Around the Big Ten Hockey: Week 20
Host Logan Bourandas and analyst Jordan Hession dive into what is a crucial weekend in hockey for the Big Ten. They visit each matchup and give their predictions.
Another disappointing outing from the first-place Penn State Nittany Lions turned into yet another change in the Big Ten standings, as Minnesota has joined Penn State in a tie for first. The Golden Gophers had a big week not only by reclaiming a first-place spot but by reentering the top 20, as they sit at No. 18. This sets up a huge match in University Park this weekend to help break yet the tie at the top of the standings.
Although they escaped Madison with a split, the Nittany Lions definitely expected better against the worst team in the conference. Ever since conference play resumed at the start of the new year, the Nittany Lions have been treading water, as the rest of the conference has started to catch up. As for the Golden Gophers, they’ve been one of the hottest teams in the conference lately, nearly sweeping Notre Dame last week, as they lost Game 1 in overtime. The last time Penn State and Minnesota met, the Nittany Lions destroyed the Golden Gophers on their own ice, but that match happened in November. This series is taking place in State College, but both teams have taken much different paths since that November meeting.
Elsewhere, Michigan has found itself back into the race, as the Wolverines have climbed up from sixth to third in the conference via a sweep of Michigan State last weekend. Aside from Minnesota, Michigan has been one of the hottest teams in the country, winning eight of the last 10 conference games with sweeps over Michigan State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame. The Wolverines will face the Fighting Irish in a rematch this weekend.
The final series matchup taking place this weekend will feature the two teams tied for fourth in the Big Ten in Ohio State and Michigan State. The Buckeyes took last weekend off and haven’t played since the Nittany Lions came to town. Although they sit at fourth in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes still find themselves ranked one spot behind Penn State at No. 12.
The Penn State-Minnesota series will likely decide the Big Ten winner, as there is only one week left before conference tournament play. The series is especially huge for the Nittany Lions, as this will be their final week of the regular season. Minnesota, meanwhile, will take on Michigan next week, so all the Golden Gophers have to do is split both series, and they will clinch the Big Ten title via an amazing season comeback.
Logan Bourandas is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.