Feb. 19, 2003

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The No. 9/10-ranked Ohio State men’s hockey team (21-7-3, 15-5-2/2nd CCHA) plays host to Alaska Fairbanks (10-12-6, 7-11-6/t-9th CCHA) for a two-game series in Value City Arena this weekend. The Buckeyes and Nanooks will face off at 7:05 p.m. Friday (Feb. 21) and at 8:05 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 22).

The games this weekend will be broadcast by WOSU Radio (820 AM) and online at with Herb Howenstine (play-by-play) and former Buckeye John Mowat (color) calling the action. Ohio State Student Radio, with Neil Sika and Aaron Stollar on the call, also will broadcast the games at In addition, The Ohio News Network will televise the games live, with Jeff Hogan (play-by-play) and former Buckeye and NHL goalie Bill McKenzie (color) on the call.

The Buckeyes split a series with Miami last week, winning in Oxford, 4-1, before losing, 1-0, Saturday in Cincinnati. The loss ended OSU’s five-game unbeaten and four-game winning streak The team stands in second place in the CCHA, five points behind league-leader Ferris State with two game in hand.

The Buckeyes enter the series with Alaska Fairbanks with a 12-game home winning streak on the line, one short of the program record of 13 set in 1969-70. In addition, the team has won all 10 of its CCHA games in Value City Arena this season and has a 17-game league home unbeaten streak (14-0-3) dating back to last season. Overall this year, the team is 14-1-0 at home, two wins shy of the program record of 16 set in 1971, 1981 and 1984.

The series between the Buckeyes and Nanooks is tied, 13-13-2, with OSU 2-0-1 in the last three games. In Columbus, the Buckeyes hold a 6-3-1 lead. The teams split the last two games in Columbus (Nov. 3-4, 2000), with OSU winning 3-1 and UAF winning in overtime, 4-3.

The Buckeyes (32 points) are in second place in the CCHA with six games remaining, five points behind league-leader Ferris State with two games in hand. Michigan stands in third place one point behind OSU, with Michigan State in fourth. An Ohio State tie or win against Alaska Fairbanks this weekend will clinch home ice for the squad in the first round of the CCHA playoffs.

The Buckeyes’ win over Miami Thursday (Feb. 13) clinched the Ohio Cup for the squad for the first time since the 1999-00 season. OSU was undefeated (4-0-0) in Ohio Cup play during the season, winning two games against both Bowling Green and Miami. The Ohio Cup is awarded annually by the Buckeye Sports Bulletin to the Ohio-based CCHA team with the best record against its instate opponents.

The Buckeyes beat Miami, 4-1, Thursday (Feb. 13) at Goggin Ice Arena in Oxford, Ohio, with four Buckeyes scoring a goal and three others recording two assists each. OSU led 1-0 at the end of the first period after a JB Bittner power-play goal. OSU scored three consecutive goals in the second period, by Daymen Bencharski, Doug Andress (power play) and Chris Olsgard (shorthanded). Dave Steckel, R.J. Umberger and Paul Caponigri each had two assists in the game. The RedHawks broke OSU goalie Mike Betz’s shutout bid with a power-play tally by Nick Jardine at 17:25 of the second period. OSU outshot Miami, 34-24, in the game.

Saturday (Feb. 15) at Cincinnati Gardens in Cincinnati, Miami’s Mike Kompon scored shorthanded 52 seconds into the third period and goalie David Burleigh made 24 saves to lead the RedHawks to a 1-0 victory over the Buckeyes. OSU goalie Mike Betz posted 22 saves in the losing effort to earn third star of the game honors.

Alaska Fairbanks is 10-12-6 on the year and 7-11-6 in league play to stand in a tie for eighth place. The squad had last weekend off and enters the series with the Buckeyes on a three-game unbeaten streak (1-0-2). Blaine Bablitz ranks first for UAF with 12 goals and 23 points, while Jared Sylvestre and Felipe Larranaga are tied for the team lead in assists with 12 each. Sylvestre and Ryan Campbell are tied for second with 10 goals each. Three goalies have seen playing time for the Nanooks this season – Keith Bartusch (7 games played; 2.77 goals-against average; .913 save percentage), Lance Mayes (12 gp; 3.54 gaa; .893 svs.%) and Preston McKay (14 gp; 4.07 gaa; .877 svs.%).

Daymen Bencharski leads Ohio State with five goals and eight points against the Nanooks. Scott May ranks first with five assists vs. UAF.

