Big Ten Hockey Weekend Preview

Story posted January 28, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Tom Shively

The Minnesota Golden Gophers find themselves atop the conference standings with 24 points, fresh of of five straight wins.  Michigan and Penn State are currently tied for second with a critical two games coming up, the latter of which will be played at Madison Square Garden as part of a Hoops & Hockey doubleheader between the schools.  Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State round out the standings in that order, with only four conference wins combined between them.

No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 15 Penn State

Thursday: 7 p.m. (at Penn State), Saturday: 7 p.m. (at MSG)

In what is arguably the biggest series in the history of Penn State hockey, the Nittany Lions look to wrestle sole possession of second place from the Wolverines.  The young front line of Andrew Sturtz and Chase Berger continues to provide the bulk of the Penn State offense, with 22 goals between them on the season.  Michigan comes off a tough split two weekends ago at Ohio State, but it came at a cost, losing Cutler Martin to suspension for Saturday’s game after a scuffle late in the most recent game against the Buckeyes.  Penn State continues to use a platoon system in the net, as both Matt Skoff and Eamon McAdam are likely to get starts in this series.

Michigan State vs. Ohio State

Friday: 6:30 p.m., Saturday: 7 p.m.

Two disappointing teams take the ice this weekend in what has turned out to be a battle to stay out of the Big Ten cellar.  Nonetheless, the Buckeyes have to feel pretty good about themselves of late as they have played some excellent hockey recently, including wins over Boston College, Cornell, Penn State, and a shootout over Michigan, all teams currently ranked in the USCHO top 20.  The Spartans, on the other hand, come in losers of eight of their last nine, winning only against the US National Team Development Program in OT in an exhibition last weekend.  Ohio State juniors Nick Schilkey and Anthony Greco will present challenges for the Spartans on defense as neither Michigan State goaltender has a save percentage above .900.

Bemidji State vs. No. 20 Minnesota

Saturday: 4 CT

The Gophers’ recent hot streak helped to land them back in the top 20 as they prepare to face Bemidji State on Saturday in the semifinal of the North Star College Cup.  Their success is due in large part to junior forward Hudson Fasching, who has scored 10 goals so far in the Big Ten season.  If Minnesota wins on Saturday, they will face the winner of the other semifinal between St. Cloud State and Minnesota State on Sunday.

Alaska vs. Wisconsin

Friday: 7 CT, Saturday: 7 CT

The Nanooks and Badgers have both had their share of struggles, but they each look to right the ship as they take a break from conference play.  Freshman goaltender Matt Jurusik of the Badgers will have a tough task ahead of him as he tries to stop Alaska forward Tyler Morley, whose 12 goal total on the year is the most on either team.

Tom Shively is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism.  You can contact him at shivelyt97@gmail.com.