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Season Preview: Ohio State

My choice for 9th place in the CCHA is Ohio State.

Projected Depth Chart


LW Andrew Schembri C Mathieu Beaudoin RW Tom Goebel
LW Kenny Bernard C Domenic Maiani RW Sam Campbell
LW Bryce Anderson C Matt McIlvane RW John Dingle
LW Zach Pelletier C Dave Barton RW Jordan Mowbray
LD Matt Waddell RD Johann Kroll G Joe Palmer
LD Sean Collins RD Kevin Montgomery G Nick Filion
LD Jason DeSantis RD Tyson Strachan

Overall:

Last season was a tremendous disappointment for the Buckeyes. They were the favorite to win the league, and ended up with a disappointing 10th place finish. So what happened? One of the biggest problems was that the Buckeye goal scoring disappeared. Rod Pelley and Mathieu Beuadoin both scored over 20 goals in 2004-2005, and each only managed single digits the following season, scoring 7 and 8 respectively. Nobody else was able to step up and replace the 30 goal drop in production from those two. Thus, the Buckeyes ended up getting shut out 6 times last season, and only scoring once in 6 games. A big reason for that was their absolutely abysmal 9.2% powerplay percentage last season, which was last in the CCHA by far.

So will this Buckeye team be a repeat of last year or will they play like the 04-05 version, that won the CCHA playoff title? My guess is they’ll be much closer to the former than the latter.

Strengths:


I’m really impressed with the defense that the Buckeyes have. They’ve got a nice mix of solid defensive defenseman, and crafty offensive defenseman. They could be one of the best defensive units in the CCHA, behind Michigan.


Weaknesses:

The big question for the Buckeyes seems to be in goal. Joe Palmer is far from an inexperienced freshman. He’s actually started 20 games against Division I college teams thanks to his NTDP experience. That’s as many career starts as Miami goalie Jeff Zatkoff has. Still, Palmer is only 18 years old, and there is a big difference in mentality between playing for a team that is expected to lose, and a team that is expected to win. There’s no safety net for Palmer either, as his back-up is an even younger goalie in 17 year old Nick Filion, who was called in after Ian Keserich decided to leave school for more playing time.

The Buckeyes could also struggle scoring goals, after losing their best set-up man, Tom Fritsche, for at least part of the season. Transfer Tom Goebel will have to step up right away and show the scoring touch he did as a freshman at Michigan State.


Question Marks?

Will Tom Fritsche be able to get his medical condition under control and come back to help his team? Will Joe Palmer be able to step in and be a solid starting goalie from the first game? Will the Buckeyes be able to increase their scoring this season?

Key Player:
Mathieu Beaudoin. Which Beaudoin will show up this season? The guy who scored 23 goals two years ago or the guy who scored 8 last year? One of the big reasons for his drop in production was because he went from 14 powerplay goals on 04-05 to 1 powerplay goal last season. If the Buckeyes get their powerplay working again, he could be dangerous.

Breakout Player: Andrew Schembri. Schembri was one of the few Buckeyes who saw his scoring totals go up last season. He’s very small, but an extremely hard worker that should bring a lot of energy to the Buckeyes top line.

Bellwether: The 9.2% on the powerplay is so bad that it is worth repeating. The Buckeyes had the most powerplay attempts in the CCHA last season, and still scored the fewest powerplay goals by a comfortable 8 goal margin. Special teams is where team’s win games, and if the Buckeyes can improve that number, they could move up in the standings.

Did You Know?


The only thing keeping Columbus out of the South is location.

Even though head football coach Jim Tressel arranged for boosters to pay his players while he was coaching at Youngstown State, there’s absolutely no possible way he could be doing the same thing at Ohio State. None at all.

If You Go There:

You Have to Eat At: The first ever Wendy’s is located in downtown Columbus. Not the classiest joint on my list, but think of it as a hajj for Frosty lovers.

You Have to Stop At: Buckeye Grove. This long walkway features 125 Buckeye trees, commemorating each Buckeye football player to be named to the All-America team. Legend has it that the trees are fertilized by the corpse of John Cooper, and the Buckeyes’ national title hopes from 1995 and 1996, which are buried beneath the trees.