Preview: Ohio Hockey Classic

Site: Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Friday-Saturday, Jan. 2-3, 2009
Participants: Clarkson, Miami, Army, Ohio State

Game 1: Army vs. Ohio State, 5:05 p.m. ET Friday

Army Black Knights (4-11-1, 4-7-1 Atlantic Hockey)
Head coach: Brian Riley
Leading scorers: So. Cody Omilusik (7-8–15), Jr. Owen Meyer (8-5–13)
Leading netminder: So. Jay Clark (2-4-1, 3.50 GAA, .893 SV%), Sr. Josh Kassel (2-7-0, 4.11 GAA, .862 SV%)

Ohio State Buckeyes (11-6-1, 6-5-1-1 CCHA)
Head coach: John Markell
Leading scorers: Sr. Corey Elkins (6-11–17), So. John Albert (5-12–17)
Leading netminder: So. Dustin Carlson (9-3-0, 2.28 GAA, .926 SV%)

Game 2: Clarkson vs. Miami, 8:05 p.m. ET Friday

Clarkson Golden Knights (2-10-4, 1-6-1 ECAC)
Head coach: George Roll
Leading scorers: So. Scott Freeman (2-12–14), So. Lauri Tuohimaa (8-4–12)
Leading netminder: Fr. Paul Karpowich (2-8-3, 3.10 GAA, .898 SV%)

Miami RedHawks (12-3-3, 10-2-2-1 CCHA)
Head coach: Enrico Blasi
Leading scorers: So. Carter Camper (11-15–26), So. Pat Cannone (7-13–20), Sr. Justin Mercier (7-9–16)
Leading netminders: Fr. Cody Reichard (5-2-2, 1.65 GAA, .936 SV%), Fr. Connor Knapp (7-1-1, 1.77 GAA, .924 SV%)

Tournament Outlook

Now in its fifth year, the Ohio Hockey Classic has become a staple for cofounders and CCHA rivals Miami and Ohio State. For the second consecutive year, the OHC will be played in OSU’s home rink, Value City Arena.

No. 2 Miami is the only ranked team in the field of four, which also features Army and Clarkson . In the past three seasons, the Buckeyes and RedHawks have squared off in the title game, resulting in an official record of 1-1-1 in those contests. Miami is the defending tournament champion, having beaten OSU 3-2 last season with the game-winner coming at 18:22 in the third. The Buckeyes won in 2006-07 by a score of 5-3, while the teams tied in 2005-06, 1-1, with Miami claiming the championship in a shootout.

In the first game, the Clarkson Golden Knights meet the RedHawks. Clarkson, in last place in the ECAC, finished the first half of the season with a pair of road losses to Bowling Green, losing 4-1 Dec. 19 and 3-1 the following night. The Golden Knights, coached by George Roll, haven’t won a game since a 3-1 home victory over Brown Nov. 7, and are now winless in their last 11 (0-9-2). This is an enormous contrast to last season, as Clarkson is the defending ECAC regular-season champion and the Golden Knights ended their season in the NCAA tournament, where they won their first NCAA tourney game since the mid-1990s when they beat St. Cloud State, 2-1, before losing to Michigan, 2-0. Sophomore Scott Freeman leads the Golden Knights in scoring while his classmate Lauri Tuohimaa is the team leader in goals. All three of Clarkson’s goaltenders have seen action this season, but freshman Paul Karpowich has played 14 games and has earned the team’s two wins.

The RedHawks are ranked second in the nation behind Notre Dame, and they trail the Fighting Irish by one point in the CCHA standings. Coached by Enrico Blasi, Miami brings an eight-game win streak into the OHC, having most recently swept Rensselaer in Oxford, Ohio, Dec. 13-14, beating the Engineers by a collective score of 10-2. Seven different RedHawks found the net in that series, and freshmen Connor Knapp and Cody Reichard each allowed one goal as each earned a win on the weekend. The two newcomers have been rotating time in the RedHawk net all season. Reichard has the seventh-best goals-against average and save percentage in the country; Knapp is ninth for GAA and 21st for save percentage. Sophomore Carter Camper leads the RedHawks in scoring and goals and is the nation’s third-leading scorer in points per game (1.44). Miami is sixth in both offense and defense nationally, scoring 3.50 goals per game while allowing 1.72. Converting at 20.9 percent, Miami’s power play is seventh in the nation, and the RedHawk penalty kill (93.8%) is the best in D-I. Camper and senior Justin Mercier each have five power-play goals, while all four of junior Jarod Palmer’s tallies have come with the man-advantage.

In the second contest, the Army Black Knights take on the Buckeyes. Army, coached by Brian Riley, is in eighth place in the Atlantic Hockey standings, finished the first half of the season with a 4-3 win over Canisius that capped a seven-game road trip and halted a five-game losing streak. The OHC will be the second midseason tournament for the Black Knights; last weekend, Army played in Dartmouth’s Ledyard Bank Classic, losing to the host Big Green in overtime, 5-4, in the opening round before bowing to Massachusetts, 4-1, in the second game. The Black Knights have 13 freshmen on their roster, with 11 seeing game time this season. Sophomore Cody Omilusik is Army’s points leader and junior Owen Meyer is the team’s goal leader. The Black Knights have split time in net primarily between sophomore Jay Clark and senior Josh Kassel.

The Buckeyes, coached by John Markell, finished the first half of the season on a very high note, going 9-1-0 in their last 10 games. In fifth place in the CCHA, the Bucks closed out 2008 with a pair of home wins over Bentley, beating the Falcons 10-1 Dec. 12 before needing overtime the following night for the 3-2 win and sweep. Nine players scored in the 10-1 game and 10 total in the series against Bentley, as balanced scoring has become a hallmark for this year’s Buckeyes. Senior Corey Elkins and sophomore John Albert are tied for OSU’s scoring lead, and freshman Zac Dalpe is the leading goalscorer with nine. Sophomore Dustin Carlson has settled into the starting role in net and has the 13th-best save percentage in the nation. The Buckeyes’ 3.44 goals per game give them the eighth-best scoring offense nationally; Ohio State is riding a six-game win streak into this tournament.


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