Dec. 26, 2001
The No. 15 Ohio State men’s hockey team (9-6-1, 6-5-1 CCHA) returns to action at the second annual Everblades College Hockey Classic. The Buckeyes will face No. 11 Maine (8-5-3, 4-2-1 Hockey East) in the first round at 7:35 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29, with No. 12 Northern Michigan (9-6-1, 6-5-1 CCHA) and No. 8 Cornell (8-2-1, 4-1-1 ECAC) facing off in the first game of the day at 4:05 p.m. The championship game will be at 7:35 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 30 and the consolation game will be at 4:05 p.m. that same day. All games will take place in TECO Arena in Estero, Fla., in the Naples area.
The games in the Everblades College Classic will not be broadcast by WOSU (820 AM). Fans can listen to the Ohio State-Maine matchup on-line by going to www.GoBlackBears.com and following the links.
Just the Facts
The Everblades College Hockey Classic will be played at TECO Arena, the home of the Florida Everblades of the East Coast Hockey League. Participating in the tournament this year are two members of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, Ohio State and Northern Michigan, Hockey East’s Maine and Cornell of the Eastern College Athletic Conference. Ohio State and Maine and NMU and Cornell face off in first-round action, with the winners advancing to the championship game and the losers moving on to the consolation game.
The Buckeyes participated in the first Everblades College Hockey Classic last year. Ohio State lost both of its games by one goal, falling to Cornell in the first-round matchup in overtime, 5-6, and losing to Clarkson, 6-7, in the consolation game.
Buckeye sophomore Paul Caponigri was named to the 2000 Everblades College Classic All-Tournament Team after posting three points, on two goals and an assist, in the tourney.
A Look at the Buckeyes
Through 16 games this season, Ohio State has put together a record of 9-6-1. In CCHA play, the Buckeyes are 6-5-1. The squad had a four-game winning streak earlier in the season after consecutive sweeps of Wayne State and Northern Michigan. The Buckeyes are ranked No. 15 in the most recent USCHO.com poll.
Sophomore R.J. Umberger leads the Buckeyes in scoring with 16 points and ranks first in goals with eight. He and senior Mike McCormick are tied for the team lead with eight assists each. McCormick ranks first in penalties (17) and sophomore Dave Steckel is first with 43 penalty minutes. Senior Jason Crain is first with a +7 mark.
The Buckeyes were swept on the road at Ferris State, Dec. 14-15, in their last action. The first night, Ferris State scored two goals in the first period and never gave up the lead, defeating Ohio state, 5-2. The Buckeyes tallied twice in the second, but the Bulldogs responded with a goal each time. R.J. Umberger led the Buckeyes, scoring both goals, while Mike McCormick, Jason Crain and JB Bittner each had an assist. In the second game, the Buckeyes lost, 3-2. Ohio State scored two goals in the third period but could not get the would-be tying goal to go in. John Toffey and Paul Caponigri scored for Ohio State.
Senior defenseman Jason Crain is serving as the captain for the Buckeyes this season. Crain, a native of Natrona Heights, Pa., is a 1999 draft choice of the Los Angeles Kings. He has played in 128 career games, posting 9-32-41 totals and a +5 rating.
Where Are Umberger and Steckel?
Buckeye sophomores Dave Steckel and R.J. Umberger were named to the U.S. National Junior Team that is competing in the 2002 IIHF World Junior Championships. This marks the second time the tandem, the first Buckeyes ever named to the squad, will represent the United States in the tournament. The 10-team tournament, which includes the top players under 20 in the world, will be held Dec. 25, 2001-Jan. 5, 2002 in the cities of Hradac Kralove/Pardubice in the Czech Republic.
The First Rounders
Over the summer, Buckeye sophomores R.J. Umberger and Dave Steckel were drafted in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, becoming the highest draft picks in Ohio State history. Umberger was selected 16th by the Vancouver Canucks, with the Los Angeles Kings selecting Steckel with the 30th pick.
How Have the Holidays Been?
The Buckeyes are 12-10-2 in holiday tournament games since 1980. The last time Ohio State claimed a holiday tournament championship was in 1995, when the Buckeyes defeated Colgate and Clarkson to capture the Syracuse Invitational.
Ohio State vs. Maine – The Series
The Buckeyes trail in the all-time series with Maine, 1-9-0. The Buckeyes’ first win over the Black Bears came in Orono last season, when Scott May tallied in overtime to lift OSU to a 3-2 victory.
