Around the Big Ten Hockey: Week 19
Host Ben Geller and analysts Logan Bourandas and Josh Portney break down the upcoming weekend in Big Ten hockey.
The race for first place in the Big Ten became even closer last week, as there is now a three-way tie for second place. Not only are Michigan State, Ohio State and Minnesota equal in points, but they also are only two points behind Penn State for first place. Even moving past the top four, both Notre Dame and Michigan are still in the fight, as they are just five and six points behind first, respectively.
Following a brief downward spiral at the end of January, the Penn State Nittany Lions have finally recovered when they needed to most. Following a shootout loss in Game 1 at Ohio State, the Nittany Lions exploded on offense in Game 2 with two goals from Brandon Biro in a 6-3 win in Columbus. Penn State will continue its road trip next week as it heads to Madison to take on last place Wisconsin.
The most evenly matched series of last week took place in Minneapolis, as Minnesota hosted Michigan State coming off back-to-back sweeps and with all the momentum on its side. The series went about as expected, as Minnesota dominated Game 1 to extend its winning streak to five, but Michigan State answered the next day with a 4-2 win of its own. The series results in both teams falling into a second-place tie with Ohio State in the Big Ten standings. Minnesota will endure a rough four-game road stretch, facing both Notre Dame and Penn State. Michigan State meanwhile will play in a home-and-home in-state conference series against Michigan, with Game 1 taking place on Friday in East Lansing and Game 2 being held in Ann Arbor three days later.
The two worst teams in the Big Ten standings faced off in Ann Arbor last week. Although the Wolverines are 10 points ahead of the Wisconsin Badgers, the Big Ten is such a deep conference that Michigan ranks near the bottom. The Wolverines showed that gap in the standings on the ice, as they managed to put 13 pucks in net over the two games, scoring eight goals in the opening match. Wisconsin has looked outmatched since the start of conference play and currently sits on a five-game losing streak via sweeps from Minnesota and Michigan.
This weekend’s slate of games will be headlined by a battle for Michigan. A sweep from the Wolverines can jump them from sixth to second in the Big Ten standings if a couple things go their way. The hot Golden Gophers will take on a well-rested Fighting Irish squad that hasn’t played since traveling to State College at the beginning of the month. Finally, first place will take on last place in the Big Ten, as this time it will be Penn State that travels to Wisconsin. The two teams haven’t played since Wisconsin was ranked and were considered favorites on the road.
Logan Bourandas is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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Sophomore / Broadcast Journalism