Oct. 8, 2002
Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader
The No. 15-ranked Ohio State men’s hockey team (0-0-0, 0-0-0 CCHA) hits the road to open its season against defending NCAA champion and No. 1-ranked Minnesota (0-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) in the Hall of Fame Game. The Buckeyes and Gophers will face off at 8:05 p.m. EDT Saturday, Oct. 12, in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. The game will be broadcast live on WOSU (820 AM) and can be heard online at wosu.org with Herb Howenstine (play-by-play) and John Mowat (color) on the call. The game also will be televised by FoxSports North.
About the Rink
The Xcel Energy Center, located in St. Paul, Minn., is home to the Minnesota Wild of the National Hockey League.
The Buckeyes will play in another NHL rink this season. Ohio State and Princeton will face off in Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, home of the Penguins, Jan. 3.
The Series Vs. Minnesota
Ohio State trails the all-time series against Minnesota, 1-7-0, and stopped a seven-game losing streak to the Gophers with a win in the last meeting.
The Series 12/26/68 L 1-10 N1 12/22/69 L 0-4 N2 12/20/78 L 4-10 A 12/21/78 L 0-3 A 1/2/81 L 5-6 A 1/3/81 L 2-6 A 10/10/98 L 3-4 A3 12/28/98 W 6-5 A4 1Big Ten Tournament, Madison, Wis. 2Big Ten Tournament, Ann Arbor, Mich. 3IceBreaker Cup, Minneapolis, Minn. 4Mariucci Classic, Minneapolis, Minn.
Keeping It Close
Three of the last four games between the Buckeyes and Gophers have been decided by one goal.
A Look at the Gophers
Minnesota is the defending NCAA champion after defeating Maine in overtime in the championship game, 4-3. The squad was 32-8-4 last season and finished third in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with a mark of 18-7-3. A number of key players return for the squad, including junior forward Troy Riddle, who posted 16-31-47 totals last season, and defenseman Paul Martin (8-30-38). Among the players gone from the national championship team are Hobey Baker winner Jordan Leopold, and John Pohl, the nation’s top-leading scorer. Another loss for the team is goalie Adam Hauser, the all-time leader in wins and games played in the WCHA. The Gophers were picked to finish second in the WCHA Preseason Coaches Poll.
The Gopher Coach
Don Lucia, a 1981 graduate of Notre Dame, is in his fourth season at the helm of the Golden Gophers. He enters the year with a record of 79-40-8 at Minnesota and is 358-195-37 all-time in his career. He also spent time at Alaska Fairbanks and Colorado College.
The last time Ohio State faced the defending NCAA champion the next season was in 1999-00, when the Buckeyes played host to Maine for a two-game series in Columbus. Maine, who beat the Buckeyes en route to the 1998-99 national title, swept the Buckeyes in that series, winning, 3-2 Oct. 29 and 3-1 Oct. 31.
The Last Meeting
A recap of the last meeting between Ohio State and Minnesota, the consolation game of the 1998 Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis (Dec. 28, 1998):
Ohio State dominated Minnesota for the first 40 minutes of the game, grabbing a 4-1 lead after the second period on goals by Neal Rech, Nick Ganga, Chris Richards and Vinnie Grant. Two early Gopher goals in the third cut the deficit to one (4-3), but Hugo Boisvert tipped in a rebound goal on the power play to give the Buckeyes a 5-3 lead. Minnesota again answered, scoring two goals in a 2:29 span to tie the game. In the waning seconds of the game, defenseman Scott Titus grabbed a loose puck in the Minnesota zone and tipped it to Jean-Francois Dufour. Dufour skated nearly the length of the ice before passing to Eric Meloche who one-timed the puck through the Minnesota goalie’s five-hole with 6.7 seconds remaining. Meloche had a goal and an assist in the telling third period. Jeff Maund made 42 saves in the win. Minnesota outshot OSU 47-35. Richards notched a goal and two assists in the win.
Lots Of New Faces
Just two Buckeyes, fifth-year seniors Scott Titus and Ryan Smith, have faced Minnesota. As freshmen, they each posted an assist against the Gophers. Titus appeared in both games between OSU and UM in the 1998-99 season, and Smith played in just the first contest before receiving a medical redshirt for the year.
All-time, Ohio State is 22-15-2 in regular season openers, including a mark of 7-2-1 in its last 10. The Buckeyes are 3-3-1 in regular season openers under eighth-year head coach John Markell.
Ohio State is ranked 15th in both the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine and uscho.com polls released Oct. 8. Minnesota, the defending NCAA champion, is first in both polls. The Buckeyes are one of four CCHA schools in the Top 15 – No. 3 Michigan, No. t-6/7 Michigan State and No. 11/12 Northern Michigan are the others.
