Ohio State BUCKEYES (12-10-2, 6-10-2-2 WCHA) vs.
#5 Minnesota GOLDEN GOPHERS (16-6-1, 11-6-1-1 WCHA)
Friday, Jan. 21 – 7 p.m.  •  Saturday, Jan. 22 – 4 p.m.
OSU Ice Rink  •  Columbus, Ohio

Live video: Buckeye Vision (
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Coming off its first conference road sweep of the year, the Ohio State women’s hockey team faces off against fifth-ranked Minnesota in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series Jan. 21-22 in Columbus. Games begin at 7 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday at the OSU Ice Rink and admission, as always, is free.

Both teams enter the weekend coming off big series. The Buckeyes (12-10-2, 6-10-2-2) picked up two come-from-behind 3-2 victories at Minnesota State in Mankato–revenge for an earlier home sweep by the Mavericks. The Golden Gophers (16-6-1, 11-6-1-1) battled archrival Minnesota Duluth to a 2-2 tie, winning the shootout, then shut out the nationally-ranked Bulldogs 3-0.

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 fourth of five “Skate with the Buckeyes” sessions this season with the last one taking place Feb. 12.

Ohio State is averaging 3.04 goals per game while allowing 3.00 for a slight scoring margin. The Buckeye special teams are operating at 17.9 percent on power play (17-of-95) and 83.1 percent on penalty kill (69-of-83).

Leading the Buckeyes in points and assists is Laura McIntosh, with 34 and 24, respectively. Natalie Spooner has scored a team-high 19 goals, including six on the power play, and has 26 points. Hokey Langan is second in points, goals and assists with a 13-16-29 line. Patrolling the OSU net is freshman Lisa Steffes, who is 12-10-2 with a 2.89 GAA and .910 save percentage.

Ohio State posted two come-from-behind victories to sweep Minnesota State in a road series Jan. 14-15 at All Seasons Arena in Mankato, Minn. The Buckeyes won both games by scores of 3-2. Ohio State, which entered the series tied with the Mavericks in the conference standings, picked up six much needed points in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. It was also a little revenge for an earlier matchup this season in which Minnesota State came to Columbus and won both games.

Down 2-1 in the third period the first game, Ohio State scored twice in the last 5 minutes to rally for the win. Natalie Spooner tallied the gamewinner with 1:12 left in regulation to pick up her 100th career point after opening the scoring for the Buckeyes in the first period. Laura McIntosh scored the game-tying goal with just 4:32 left in regulation. It was the first WCHA win for the Buckeyes since Nov. 27 (3-1 vs. Bemidji State).

The next day, the Buckeyes rallied once again from a one-goal deficit in the third period for the 3-2 victory to complete the sweep of Minnesota State. Trailing 1-0 with 20 minutes to play, Ohio State came back in the opening five minutes of the third period. Kim Theut evened things up 1:37 into the stanza then Shannon Reilly gave OSU its first lead at 4:27. The Mavericks battled back to tie the score again at 10:41, but just 32 seconds later, the Buckeyes regained the lead for the final time when McIntosh buried the puck on a one-timer.

Maverick Series Notes:

  • The games were Ohio State’s first wins this season after trailing at the second intermission (2-6-1).
  • The Buckeyes picked up their first sweep of a WCHA opponent since mid-October.
  • Ohio State and Minnesota State split their season series at 2-2-0.
  • The Buckeyes are 19-3-2 in Mankato and lead the all-time series with MSU at 39-9-4.
  • Tina Hollowell had a season-high and tied her career-high with two assists in game two. It was her second multi-point outing this year.

Natalie Spooner became the seventh Buckeye to reach the 100-point milestone last Friday with her two goals at Minnesota State. She is the second player to become a member of the Century Club this year and is the second-fastest Buckeye to do so, reaching it in 81 games – just one behind Laura McIntosh.

Spooner also moved into third in the Ohio State career goals category with 62 and now owns the Buckeye record for career game-winning goals with 11. She has seven multiple-goal performances and has tallied two or more points 11 times this year in 17 games played. Of her team-leading 19 goals, six have been scored on the power play and four are gamewinners.

