Around the Big Ten Hockey: Jan. 20
Big Ten action is heating up as the conferences’ biggest matchup is set to take place this weekend.
The No. 11 Minnesota Golden Gophers are hosting the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines in what could be a preview of the Big Ten conference championship.
As of now, Michigan sits atop the Big Ten with 29 points while Minnesota is in third with 25 points. The Gophers have two games in hand to the Wolverines.
Michigan recently won a series with Penn State that was much tighter than anticipated with game two requiring the Wolverines to come back from being two goals down.
Minnesota most recently split in a series against Alaska. The Golden Gophers will look to better defend their home ice against Michigan.
This battle encapsulates the thrilling battle hockey analysts have had all season when concerning the Big Ten: Who will win out, the young NHL caliber skill of Michigan, or the veteran talent of Minnesota?
The Golden Gophers recently lost their veteran goaltender Jack LaFontaine to the NHL, but still, boast a strong lineup with veterans like captain Sammy Walker and leading point getter Ben Meyers.
Michigan features top NHL draft picks like Owen Power, Matty Beniers, Luke Hughes among many others. They have displayed its ridiculous skill plenty of times this season but have had a few hiccups along the way.
Another marquee matchup in the Big Ten this weekend is between Penn State and Wisconsin. It will be Penn State’s first “wear white” game since 2019 and a series that will be crucial in determining the bottom half of the Big Ten standings.
Penn State has been swept in each of its last two series despite playing some of its best hockey against two of the nation’s top squads.
Wisconsin recently played well in a major sweep over Michigan State. In game two the Badgers staged a late comeback on a five-minute power play.
The final Big Ten series this weekend will be played between Michigan State and Ohio State.
Ohio State has been the surprise team of the Big Ten and college hockey as a whole, smashing expectations and playing its way to a top 15 spot in the country.
As mentioned earlier the Spartans were swept by Wisconsin in its last series while Ohio State had a solid split with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
After losing game one in overtime, the Buckeyes bounced back and dominated game two of the series-winning 4-1.
Ohio State fans will certainly start growing its expectations after this impressive showing and will be looking to sweep teams like Michigan State from this point forward.
With the contenders making their mark at this point in the season, the weight of the series continues to grow. It should be fun to see which teams step up in the big moments and which start to falter.
Maclain Young is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.