OSU’s Last Time Out
The Buckeyes beat Waterloo, 6-2, in an exhibition game Oct. 4 at CoreComm Ice Haus in Columbus. Junior R.J. Umberger led the squad with four points, on two goals and two assists, while junior Daymen Bencharski contributed a goal and two helpers for three points. Freshmen Nate Guenin and Dan Knapp and junior Dave Steckel scored the other goals for Ohio State.
The game against Waterloo marked the first collegiate appearances for all five OSU freshmen. Dan Knapp led the group with a goal and an assist, as well as a +4 rating. Defenseman Nate Guenin also scored a goal, while forwards Ryan Kesler and Rod Pelley did not score. Goalie Dave Caruso played the last 11:15, making two saves and holding Waterloo scoreless.
After a trip to face the Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks Oct. 18-19, the Buckeyes will open their home slate in Value City Arena with a two-game series against Clarkson. The squads will meet at 7:05 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25 and at 3:05 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27.
The Buckeyes were picked fourth in both the CCHA preseason coaches and media polls. The polls, which were identical, had Michigan first.
The complete polls:
2. Michigan State
3. Northern Michigan
4. Ohio State
6. Alaska Fairbanks
7. Notre Dame
8. Western Michigan
9. Ferris State
11. Bowling Green
12. Lake Superior State
This Summer …
Junior Scott May (seventh round, Toronto Maple Leafs),sophomore John Toffey (ninth round, Tampa Bay Lightning) andfreshman Nate Guenin (fourth round, New York Rangers) all wereselected in the NHL Entry Draft. Junior Mike Betz traveled toTanzania with a group to help build schools, among other volunteeractivities. Freshman goalie Dave Caruso participated in the NHLAtlanta Thrashers Prospects Camp.
In The Hockey News (Oct. 11 edition), the Buckeyes were picked to finish third in the CCHA. In addition, junior R.J. Umberger was predicted second as the league MVP and Mike Betz was No. 3 among the league’s top goalies. Buckeye freshman Ryan Kesler was selected as the No. 1 2003 NHL draft prospect in the league. Umberger was tied for second among the top NHL drafted players.
Senior Scott Titus will serve as the captain for the team this season and senior Eric Skaug and junior R.J. Umberger will be the alternate captains for the squad.
Titus, a defenseman, has played in 115 games with the Buckeyes and was on the 1999 squad that advanced to the NCAA tournament. He sat out his junior season while recovering from arm surgery and received the 2002 CCHA Terry Flanagan Memorial Award, given annually to an upperclassman who has overcome some type of personal adversity and is active on the university campus and surrounding community. An outstanding student, Titus graduated with a B.S. in biology in Spring 2002 and began graduate school in education in the summer. He is a two-time Academic All-CCHA honorable mention and Academic All-Big Ten honoree and a four-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete. He enters the year with 19 career points, including 16 assists.
Skaug, also a defenseman, has played in 70 games for the Buckeyes, posting 3-15-18 totals. He has been solid for the squad over the past two seasons, recording a combined plus/minus rating of +14. Skaug had to sit out the 2000 season and the first eight contests of 2001 because of prior major junior experience, but has not missed a game since.
Umberger, a forward, has led the Buckeyes in scoring the past two seasons. The 2001 CCHA Rookie of the Year, he was a first-round draft choice (16th overall) of the Vancouver Canucks in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He enters this season with 76 points in his career, including 32 goals and 44 assists. Last season, Umberger posted a career-best 39 points (18-21).
The Buckeyes returned 20-of-23 letterwinners from the squad last year. The only losses entering the year were then-seniors Jason Crain, Yan Des Gagne and Mike McCormick. In addition, Dave Caruso, who redshirted the second half of the season, Lee Spector, who saw action in six games, and Jack Popiel and Peter Wishloff who were on the roster but did not see any game time, also return.
The Recent Losses
Prior to the season, two returning letterwinners were declared medically ineligible for the 2002-03. Sophomore Thomas Welsh injured his knee over the summer, requiring season-ending surgery. Senior T.J. Latorre ended his hockey career because of shoulder injuries.
Four freshmen have been added to the Buckeyes roster for the 2002-03 season. Defenseman Nate Guenin (Aliquippa, Pa./Green Bay Gamblers) and forwards Ryan Kesler (Livonia, Mich./U.S. National Under-18 Team), Dan Knapp (Rochester, Mich./Detroit Compuware Ambassadors) and Rod Pelley (Kitimat, British Columbia/Vernon Vipers) are the newest Buckeyes. In addition, goalie Dave Caruso (Roswell, Ga./Boston Bulldogs) will see his first action with the squad. He enrolled in Ohio State last January and practiced with the Buckeyes, redshirting the season.
