Robert Morris series with just two points in the first 15 games of her career, but had a stellar weekend contributing three points to help the Buckeyes to a sweep of the Colonials. The Pittston, Pa., product sealed the 4-1 win by setting up the final goal Saturday, then had a season-best two points on a goal and assist in Sunday’s 6-1 victory while also posting a plus-4 rating.

Senior co-captain Raelyn LaRocque has a point in eight of the last 10 games, including a goal in each game vs. Robert Morris. She has at least one point in each of OSU’s 10 series and has not been held without a point in back-to-back games this season.

Natalie Spooner had a goal vs. Robert Morris to break into the Top 10 in Ohio State’s career goals category. She has 32 goals in 50 career games to tie Jennifer Desson (2002-05), who ranks 10th in the Buckeye records. Spooner previously worked her way into Ohio State’s WCHA career records in seventh place with 26 goals against conference opponents.

Spooner has a career-high 11 assists 20 games into this season. She had nine helpers total as a freshman.

The Golden Gophers, 15-3-2, 11-2-1-1 WCHA, have been ranked second in the nation the majority of the season and lead the conference by three points with 24 points. The series vs. Ohio State will be the first game-action for Minnesota in 2010.

Leading the team in points (26), goals (13) and assists (13) is junior Emily West. Five of her goals are gamewinners and three have been scored shorthanded. A total of nine Gophers have double-digit points. In net most of the season has been Noora Raty (12-2-2, 0.89 GAA, .965 sv%) but she will miss the series while playing with the Finnish National Team. Alyssa Grogan has played in five games and is 3-1-0 (3.12 GAA, .870 sv%).

Minnesota leads the all-time series vs. Ohio State with a 37-8-1 record. After splitting five series in a row, the Gophers have won the last eight games dating back to Feb. 8, 2008.

In the teams’ October series at OSU, the Buckeyes were led by Natalie Spooner (1g, 3a) and Hokey Langan (1g, 2a) with Kelly Wild scoring twice.

The second game at St. Cloud State (Dec. 12) was the first game for the Buckeyes with multiple power-play goals since a 2-of-5 performance Oct. 31 vs. Minnesota State. The two PP goals ended a five-game streak without a power play goal, going 0-of-11 in that span.

The Buckeye PP is back over 20 percent with a 20.7 mark (18-of-87) to rank second overall in the WCHA and sixth in the NCAA.

Ohio State’s penalty kill has kept opponents scoreless in 22 of their last 24 attempts, including a perfect 8-of-8 mark vs. Robert Morris. The OSU PK is 88-of-98 for the season for 89.8 percent.

There was history made in the second game against St. Lawrence (Nov. 21). It was the first time in 11 years of Ohio State women’s hockey the Buckeyes did not have a power-play opportunity in a game. They were limited to one the entire series (0-of-1).

Head coach Jackie Barto announced the signing of five recruits to National Letters of Intent for the 2010-11 season.

Name Pos. Ht.  Hometown  Team 
Becky Allis   D 5-8  West Olive, Mich.  Chicago Mission 
Maddie Marcotte   D 5-8  White Bear Lake, Minn.  White Bear Lake 
Lisa Steffes   G 5-4  Amherstburg, Ontario  Bluewater Jr. Hawks 
Annie Svedin   D 5-4  Soraker, Sweden  MODO Örnsköldsvik 
Ally Tarr   F 5-5  London, Ontario  Bluewater Jr. Hawks 

While Ohio State was on winter break, two former Buckeyes were named to their country’s Olympic teams. Lisa Chesson and Tessa Bonhomme will be the first Buckeye women’s hockey products to represent the United States and Canada, respectively, in the Olympics.

Chesson, a defenseman for Ohio State from 2005-08, has been named to the U.S. Olympic Women’s Team, USA Hockey announced in a ceremony Dec. 17. A native of Plainfield, Ill., Chesson participated in the Team USA’s residency program during 2008-09 in Blaine, Minn., and was a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. Women’s National Team at the 2009 IIHF World Women’s Championships last April.

Bonhomme, a two-time All-America defenseman for Ohio State from 2004-08, has been nominated to the Canadian National Women’s Team for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games announced by Hockey Canada Dec. 21. The team will be competing for its third-consecutive gold medal at the Olympics in Vancouver. A native of Sudbury, Ontario, Bonhomme is one of seven members of the team making their first appearance in the Games. 

NOTE: The equipment manager for the U.S. Women’s Olympic Team will be Jim Jeans, equipment manager for the Ohio State women’s hockey team. This is his first Olympics after serving as equipment manager for various U.S. Women’s National and Select Teams over the last three years. Jeans has been equipment manager for the Buckeyes since the 2005-06 season.

Ohio State continues its road swing, traveling to Minnesota State, Jan. 15-16, before returning to Columbus for a three-week homestand.