Ohio State Buckeyes (6-5-1, 2-5-1-1 WCHA) vs.
#3 Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs (8-2-0, 6-2-0 WCHA)
Friday, Nov. 19 – 7:30 p.m. (CT)  •  Saturday, Nov. 20 – 7 p.m. (CT)
DECC  •  Duluth, Minn.

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s hockey team is looking to rebound after a rough home series, but has another challenge ahead with a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series at No. 3 Minnesota Duluth, Nov. 19-20. Games begin at 7:30 p.m. (CT) Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday at the DECC in Duluth, Minn.

The Buckeyes (6-5-1, 2-5-1-1 WCHA) are trying to bounce back from a sweep by the Mavericks while the defending NCAA champion Bulldogs (8-2-0, 6-2-0 WCHA) were off last weekend.

Ohio State dropped out of both national ranking after four weeks in the Nos. 9 and 10 spots. After going 6-2-0 in the opening month of the season, the Buckeyes have had a tough time in November at 0-3-1.

Like last season the OSU offense is among the best in the NCAA, in seventh with an average of 3.75 goals per game. Ohio State’s power play is fourth in the nation at 24.1 percent (13-of-54) and the penalty kill is perfect in its last 16 chances over four-plus games.

Leading the Buckeyes in points and assists is Laura McIntosh, with 25 and 19, respectively. Natalie Spooner has scored a team-high 12 goals, including five on the power play, and has 17 points. Hokey Langan is second with 20 points (8g, 12a). Patrolling the OSU net is freshman Lisa Steffes, who is 6-5-1 with a 2.56 GAA and .917 save percentage.

The ninth-ranked Buckeyes dropped both games in a home series against Minnesota State, Nov. 12-13. Sophomore forward Hokey Langan scored twice for the Buckeyes, but Minnesota State rallied with three goals in the third period to pull away for the 5-3 victory in the Friday game.

Ohio State then lost 4-3 Saturday. Down 3-0 after the first, the Buckeyes chipped away at the score over the next two periods to tie the score before MSU scored the gamewinner with less than four minutes left. Langan again scored twice in the second game for four goals against the Mavericks. Laura McIntosh set up all four of Langan’s goals in the series.

Maverick Series Notes:

  • Shannon Reilly (1g, 2a), Ally Tarr (1g, 1a) and Kelly Wild (2a) also had multiple points in the second game.
  • The games were only the eighth and ninth losses to Minnesota State in 50 meetings all-time. 
  • The Ohio State power play was 3-of-10 while the penalty kill was a perfect 4-of-4.

Ohio State was without top goal-scorer Natalie Spooner for the last two series, while Minttu Tuominen and Annie Svedin missed the second game against the Fighting Sioux and the Minnesota State series. All three were preparing with their respective national teams and then competed in the Four Nations Cup. They return for the UMD series this weekend.

Four players with Ohio State ties played for their countries at the 2010 Four Nations Cup, Nov. 9-13 in St. John’s and Clarenville, N.L. Junior forward Natalie Spooner and former Buckeye defenseman Tessa Bonhomme won gold with host country Canada. Spooner played in her second Four Nations Cup (along with 2008), while Bonhomme, who wore an ‘A’ in the tournament, has been a member of several National Women’s Teams and won Olympic gold last February.

Sophomore forward Minttu Tuominen (Finland) and freshman defenseman Annie Svedin (Sweden) also competed in the tournament. It was Tuominen’s third Four Nations appearance after last competing for Finland at the Olympics where she won bronze. Svedin earned her second spot on the Swedish National Team and her first trip to Four Nations. Finland topped Sweden, 2-1, in the bronze medal game.

Minnesota Duluth won its fifth NCAA championship last season and entered the 2010-11 season as the top-ranked team in the nation. Although they have slipped to No. 3 in the rankings, the Bulldogs have an 8-2-0 overall record and 6-2-0 mark in the WCHA with losses to Bemidji State and North Dakota.

Leading UMD in scoring is junior Haley Irwin with 11 goals and 16 points. Just behind her is senior Elin Holmlov with a team-high 11 assists and 15 points, followed by sophomore Jessica Wong with 14 points (6g, 8a). Senior Kim Martin (5-2-0, 1.17 GAA, .951 sv%) and sophomore Jennifer Harss (3-0-0, 1.27 GAA, .937 sv%) have split time in net.

Minnesota Duluth leads the all-time series 41-4-4, but three of Ohio State’s four victories have come at Duluth including a 6-3 win last February which turned out to be the Bulldogs’ last loss before their NCAA championship run.

In just four games against UMD, sophomore forward Hokey Langan totaled 10 points on three goals and seven assists. Juniors Laura McIntosh has 13 points (3g, 10a) and Natalie Spooner has eight points (6g, 2a) in eight meetings with the Bulldogs.

Defenseman Shannon Reilly has found the scoring touch again her senior season. After 11 points in 35 games last year, she has already matched that total this season. The Chanhassen, Minn., native leads the WCHA overall in defenseman scoring, and with five goals she is just one away from tying her career high set her freshman season.

Laura McIntosh became the fastest Buckeye to reach 100 points, surpassing the century mark Oct. 29 with five assists in a sweep of Syracuse. The junior from Waterloo, Ontario, reached the milestone with her second of three assists in a 5-1 win in the first game of the series.

McIntosh is just the sixth Buckeye to reach 100 points and did so in 80 games, 19 games faster than the previous mark held by All-American Jana Harrigan.

Laura McIntosh led the WCHA is overall assists last season with 35 and is well on her way to eclipsing that mark this season. Through 12 games, the Waterloo, Ontario, native already has set up 19 goals to lead the conference (seven ahead of teammate Hokey Langan, who is second in the category). 

McIntosh has 82 helpers in her two-plus seasons and is only four assists away from tying for second with Tessa Bonhomme in the Ohio State career assists. Jana Harrigan (2003-06) holds the all-time record with 92. McIntosh is close to breaking Harrigan’s mark for assists in WCHA games – she has 64 and is four away from the record.

By scoring twice in each game vs. Syracuse, Natalie Spooner extended her point streak to 12 games – the longest of her career and fourth-longest in Buckeye history. The Scarborough, Ontario, product also has scored at least one a goal in all eight games this year. Added to her goal from the final game of the 2009-10 season, she has set the Ohio State record for consecutive games with a goal at nine.

Spooner also has had a point in 20-consecutive series, dating back to the second series of last year. Her four goals upped her career total to 55 and the assistant captain is just the fourth Buckeye to reach the 50-goal mark.

Thankfully, the Buckeyes will be at home next weekend for a WCHA series against Bemidji State, Nov. 26-27. Games begin at 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday at the OSU Ice Rink and admission, as always, is free.