The Leaders Return
Seven of the Buckeyes Top 9 scorers from last season are back for the squad. Among the returnees is R.J. Umberger, who led the squad in goals (18), assists (21) and points (39). Paul Capongri (13-17) and Scott May (12-18) tied for second with 30 points and are back, as is Daymen Bencharski who was fourth with 25 points and ranked second with 15 goals. Dave Steckel, who led the team in penalties (32) and penalty minutes (75) also returns. Goalie Mike Betz, who posted a goals-against average of 2.60 and a save percentage of .900 while playing in every game, also is back.
Goalie Mike Betz set the Ohio State program record for shutouts in a season with five last year. In his career Betz has six shutouts, four behind Bill McKenzie’s program record of 10.
Looking for Two
Buckeye junior Scott May has 48 points in his career, just two away from the 50-point mark. In his career, May has 21-27-48 totals in 77 games. He has not missed a game in his Buckeye career.
2 x 2 x 2 x 2 …
The Buckeyes have gone 77 regular-season games without a hat trick. Last year, a Buckeye scored two goals in a game 17 times. R.J. Umberger ranked first with five, followed by Paul Caponigri and Daymen Bencharski with three and Dave Steckel with two. Mike McCormick, Pete Broccoli, JB Bittner and Scott May each have one two-goal game. The last Buckeye hat trick was Nov. 21, 2000.
In The Books
With his three wins in the playoffs, OSU sophomore goalie Mike Betz moved into the eighth spot in the Buckeyes all-time goalie wins list with 36. Mike Betz’s 20 wins last season tied for fourth most in a single season in OSU history with Jeff Maund. It was just the fifth 20-win season for an OSU goalie in program history.
This season, there are five Buckeyes on the roster who have been selected in the NHL Entry Draft.
Juniors Dave Steckel (1st round, Los Angeles Kings) and R.J. Umberger (1st round, Vancouver Canucks) were selected in the 2001 draft and Nate Guenin (4th round, New York Rangers), Scott May (7th round, Toronto Maple Leafs and John Toffey (9th round, Tampa Bay Lightning) were drafted this past summer. Umberger is the highest draft pick in Ohio State history, as he was selected with the 16th overall pick.
The Buckeyes’ first win during the regular season will be the 600th in program history. Entering the 2002-03 season, OSU is 599-643-86 all-time.
Four returning Buckeyes changed their numbers prior to the start of this season. JB Bittner went from No. 8 to No. 73, while Thomas Welsh took over No. 8. Dave Caruso now is No. 1 and goalie Pete Wishloff returned to his old number, 81.
Assistant coach Casey Jones was promoted to Associate Head Coach over the summer. Jones is entering his eighth year at Ohio State.
The Results Are In
The NCAA compiled all-time national statistics for Division I hockey over the summer and former Buckeye Paul Pooley is ranked in a number of categories. Pooley is 11th in assists in a season (64), tied for 19th in points in a season (96), tied for 20th in career points (270), 26th in career assists (156) and tied for 28th in career goals (114). Pooley, who played for Ohio State from 1981-84, was the national and CCHA player of the year in 1984.
Catch the Game
The CCHA recently announced the March 8 Ohio State vs. Michigan game will be televised by FoxSports Detroit as part of the league’s television package. In all, 13 games will be televised.
Fifth-year senior Ryan Smith, who spent the majority of his Buckeye career as a forward, will play defense for the squad this season. In 2001-02, Smith played two games at defense, posting an even rating.
Among the Best
Junior R.J. Umberger ranks fourth in scoring among players returning to the CCHA this season. Last year, the Buckeye ended the year tied for eighth with 39 points. Michigan’s John Shouneyia, who was second last season, is the top returning scorer with 50 points a year ago.
Back in Town
Former Buckeye goalie Kurt Brown has returned to the team this season as the volunteer coach. Brown, a four-year letterwinner (1992-96), is enrolled in OSU’s Fisher College of Business MBA program.
A Look Back
Last season, the Buckeyes ended the year 20-16-4 overall and tied for seventh in the CCHA with a mark of 12-12-4. The team had an outstanding run in the CCHA tournament, upsetting Western Michigan on the road to advance to the CCHA Super Six at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. In the quarterfinals, OSU scored the last three goals of the game, including Chris Olsgard’s overtime winner, to top Alaska Fairbanks, 6-5. The Buckeyes’ season ended with a 2-1 overtime loss to Michigan in the CCHA semifinals.