The Series: 10/28/00 L 0-2 A 10/27/00 W OT 3-2 A 10/31/99 L 1-3 H 10/29/99 L 2-3 H 3/26/99 L 2-4 N* 12/29/92 L 4-9 N 11/4/89 L 3-5 A 11/3/89 L 1-10 A 11/5/88 L 2-10 H 11/4/88 L 4-6 H *NCAA Tournament
Scouting the Black Bears
No. 11-ranked Maine enters the game with the Buckeyes with an overall record of 8-5-3, 4-2-1 in Hockey East play. The team is led offensively by Hockey East Rookie of the Month Colin Shields, who has posted 22 (16g, 6a) points in 16 games. His 16 goals are the third-highest in the country and he is tied for best in the nation with eight power-play goals. Niko Dimitrakos and Tom Reimann also are averaging better than a point a game, with 20 points each. In net, Mike Morrison is leading the team with a 1.97 goals-against average in 10 games played. As a team, the Black Bears are third in the nation with an offense averaging 4.38 goals per game. Their team defense is tied for 13th with 2.69.
The Buckeyes and Black Bears are tied for 14th in the nation with penalty killing percentages of 85.1 overall.
Ohio State in the Nation
The Buckeyes are tied for eighth in the nation (with Northern Michigan), allowing an average of 2.38 goals per game. Ohio State’s average of 21.00 penalty minutes per game is sixth in the country.
Ohio State goalie Mike Betz is having a solid season. He ranks second in the CCHA (behind reigning Hobey Baker Award winner Ryan Miller) in goals-against average (2.10) and save percentage (.925). His gaa is 11th in the country. Betz, who is fourth in the nation in minutes played (970:50), is third with three shutouts on the season. Earlier this season Betz moved into the Top 10 all-time at Ohio State in goalie wins with 25.
Shutting Them Down
The Buckeyes rank tied for second in the CCHA (all games) in scoring defense, allowing 2.38 goals per game. In 16 games, the squad has shut its opponents out three times, allowed one goal two times and given up two goals three times. Last season, Ohio State allowed its opponents 3.2 goals per game.
The Need to Light The Lamp
The Buckeyes are struggling to find offense this season, as they are averaging 2.8 goals per game. In their last four games, Ohio State has scored eight goals, an average of 2.0 a game.
The Buckeyes gave up five goals to Ferris State in the opening game of the series, breaking a streak of eight games when their opponents were held to three goals or less.
When it’s Close
The Buckeyes have played in eight one-goal games this season, posting a mark of 6-2 in those contests. Six of the Buckeyes’ nine wins have been by one goal, while two others have been two-goal victories. Combined, Ohio State has won by an average of 2.1 goals. Not including the Buckeyes’ 9-0 victory over Wayne State, OSU has outscored its opponents by 1.25 goals in those eight wins. The squad’s one-goal losses were to Miami Nov. 30 and to Ferris State Dec. 15.
JB Bittner leads the Buckeye freshmen with seven points, on four goals (including two game-winners) and three assists. John Toffey ranks second among the rookies with two goals and three assists for five points. The other Buckeye freshmen to see action in a game – Thomas Welsh and Lee Spector – both have one point on the season. Welsh had the power-play gamewinner in Ohio State’s 1-0 win over Nebraska-Omaha and Spector had an assist vs. Wayne State.
The Buckeyes opened the season with a mark of 9-4-1 in their first 14 games for the second consecutive year. That mark is the best start to open a season since 1983-84. Last year, Ohio State ended the season 17-18-2 after its 9-4-1 start.
Spike On A Streak
Senior forward Mike McCormick leads the Buckeyes with a three-game scoring streak, posting an assist in each of the last three games.
The Info on Shots On Goal
This season, the Buckeyes are 4-5-1 when outshooting their opponents and 5-1-0 when being outshot. In the last five games, Ohio State has recorded more shots on goal than its opponents, posting a mark of 2-3 in those games.
Road, Sweet Road
For the second consecutive year, the Buckeyes did not have a home game in the month of December. The Buckeyes will play host to nine games in Value City Arena in the second half of the season.
To the Net
For complete information on Ohio State men’s hockey, as well as the 34 other Buckeye sports, go online to ohiostatebuckeyes.com. Press releases, game recaps and complete statistical information is available on the site.
Vote for Hobey
Fan balloting now is open for the Hobey Baker Award. To nominate an athlete, go online to www.voteforhobey.com and follow the prompts. Candidates receiving at least 25 nominations will become eligible to receive votes in the second phase (Finalist Selection).
The Buckeyes hit the road to face the Western Michigan Broncos Jan. 4-5 in Kalamazoo, Mich. Following that series, the Buckeyes will end their stretch of seven consecutive road games when they play host to Lake Superior State Jan. 11-12 in Value City Arena.