No. 10 Ohio State BUCKEYES (10-8-2, 4-8-2-2 WCHA) vs.
No. 1 Wisconsin BADGERS (18-2-0, 12-2-0 WCHA)
Friday, Jan. 7 – 7 p.m.  •  Saturday, Jan. 8 – 4 p.m.
OSU Ice Rink  •  Columbus, Ohio  

Live video: Buckeye Vision (
Live audio: Scarlet & Gray Sports Radio (
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 10th-ranked Ohio State women’s hockey team hosts top-ranked Wisconsin in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association matchup in its first set of consecutive series at home this season. Games begin at 7 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday at the OSU Ice Rink and admission, as always, is free.

The Buckeyes (10-8-2, 4-8-2-2) are coming off a sweep of Wayne State in their final non-conference series of the year, while the Badgers (18-2-0, 12-2-0) topped Northeastern, 7-2, and Mercyhurst, 7-4, at the Easton Holiday Showcase in St. Cloud, Minn.

Following the game Saturday, Ohio State will host a “Skate with the Buckeyes” session and sign autographs. Fans can bring their own skates or rent them from the OSU Ice Rink. This is the third of five “Skate with the Buckeyes” sessions this season with the other ones taking place Jan. 22 and Feb. 12.

Saturday also will be “Rock the Rink” in honor of Hockey Day Columbus. The first 50 fans will get an Ohio State tshirt.

Ohio State is averaging 3.06 goals per game, but allowing 2.85 for a slight scoring margin. After starting out strong offensively, the Buckeyes cooled for a bit but then scored seven goals last weekend while pelting Wayne State with 86 shots.

Leading the Buckeyes in points and assists is Laura McIntosh, with 31 and 23, respectively. Natalie Spooner has scored a team-high 17 goals, including six on the power play, and has 24 points. Hokey Langan is second in points, goals and assists with a 11-16-27 line. Patrolling the OSU net is freshman Lisa Steffes, who is 10-8-2 with a 2.76 GAA and .913 save percentage.

The Buckeyes are without junior forwards and assistant captains Natalie Spooner and Laura McIntosh for the Wisconsin series this weekend. They are in Switzerland to compete with the Canadian Under-22 National Team at the 2011 MLP Cup, Jan. 4-8. Ohio State also is without freshman defenseman Annie Svedin, who is playing in the international tournament with the Swedish National Team. Svedin missed the entire Wayne State series, while Spooner and McIntosh missed the second game.

Ohio State closed the books on 2010 on a high note with a sweep of Wayne State, Dec. 30-31 at the OSU Ice Rink. The Buckeyes won 3-2 Thursday and 4-2 Friday in their final non-conference series of the season. Natalie Spooner opened the second half of the season with three points in game one to factor into all of the OSU goals in a 3-2 victory over the Warriors. She set up the first one scored by Paige Semenza and scored the next two, including the gamewinner with 5 minutes left.

In the second game, the teams headed into final period tied at 1-1, but Ohio State scored three goals, including an empty-netter, to pull away for the win. Semenza had a season-high two points and her linemates Tina Hollowell and Kim Theut also had a goal and assist, respectively.

Warrior Series Notes:

  • The Buckeyes finish with a 6-0-0 mark in non-conference action, all against teams from College Hockey America – Robert Morris, Syracuse and Wayne State.
  • Ohio State is 7-2-1 on home ice this season.
  • This was the first meeting between the Buckeyes and Warriors since 2001.
  • Jenna Kilpatrick assisted on the opening goal Friday for her first point of the season.

The Badgers have won their last six games, including victories over nationally-ranked North Dakota and Mercyhurst. Wisconsin’s two losses happened in November: at Minnesota (7-5, Nov. 5) and vs. Minnesota Duluth (3-1, Nov. 28). UW averages 5.25 goals per game to lead the WCHA and rank second in the NCAA, and has the top power play in the nation at 26.5%.

Missing the OSU series this weekend while playing for Canada in the MLP Cup are defensemen Stefanie McKeough and Brittany Haverstock and forwards Mallory Deluce and Carolyne Prevost. The Badgers will still have point leader Meghan Duggan (17-24-41) and top goal-scorer Hilary Knight (23g, 38pts). Brianna Decker (18-18-36) also has over 30 points. The Wisconsin net is patrolled by freshman Alex Rigsby (12-1-0, 2.02 GAA, .914 sv%) and sophomore Becca Ruegsegger (6-1-0, 1.51, .913).

Six of the last eight meetings between Ohio State and Wisconsin have been decided by one goal and three of the last four games have gone into overtime. The Buckeyes defeated the Badgers four times in three series last season, including a sweep at UW in a WCHA First Round matchup. Before last year, Ohio State had just three total wins over Wisconsin in the previous 10 seasons. The Badgers lead the all-time series 41-7-6.

Hokey Langan has scored seven goals and tallied six assists for 13 points in eight games against the Badgers. Two of her goals have been third-period gamewinners and she scored the last-minute game-tying goal in the first meeting this season Oct. 22.

Ohio State has danced in and out of the national rankings this season, but has received votes in both throughout. After ending 2010 out of the both polls, the Buckeyes moved to 10th in the U.S. College Hockey Online standings released Monday and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine rankings published Tuesday. Ohio State has been ranked a total of nine weeks in each poll this year.

Ohio State fell in both games at Wisconsin, Oct. 22-23 in Madison. The Buckeyes lost in overtime by a score of 6-5 Friday before a 5-2 defeat Saturday. After a 1-0 Buckeye lead at the first intermission in game one, it was a barnburner after that with the teams exchanging 10 goals the remaining 40 minutes. Laura McIntosh led the Buckeyes offensively with four points on a goal and three assists. Hokey Langan scored the game-tying goal with 1 minute left in regulation and added two assists for three points, while Natalie Spooner scored the opening two goals for Ohio State. The Buckeye power play was clicking, scoring four of five goals.

The next night, Ohio State cut its deficit to one goal twice in the second period, but Wisconsin pulled away with two goals in the last 3 minutes of regulation, including an empty-netter, for the 5-2 victory.

This season, the Buckeyes have had limited minutes in the penalty box with an average of only 8.5 penalty minutes per game – good for 27th in the nation and the second-lowest average in the WCHA overall. Ohio State has drawn four or fewer penalties in 11 its games so far this season.

The average is a stark contrast to the last four seasons when the Buckeyes have placed in the top 10 in the NCAA in PIM, peaking at 15.3 in 2006-07 and with an average of 13.8 in that span.

Junior forward Natalie Spooner is only two points away from her 100th, with 60 goals and 38 assists in 80 career games. The Scarborough, Ontario, native has six multiple-goal performances, including one against Wayne State Dec. 30, and has tallied two or more points 11 times this year in 15 games played.

The Buckeyes are back on the road, traveling to Minnesota State for a WCHA series Jan. 14-15. Games begin at 7 p.m. (CT) Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday at All Seasons Arena in Mankato, Minn.