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Posts Tagged ‘Columbus.’

COMMENTARY: John Markell out as Ohio State Hockey Coach

When I heard Ohio State did not renew John Markell’s contract as men’s hockey coach, it came as no real surprise to me. I had heard all season from media who cover the team on a regular basis, that it was going to happen if the Buckeyes didn’t at least get to the CCHA  Championship Game.

I used to cover the hockey Buckeyes’ home games on a regular basis until the Columbus Blue Jackets came to town. Since then I would cover at least 5-6 games a season.

I will tell everybody for a fact, that yes, I am a member of the media and have been for over 30 years and I do root for the teams I cover. I am a fan who happens to be a member of the media. Personally, it upset me when one of my fellow members of the media told me in a Facebook Chat on Tuesday that reports all over Columbus were saying that Coach Markell had been fired.

I know Coach Markell to be a good, kind and professional gentleman. He was always nice to me when I would show up at practice or a game and he would say, “nice to see you” and Thanks for coming”. Also, he knew I was covering the Blue Jackets more than the Buckeyes and after a long drought in coverage, he would say “glad you could fit us in.” I appreciated him pointing me out.

Another interesting moment with Coach Markell came when he took over on an interim basis back in 1994-95, I showed for one of his first practices and some arrogant, unprofessional reporter asked me “why was I there at practice. She had never seen me before.” Coach Markell interrupted and told her that “everybody was allowed to come to practice and that the hockey sports information director and him would decide if somebody belonged or not”. After that I became a John Markell fan and I never judged him or the program after that. I wanted him to succeed and stay on forever. Call me a “homer” if you want but I truly liked the guy.

John Markell won 280 games (osu)

In 15 years as head coach, Markell was 280-269-56 at Ohio State. He led his team to 6 NCAA Tournament berths, including the program’s first Frozen Four appearance in 1998, and to a CCHA Tournament Championship in 2004.

When he took over as the interim coach, OSU was averaging 9 wins a season and were the laughingstocks of hockey because, their home ice rink, seated 1,900.

After he became the permanent coach, the program started to grow averaging almost 20 wins a season; Value City Arena was born which aided in recruiting and produced current NHL stars: Dave Steckel of the Washington Capitals, R.J. Umberger of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks and Rod Pelley of the New Jersey Devils.

But there have been several things that have hurt Coach Markell and the OSU Hockey program: Miami of Ohio, one of their rivals in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association has passed them up recruiting-wise and having sellouts at most of their games. The Buckeyes practice most of the time in the 50-year old OSU Ice Rink and Value City Arena, once a big help in pushing Ohio State Hockey forward on a national level, is now holding it back because it is too big, has no intimacy like most smaller arenas, Munn Ice Arena and Steve Cady Arena. Also, if OSU finishes 5 through 8 in the CCHA standings, they’ll host any first round home games at the OSU Ice Rink because Value City Arena has a contract with the Ohio High School Athletic Association Wrestling Championships. What’s more important, your hockey program or High School Wrestling?

So no matter if Markell was going stay, or whoever they bring in to replace him, these are the obstacles that are and will continue to hamper the hockey program. Opposing coaches will use these obstacles in the recruiting game.

To be honest with you, I’m surprised Markell stayed as long as he did, considering all that he had to deal with.

I haven’t heard many rumors about a possible replacement, but Paul Pooley’s name comes to mind because after all, his number is hanging in the rafters at Value City Arena and that would be quite fitting, a former Buckeye coaching the Buckeyes!

As for John Markell, I wish him well and thank him for all the kind gestures he extended to me and the other members of the media. Don’t be surprised if we see him on an opposing CCHA team’s bench in the near future!

Blue Jackets minus Rick Nash, beats Atlanta 2-1

Columbus, O.- The Blue Jackets played last night’s game without their captain and best player, Rick Nash who is out day-to-day with lower body injuries. Usually, it spells diasaster for Columbus when Nash is not in the lineup. But Columbus didn’t miss a beat without Nash and from the opening face-off to the final buzzer, they kept the pressure on Atlanta and their goaltender, Johan Hedberg.

R.J. Umberger (cbj)

Mathieu Garon (cbj)

It’s hard to believe that Atlanta, an Eastern Conference team and a member of the Southeast Division, is fighting for a playoff spot. They sit in 10th place behind the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins for that coveted 8th spot. This is a team that most fans wouldn’t recognize their roster. The only recognizable players would be 48-year-old Chris Chelios, (who was making his season debut last night), former Blue Jacket Ron Hainsey, Johan Hedberg and the Marty Reasoner, who was a scratch last night. Atlanta even has a better record than Columbus, 28-28-10. Having said that, Columbus has better players and better talent and it shows that it has underachieved all season as compared to Atlanta, who has overachieved with less talent. Go figure that.

Columbus used their high energy and entertaining hockey to score first in the opening period.  Capitalizing on a power play opportunity stemming from an interference call on the Thrashers’ Nik Antropov, the Jackets scored as R.J. Umberger scored his 2oth goal of the season on a deflection off of Chris Chelios and a 1-0 lead.