Ohio State went undefeated on the road at Alaska Fairbanks Oct. 18-19, posting a win and a tie in its first league action of the year. In the first game, the Buckeyes scored six consecutive goals, including five in the third period, to come back from a two-goal deficit and defeat the Nanooks, 6-3. Ten Buckeyes scored at least a point in the game, led by Daymen Bencharski and Ryan Kesler with three points each and Dan Knapp with two goals. The next night (Oct. 19), OSU and UAF tied, 1-1. Knapp scored a goal with less than a minute remaining in the first period and the Nanooks tied the game with less than five minutes remaining in the game. The Buckeyes had a number of scoring chances in the game, outshooting the Nanooks 43-30 and 3-0 in overtime, but were unable to convert.

The Buckeyes split a two-game series with Alaska Fairbanks, Nov. 3-4, 2000 in Value City Arena. OSU won the first game, 3-1. Andre Signoretti led the squad with a goal and added an assist in the game. The Nanooks had a 1-0 lead after the first period, but the Buckeyes scored the last three goals of the game for the victory. R.J. Umberger tallied the game winner 1:29 into the third period. In the second game, UAF scored first before Nick Ganga scored two goals to put OSU up, 2-1. The Nanooks then tallied two-consecutive goals to take the lead, 3-2. Dave Steckel tied the game with 10 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime. However, UAF’s Felipe Larranaga scored 4:23 into overtime to give the Nanooks the win, 4-3.

Guy Gadowsky, a 1989 graduate of Colorado College, is in his fourth season at the helm of the Nanooks. The 2002 CCHA Coach of the Year, he has a career record of 47-68-20.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has an enrollment of 8,468. It originally was founded in 1917 as a land-grant college when Alaska still was a territory. Today it is the northern-most Land, Sea and Space Grant institution in the United State. The 2,250 acre campus is situated on a ridge overlooking the Tanana River valley and the city of Fairbanks, with Mt. McKinley on the horizon.

Fairbanks, Alaska, located 3,029 miles from Columbus, Ohio, is the second largest city in Alaska. It is located in the interior of the state and the population of the city is over 30,000. The city was incorporated Nov. 10, 1903.

Nanook means polar bear in Inupiaq Eskimo.

–>R.J. Umberger, moved on to the second phase.

This season, Umberger leads the Buckeyes and is second in the CCHA with a career-best 43 points. He is a three-time league offensive player of the week honoree and was named the IHCCA National Player of the Month for December. He leads the CCHA and is second in the nation in game-winning goals with six. He has been held scoreless just five times this season and has 10 points in his last six games.

Now through March 9, fans may cast one ballot per day for their first, second and third choices online at The fans’ votes, along with ballots from the 60 Division I college hockey head coaches, will determine the Top 10 finalists, with the list announced March 20.

In the final round of balloting (from March 21-31) voters can cast their ballots ranking the Top 10 candidates one through five once a day. The top selection from the fans will join the ballots from the Selection Committee (comprised of college hockey personnel, pro scouts and media) in determining the award winner. The Hobey Hat Trick, the top three finalists, will be announced April 2. The award recipient will be announced in a live telecast from the NCAA Frozen Four in Buffalo, N.Y. Friday, April 11.

All-America candidate Mike Betz dropped his goals-against average dropped to 2.03 on the season, while his save percentage increased to .914 after allowing just two goals and stopping 45-of-47 shots against Miami. He is the CCHA’s leader in goals-against average both overall and in league games and he ranks third in the nation in the category.

Junior All-America and Hobey Baker Award candidate R.J. Umberger has 43 points on the year, the first time a Buckeye has broken the 40-point barrier since Hugo Boisvert posted 51 in 1998-99. Umberger’s 24 assists also are the most since Boisvert’s 27 in 1999.

The games this weekend are the last games Ohio State will play against teams from its CCHA scheduling cluster. Alaska Fairbanks will end its cluster games with a two-game series against Miami next weekend.

The Buckeye penalty killing has returned to form, stopping 29 of its opponents last 30 chances (96.7 percent). For the year, the team has stopped 87.3 percent of its opponents’ chances to rank second in the CCHA overall and in league games.

To determine CCHA tournament seeding, the tie-breaking procedure is as follows:
1. Most league wins.
2. Head-to-head record.
3. Goal differential in head-to-head games.
4. Record vs. other CCHA teams beginning with first place
5. Coin toss.

Backstopped by Mike Betz, the OSU defense ranks second in the nation, allowing just 1.97 goals per game (Cornell is the leader at 1.48). The Buckeyes lead the CCHA in team defense both overall (1.97) and in conference play (1.86).

Mike Betz now is tied for second all-time in OSU history with 52 career wins. Betz is just two victories short of the OSU all-time record of 54 set by Bill McKenzie from 1970-72. His 2,392 career saves are seventh all-time in OSU history. Dan Stergiou’s mark of 3,261 ranks first.

