Men’s Hockey: Around the Big Ten Week Two

Audio/Story posted October 20, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Sports Staff

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ComRadio's Will Desautelle, John Petrolias and Eric Ohlson tell you all you need to know about this weekend's hockey matchups around the Big Ten conference. 

Five Big Ten schools will be in action this weekend, including a pair of teams hosting non-conference series at home. No. 11 Michigan and Michigan State will both play a pair of games at home, with the Wolverines hosting Michigan Tech and the Spartans taking on No. 6 Denver. No. 7 Minnesota will face No. 14 St. Cloud State in a pair of non-conference clashes. The Golden Gophers will host the Huskies on Friday before visiting them the following day. No. 19 Ohio State will also split hosting duties this weekend with Bowling Green, and Penn State will top off the weekend with an intriguing road series against No. 3 Notre Dame.

Michigan State last week was swept in their series at Lake Superior State by scores of 6-1 and 7-3. The Spartans showed little resistance to the Lake Superior State attack. Whether it was John Lethemon or Ed Minney in the net, the Lakers scored at will and exposed a glaring weakness for the Spartans. It also didn’t help that the Spartans have already committed over 20 penalties on the season. Right now it appears that Michigan State will plummet towards the bottom of the Big Ten and struggle to compete in a difficult league.

Ohio State endured a tough road test against Miami (Ohio) last weekend but could only escape with a 1-1 tie. Goaltender Matt Tomkins has played well so far this season, recording 22 saves against Miami and allowing just 2 goals against Denver a couple weeks ago. While the Buckeyes have been rock solid defensively, they’re still looking to get in rhythm offensively. Through three games they have netted just seven goals, which is a rate that must improve if they are going to stay competitive in the Big Ten.

Michigan last week knocked off an underrated Ferris State squad 2-1. The Wolverines have also been superb defensively to begin the season, allowing just four goals in their first four games. Another strength for Michigan has been their 27.3% power play conversion rate, which ranks 5th nationally. Sam Piazza is tied for first in the Big Ten in scoring with three so far, while Jake Slaker was involved in both goals against Ferris State.

The Badgers will be off this week after picking up a big 3-1 win over No. 6 Boston College last weekend. Their ability to convert on power plays has stood out as well, posting a 26.7 % conversion rate, which ranks 8th nationally. Corbin McGurie has three goals this season, while freshman Trent Fredric recorded 4 points against BC and leads the team with six so far. The Badgers had a miserable season last year but have a lot of young talent and already appear to be much improved under new coach Tony Granato.

Minnesota was off last week but crushed the USA 18 & under team in an exhibition match. The Golden Gophers in their first two games of the season have outscored their opponents 12-3. Eric Schierhorn was last season’s Big Ten goaltender of the year, and he was named to the watch list for Mike Richter Award to begin this season. As dominant as Minnesota has been in conference play the past few seasons, they must improve their non-conference record this year and will have a great opportunity this week against St. Cloud State to do so.

Penn State picked up a convincing win over Mercyhurst last weekend. They have defended against the power play exceptionally well going 9-9 against Mercyhurst, and 15-15 on season in penalty kills. They have also added two shorthanded goals and are just 1 of 3 teams who have not allowed a power play goal in college hockey. 11 players were involved in at least one goal, and six had multiple point games against Mercyhurst. Penn State has proven their offensive potency, but the key this year will be to improve defensively, and this was a step in the right direction.

 

Will Desautelle is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email willdesautelle@gmail.com.