The Gophers are unbeaten in their last seven games at 6-0-1, including a win and tie last weekend against Minnesota Duluth in Minneapolis, as well as two wins over Ohio State in December. Minnesota is second in the WCHA standings with 35 points at 11-6-1-1 (16-6-1 overall).

Three of the top four point leaders for the Gophers are freshmen, including Amanda Kessel with a team-high 25 points (8g, 17a). Just behind her is Kelly Terry (10-14-24) and Sarah Davis has 18 points (6g, 12a). In that mix is junior Sarah Erickson, who has a team-best 11 goals and totals 19 points. In the Minnesota net for most of the season is sophomore Noora Räty, who is 15-4-1 with a 1.38 GAA, .951 save percentage and eight shutouts.

Minnesota leads the all-time series at 42-8-1, with a 17-4-1 advantage in Columbus. The Buckeyes are looking to snap an 13-game losing streak to Minnesota. The last OSU win in the series was Oct. 20, 2007.

Leading Ohio State offensively vs. the Gophers are Natalie Spooner with nine points (3g, 6a) in nine games, Laura McIntosh with eight points (2g, 6a) in 11 games and Hokey Langan who has six points (2g, 4a) in seven games.

The Buckeyes dropped both games of a WCHA series at then-No. 7 Minnesota, Dec. 10 and 12 at Ridder Arena. Ohio State and Minnesota were originally scheduled to play a Friday-Saturday series, but the second game was postponed because of a snow storm in the Twin Cities area.

Coming off a bye week, the Buckeyes had a tough time with the Golden Gophers with a 6-0 loss in game one. Lisa Steffes did what she could in the OSU net with 28 saves, but Minnesota scored two goals in each period to pull away throughout the game.

After waiting out the storm, Steffes made several outstanding saves in game two and stopped a total of 39 shots, but Ohio State fell, 2-1, in a tough overtime matchup. The game remained scoreless into the third, but it only took 11 seconds for the Buckeyes to capitalize on a 5-on-3 power play, when Hokey Langan deflected in a shot from the point by Shannon Reilly. Minnesota evened things up at 10:19 of the period when Kelly Seeler scored. Megan Bozak then got the win for the Gophers 3:14 into overtime.

Lisa Steffes earned her second WCHA Rookie of the Week honor of the season, the league announced Wednesday. It is the sixth weekly conference honor for the Buckeyes this season.

Steffes made 49 saves in Ohio State’s first WCHA road sweep of the season, taking both games by scores of 3-2 at Minnesota State Jan. 14-15. She stopped 28 shots Friday and then made 21 saves Saturday while allowing two goals in each game for a .925 save percentage.

After 24 points as a freshman and 19 as a sophomore, Shannon Reilly had a tough season last year with only 11. However, the Chanhassen, Minn., native has found the scoring touch once again this season. She leads the WCHA overall in defenseman scoring with 19 points and is eighth in the NCAA with 0.79 points per game.

Last weekend against Minnesota State, Reilly had a goal and two assists in the sweep. She ranks third on the Buckeyes with 13 assists and has tied her season-high for goals with six.

Rookie goaltender Lisa Steffes has made 30-plus saves in 12 games and has five games with over 40 saves. The Amherstburg, Ontario, native is second in the NCAA with 708 saves this season and is one of only two goalies in the nation with over 700 saves. She also leads in the NCAA in minutes played at 1454:50.

Sophomore Paige Semenza likes the second-half schedule. The forward from Pittston, Pa., earned the team’s Most Improved Player award last season after tallying 11 points in the last 19 games of the year (she had just two in the first 15 games).

Semenza is on the same track this season with three goals and five points overall in the first three series of 2011. She had five points the first 18 games of the season.

Laura McIntosh collected her 87th helper last weekend to surpass Tessa Bonhomme (2004-08) and stand alone in second in the Ohio State career assists column. Jana Harrigan (2003-06) holds the all-time record with 92. With an assist at Minnesota (Dec. 12), McIntosh set the Buckeye record for career assists in WCHA-only games (surpassing the previous mark set by Harrigan). She now has 69 assists in conference games.

Ohio State heads back to Minnesota to take on St. Cloud State, Jan. 28-29. Games begin at 2 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minn.