Chris Olsgard scored a shorthanded goal against the RedHawks Thursday, giving the Buckeyes five shorthanded goals on the season, with each one scored by a different player (R.J. Umberger, Dave Steckel, Paul Caponigri, JB Bittner have the others). It is the most scored in a season by the squad since the 1999 team tallied six goals while skating a man down.

In the last two seasons and through the first 31 games of this season (108 games), the Buckeyes have been shut out just six times total and twice each season. Three of the six shutouts came against Miami (one each season and all three by David Burleigh), including two 1-0 losses. The other teams to blank the Buckeyes are Nebraska-Omaha this season, Michigan last year and Maine in 1999-00.

Chris Olsgard scored a shorthanded goal against Miami Thursday, the first of his Buckeye career.

Ohio State had its string of consecutive power plays stopped at 24 against Miami Thursday. OSU had stopped Western Michigan on 12 chances in the series last weekend, as well as the last nine chances in its series at Notre Dame (one in the opener, 8-for-8 in the finale).

The win over Western Michigan Feb. 8 gave the Buckeyes 20 victories on the season, the 11th time in program history the squad has hit that mark. It is the fourth time John Markell has led the team to at least 20 wins and the second time he has done it in back-to-back seasons.

OSU’s streak of games without a hat trick now stands at 105. The squad has not had a player score three goals since Oct. 21, 2000 vs. Niagara. This season, the Buckeyes have had 11 two-goal games, while last year the squad had a player score twice in a game 17 times.

The Buckeyes close out their regular season with a two-game series against rival Michigan March 7-8 in Value City Arena. The squads will face off at 7:05 p.m. Friday, March 7 and at 8:05 p.m. Saturday, March 8.

The game Saturday marked the 100th career game for Buckeye juniors Dave Steckel, R.J. Umberger and Mike Betz and senior Luke Pavlas.

OSU’s power play in the last five games: 2/1 at ND 1/7 2/7 vs. WMU 1/5 2/8 vs. WMU 2/7 2/13 at Miami 2/5 2/15 vs. Miami 0/4 Totals 6/28 (21.4%)

OSU’s penalty killing in the last five games: 2/1 at ND 8/8 2/7 vs. WMU 8/8 2/8 vs. WMU 4/4 2/13 at Miami 5/6 2/15 vs. Miami 4/4 Totals 29/30 (96.7%)

R.J. Umberger ranks first for the Buckeyes in power-play goals (6), assists (13) and points (19). Scott May is second in assists (12) and points (16). May, Ryan Kesler and Dave Steckel are tied for second with four power-play tallies each.

Junior defenseman Doug Andress leads the Buckeye defensive corps with 6-14-20 totals this season. In addition, he ranks first for the squad with a +17 rating. The Buckeyes are 13-0-2 when Andress records at least one point this season.

After this weekend, the Buckeyes have two two-game CCHA series remaining in the regular season, one on the road at Northern Michigan and one at home against Michigan.

R.J. Umberger, the Buckeyes’ leading scorer the past two seasons, already has career highs for goals (19) and points (43) this season. He has 119 career points to rank 37th all-time, two behind Jean-Francois Dufour’s (1998-2001) 121 points.

The Buckeyes are 4-2-0 in one-goal games this season. The squad’s 1-0 loss to Miami was its first such loss since falling to Ferris State Nov. 23. OSU has a one-goal win in two of its last four outings.

The Buckeyes are outshooting their opponents by an average of 35.8-24.0 shots on goal per game this year. Leading the way is R.J. Umberger, who ranks second in the CCHA with 155 shots this season. Scott May ranks second for OSU with 105, followed closely by Doug Andress with 102.

Sophomore JB Bittner has been on a tear recently, posting points in nine of his last 12 games. During the stretch, he has 6-5-11 totals. Prior to his hot streak, Bittner had been held scoreless in 10 consecutive games.

Sophomore Thomas Welsh saw his first game action of the year against Miami Feb. 13. He had missed the first 31 games of the season after a knee injury over the summer required surgery. Welsh had two shots in his first game back.

The Buckeyes have outscored their opponents in every period this year. The squad’s best period offensively is the third, when it has tallied 39 times. Defensively, the first stanza is the best, as the Buckeyes have allowed just 13 goals.

The Buckeyes are 1-1-3 in overtime this year. The squad win in overtime against Western Michigan Feb. 7 but suffered an overtime loss at Ferris State Nov. 23. Ohio State has tied Alaska Fairbanks, Massachusetts and Notre Dame this year.

The Buckeyes hit the road to face Northern Michigan. The squads will face off at 7:05 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, March 1 at Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich. The Buckeyes are 5-4-2 on the road this year.