The crowd of  13,459 were thrilled with home team’s high-energy level and they weren’t going to be disappointed in the second period.  The second period had a slower pace but the Jackets kept the pressure on Atlanta Goalie Johan Hedberg as Kristian Huselius made it 2-0 at the 15:25 mark on a rebound shot in a crowd off another deflection. For Huselius, that was his 18th goal of the season to go with his 31st assist on the R.J. Umberger goal in the first period giving him 49 points on the season.

The 3rd period is usually the period where Blue Jackets fans hold their breath even if the team is up 2-0 because anything and everything bad usually happens to this team. Not to mention, in reading Atlanta’s media notes, the third period has been their best period all season. So there was reason for concern with 20:00 minutes of hockey left.

Columbus still had enough energy to battle the Thrashers, but only could muster one shot on goal in the 3rd period.  Atlanta outshot the Jackets 17-1 in the 3rd period. Atlanta finally scored on a strange goal. Johnny Oduya put the puck past Goaltender Mathieu Garon at the 17:39 mark on a deflection off of Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin and it was 2-1 and the fans could be heard from the press box, “oh not again”.

The Blue Jackets committed a  high sticking  penalty (Jan Hejda). So Atlanta, after pulling their Goaltender and having a power play, put a 6-on-4 advantage against the Blue Jackets, the final 1:25 of the game but couldn’t come up with the equalizing goal. The Jackets held on to win 2-1.

“When its not going for you, its not going to go for you. It’s a difficult loss”, Atlanta coach John Anderson said.

SOUNDS FROM THE LOCKER ROOM AND POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE (to listen to an audio file, click the number)

44 498 Chris Chelios Atlanta Defenseman 48 year old first game back in NHL

44 499 Chris Chelios Atlanta is in a playoff race in the Eastern Conference

44 501 Nik Antropov Atlanta Center Losing key game in a playoff run

44 502 Nik Antropov Does it get discouraging losing by giving up 2 flukie goals

44 506 Derek Dorsett Columbus RW The team came out fast and quick in the 1st period

44 507 Derek Dorsett On Goalie Mathieu Garon playing solid tonight

44 511 Kristian Huselius Columbus Team had a nice pace and flow tonight

44 512 Kristian Huselius Does he and teammates like fast pace instead of a slow pace

44 513 Claude Noel Columbus Coach Overall thoughts on the game

44 516 Claude Noel On the versatility of Derek Dorsett filling in for Rick Nash on 1st line

GAME NOTES

* Columbus is now 27-30-11 with 65 points.

* The Blue Jackets are 16-10-7 at home this season.

* The Jackets are 7-5-0 vs Atlanta all-time; 4-2-0 in Columbus; have won 5 of last 6 and 4 straight games.

* With the win over Atlanta, the Blue Jackets are 13=0-2 in its past 15 games against the Southeast Division which also includes Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida and Carolina. Their last loss to a Southeast Division team was November 21, 2007, a 5-2 loss at home to Florida.

* With Thursday night’s win, Columbus is:

18-12-5 when scoring the first goal of the game

11-7-5 when leading after the first period

21-6-4 when leading after the second period.

* LW R.J. Umberger scored his 20th goal of the season last night to give him 20 or more goals in three of his five NHL seasons. he has registered 20 goals, 25 assists for 45 points in 68 games this season leaving him five points shy of matching his career high of 50 points set in 2007-2008 with Philadelphia.

* Chris Chelios, who has starred for Montreal, Detroit and Chicago is glad to be back in the NHL

Ohio State Basketball team honored for Big Ten Championship

Evan Turner Big Ten Player of the Year (espn)

No surprise to anyone that covers Big Ten Conference as members of the media or fans that follow the league. Evan Turner was named the Player of the Year on Monday by both the league coaches and media while Thad Matta was selected as the conference coach of the year by league media.

Turner was the unanimous selection by the media for the top honor and was picked on all ballots by coaches and media as a 2010 First Team All-Big Ten honoree. He is the fifth Ohio State player to earn the award and the sixth all-time. Dennis Hopson was the 1987 recipient. Jim Jackson won it twice (1991, 1992) followed by Scoonie Penn (1999) and Terrence Dials (2006).

Matta was selected as the league’s top coach for the third time in his sixth season in Columbus. He is the fourth Ohio State coach to earn the honor, won eight times previously: Eldon Miller (1983), Randy Ayers (1991, 1992), Jim O’Brien (1999, 2001) and Matta (2006, 2007, 2010).

Thad Matta wins Coach of the Year (espn)

All five Ohio State starters were honored in the annual voting for the Big Ten’s best.

The League’s media selected David Lighty and William Buford, Third Team All-Big Ten while selecting Jon Diebler to the Honorable Mention squad.

Big Ten coaches put Buford on the Third Team. Lighty and Diebler were selected Honorable Mention. Dallas Lauderdale was elected to the Big Ten’s All-Defensive Team.

Ohio State shared the Big Ten regular-season title with Purdue and Michigan State, all with 14-4 conference records.  The Buckeyes started the conference season 0-2 and 1-3 but took Thad Matta’s coaching  direction to win 13 of their final 14 conference games, including a streak of six-consecutive road games.

Evan Turner led the conference in scoring (19.5 ppg), rebounding (9.4 rpg) and was second in assists (5.8 apg). No player in the history of the Big Ten has finished among the Top 2 in those three categories in a given year. Turner also was second in steals with (1.8 apg).

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