Around the Big Ten Hockey Recap

Story posted March 16, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Brandon Pelter

The Big Ten regular season has come to a close and the hunt for a Big Ten title, and possibly a national championship, is just around the corner. Every team has proven to be a threat throughout the regular season 

#1 Minnesota Golden Gophers (19-6, 14-6 Big Ten)

The Golden Gophers have completed another successful regular season but in order to make a run at a national championship they must win the Big Ten tournament. Freshman goaltender Eric Schierhorn helped to keep the Golden Gophers in every game posting a .906 save percentage and a 2.67 goals against average. Schierhorn was named to the All-Big Ten First team and was unanimously selected to the All-Freshman Big Ten team as well. Minnesota has been tested with tough opponents all season long and have proven to be a true threat with junior Hudson Fasching leading the way with 20 goals and 18 assists. 

#2 Michigan Wolverines (22-7-5, 12-5-3 Big Ten)

Although the Wolverines are the second seed many would say they are truly the team to beat in the tournament. Michigan is the only Big Ten team that will still make the national tournament regardless of their Big Ten tournament finish, and their top line of Kyle Connor, JT Compher and Tyler Motte are arguably the best in the nation. Michigan saw a lot of success throughout a tough conference and nonconference schedule splitting four games with Minnesota, and splitting two with Boston University. Michigan’s speed has proven lethal and nearly impossible to stop.

#3 Penn State Nittany Lions (20-12-4, 10-9-1 Big Ten)

The Nittany Lions had a record-breaking season, recording 20 wins for the first time in the program’s young history, but after going 12-2-3 into early December, the team seemed to slow down their game. The Nittany Lions swept Michigan State, and split the regular season series with Minnesota but were swept by Michigan. In their final five games, with a national tournament bid still within reach, the Nittany Lions went a dismal 1-4, so if they want any hopes at the Frozen Four they will need to win it all at the Big Ten Tournament.

#4 Ohio State Buckeyes (13-17-4, 8-8-4 Big Ten)

Although the Buckeyes look sub-par based on their record, taking a look at their recent on-ice play is eye opening. It has been a tale of two season for Ohio State after starting just 1-7. The Buckeyes, who have one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the Big Ten, have posted some impressive wins against Boston College and Cornell. Junior Nick Schilkey has led the scoring with 19 goals and 22 assists, and junior goaltender Christian Frey, although posting just an 8-10-3 record, has kept his team in almost every game with a .910 save percentage.

#5 Michigan State Spartans (10-22-4, 6-12-2 Big Ten)

Michigan State has been a team of runs this season and right now are on a roll. Although their record isn’t great they have won big games against Minnesota and Ohio State. Spartans goaltender Jake Hildebrand has bounced back from a tough start too posting a .904 save percentage and earning a Big Ten Honorable Mention just a year after being named the conference’s top goaltender. Although the offense is led by St. Louis Blues draft pick Mackenzie MacEachern, the team’s biggest problem has been on the defensive end. A lack of defensive presence has left Hildebrand out to dry at times and they’ll need to play strong in front of their net-minder for any hope at the conference tournament. 

#6 Wisconsin Badgers (8-18-8, 3-13-4 Big Ten)

Even the so called weakest team in the Big Ten the Badgers still have beaten the top dog Minnesota as well as Ohio State and non-conference powerhouse North Dakota. The Badgers split their most recent series with their first round opponent Penn State and will certainly give the Nittany Lions a hard fought battle. Freshman goalie Matt Jurusik will have to step up after posting a 3.43 goals against average and an .893 save percentage.

  

Brandon Pelter is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism and finance. To contact him, email brandon.pelter@gmail.com.