Around the Big Ten Hockey: Week 15
Jacob Cheris, Jordan Hession and Christopher Hess break down this week's slate of Big Ten Hockey games.
We’ve finally approached the in-conference play part of the season, and from here on out, it’s all Big Ten rivalry matchups. And with the top three teams separated by two points, the race for the top spot in the Big Ten is still up for grabs.
Currently dominating the conference with a 16-6 overall record is sixth-ranked Penn State, which has been simply unstoppable in the month of January. The Nittany Lions traveled to the PPG Paints Arena to face the Colonials from Robert Morris, and six different Penn State Nittany Lions scored in a very one-sided 6-2 victory. They move on to play a home series this weekend against a declining Michigan squad that is 9-11-2 overall.
Right behind Penn State is No. 20 Michigan State: a surprising new face to the big dogs club of Big Ten hockey. The Spartans are 11-10-1 overall but are 7-4-1 in conference matchups. Their shocking upset of the Nittany Lions back in November set them off on a campaign to the top of the conference. Stellar goaltending by John Lethemon and easy wins over Michigan and Minnesota have set them apart on paper as a team to look out for. But can this team continue to win through a tough final stretch of the season? We’ll see some real action next weekend, as the Spartans host Penn State.
Ohio State is currently tied with the Spartans in the standings but clearly has the better team. Ranked ninth in the country with an overall record of 14-6-2, the Buckeyes have a very strong roster, led by the trio of Tanner Laczynski, Gustaf Westlund and Carson Meyer that has a combined 24 goals and 33 assists. Tommy Nappier has been lights out behind the net for Ohio State, which has contributed to the team’s continued success. However, some in-conference losses to Notre Dame and Wisconsin have set the Buckeyes back a bit in the standings. They’ll look to regain control when they host Notre Dame for a rematch series this weekend.
Sitting in fourth place is the Fighting Irish from Notre Dame, ranked 18th in the country with an overall record of 10-9-3. Notre Dame is a frequent name in the Frozen Four conversation, but this year, the Fighting Irish haven’t been so incredible. Notre Dame started the year off strong but then went on a six-game losing streak, almost exclusively against ranked teams. Recently, the Fighting Irish were swept at home by Michigan, a team that lives at the bottom of the Big Ten. Maybe they were hyped up too much after sweeping weaker teams in the beginning of the year like Air Force and Lake Superior State. Either way, the Fighting Irish need to turn it around and start winning if they want a way back into the postseason. They have an opportunity to get back into the swing of things when they face Ohio State in Columbus this weekend.
To round out the Big Ten, Minnesota has an off week of sorts, as the Golden Gophers play the USA U18 Team in an exhibition match this weekend. A weakened Michigan team faces a tough trial this weekend: a road series with Penn State. Finally, Wisconsin hosts Michigan State and looks to knock the Spartans off of their pedestal.
Josh Portney is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Hailing from Long Island, Christopher has experience in public address announcing alongside broadcasting football, volleyball, hockey, baseball, and softball. Chris has been featured on State College Saturdays, CommRadio’s Saturday college football pregame show, Daylate Tailgate, CommRadio’s Sunday college football recap show, and on a number of podcasts. Chris also writes a number of articles during football and hockey season and is an insider for the men’s hockey team. Chris is also a co-host on Hockey Night in State College. Chris is interested in either play-by-play or working in the sports media department for a college or professional sports team alongside being a sports radio personality. To contact Chris, email @firstname.lastname@example.org.
Junior / Broadcast Journalism
Sophomore / Broadcast Journalism
Jacob Cheris is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism from Gaithersburg, Maryland. He is an aspiring sports play-by-play broadcaster or sports analyst. Jacob is a huge Washington Capitals fan and has a great passion for hockey. He played all throughout high school and still plays in the Student Hockey League. He is also a member of Penn State Sports Night, where he analyzes hockey and other sports on YouTube. His favorite play-by play-broadcasters are Mike “Doc” Emrick of NBC Sports and Joe Beninati of NBC Sports Washington. Jacob is looking to expand his love for hockey and use it across all sports.