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College Hockey:
Buckeye Pick Up Steam, Blow By Warriors

Betz Saves 26 In Shutout, Titus Adds Four Assists

— For the Wayne State Warriors, it was deja vu all over again.

The Ohio State Buckeyes (4-2-1) bounced the Warriors (3-4-0), 9-0, in the second all-time meeting between the two teams; in two meetings OSU has outscored WSU 15-0. WSU played its first-ever game in the Schottenstein Center Oct. 2, 1999, a 6-0 OSU victory.

“Well, hopefully this is a learning experience about how hard you have to play,” said Bill Wilkinson, Wayne State head coach. “I thought we hung in there for a couple of periods, and really in the first period we had some chances on the power play and didn’t connect. That seems to be the story of our life.”

Although it was a one-goal game after the first, the second and third periods were all OSU. Defenseman Scott Titus had four assists in the contest. R.J. Umberger and J.B. Bittner had two goals each as a number of Buckeyes had multi-point efforts in the lopsided game.

Mike Betz stopped all 26 shots — including Reegan Rhem’s attempt that hit the right post and rolled toward Betz with five seconds remaining in the game — for his third career shutout, the second of this season.

“The fact that it hit the post and bounced back between my legs…was about the only part of that shot I saw,” said Betz. “At least it was coming out and not back in.”

Titus’ four points are more than one-third of his all-time Buckeye point production coming into the year. In his the two seasons previous to his redshirt 1999-2000 campaign, the Grand Rapids, Mich., native had notched two goals and nine assists for a two-season total of 11 points.

“I think I’m going to quit now,” said Titus. “I’d be surprised if I scored another point the whole season.”

Titus earned his first point on Umberger’s first goal, a shorthanded break that made it 1-0 at 16:17 in the first. Titus broke up the Warrior power play in the Buckeye end and the defender passed to Paul Caponigri in the neutral zone, who passed off to Umberger, streaking in on the left wing. Without missing a stride, Umberger shot from the left circle, beating WSU goaltender Dave Guerrera clean and long.

Bittner’s first goal of the night made it 2-0 at 4:30 in the second. Mike McCormick passed from behind the net to Bittner, who stuffed it into the net under St. Jean’s pads. An assist on the play was rookie John Toffey’s first collegiate point.

Umberger’s second goal of the night — again from Caponigri and Titus — at 11:49 in the second made it 3-0, and less than a minute later, Jason Crain gave Ohio State a 4-0 lead on McCormick’s gorgeous cross-crease feed from nearly behind then net.

Miguel Lafleche’s breakaway and Bittner’s tip-in of Pete Broccoli’s soft slapper from the left point made it 6-0 by the midway point in the third.

Scott May’s fourth goal of the season made it 7-0 at 10:47. At 18:16, Chris Olsgard made it 8-0, and with less than a minute to play, Toffey’s first collegiate tally added further insult to an otherwise all-too-obvious injury.

OSU head coach John Markell said one of the positives of the game was the number of Buckeye five-on-five goals, a concern through the first three weekends of the season. “I don’t think nine-nothing was indicative of their play out there. I thought they played very well…but maybe tonight was a game in which we took care of our opportunities.”

The Buckeyes were 0-for-3 on the power play, while WSU went 0-for-6. Guerrera had 33 saves through 52:02 minutes. Brett Leone, who replaced Guerrera after May’s goal, made three saves. OSU outshot Wayne State 45-26.

Markell called Guerrera “a very good goalie,” and said the WSU netminder was “left exposed a little bit” during the game, but added, “We were going hard for the net. When you get shots on net, you never know what can happen.”

After the game, Wilkinson told his players, “In order to compete, you’ve got to learn to do this for 60 minutes and not 45. We’ve got to come back tomorrow night with a little bit more intensity and do all the little things that we feel are necessary in order to be successful.”

The teams meet again Saturday night in Value City Arena (8:05 p.m.), and even though the Buckeyes won by nine goals in this contest, they are not taking the rematch lightly. Ohio State is looking to break a pattern that goes back to the 2000-01 season, that of letting down on Saturday after a Friday win — the very pattern that caught up with them last week in a two-game home series against Nebraska-Omaha.

“The biggest thing for us, given the way we’ve played lately, is that we put 60 minutes together,” said Betz. “It was something that we needed to do…to prove to ourselves.”

“He added that Friday’s win would be “pointless” if the Buckeyes “don’t come out to play” Saturday night.

Markell said, “I know Bill Wilkinson, and he’ll have those guys ready to compete tomorrow night.”

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