Around the Big Ten Hockey: Week 9
Big changes took place last week during another big conference week, and a new team claimed the title of the highest Big Ten team in the rankings. For the entire season so far, Notre Dame had appeared to be the most dominant team in the conference and managed to reach as high as fifth in the rankings. However, after a major cold stretch, the Fighting Irish were finally overtaken.
Penn State managed to its their non-conference games this weekend by destroying Merrimack 7-0 on Saturday and losing to UMass Lowell 3-2 in overtime on Sunday. In the Merrimack contest, Liam Folkes recorded a hat trick not even halfway into the contest. Folkes’ three goals were also the first three of the game for the Nittany Lions. In the UMass Lowell game, Nate Sucese managed to tie it up in the third period before Chase Blackmun sealed the game for the River Hawks in overtime. Penn State moved up to sixth in the rankings and remains at first place in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions will take on Michigan this weekend.
One spot behind the Nittany Lions are the Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State, which came off a split against Penn State two weeks ago, managed to sweep the Michigan State Spartans last weekend by scores of 3-1 and 2-0. The Buckeyes dominated the entire series and were not trailing at any point during the two-game stretch. Ohio State has continued its fast rise up the rankings, moving up four spots this week from No. 11 to No. 7. The Buckeyes will take on Minnesota this weekend.
Notre Dame fell hard this past weekend, as the Fighting Irish are now barely inside the top 10. Since their first loss of the season against Wisconsin, the Irish have lost three of their last five contests with two of them being against out-of-conference opponents. Notre Dame got swept by Bowling Green by scores of 5-2 in both contests. Notre Dame will have another big non-conference series against Boston College before resuming Big Ten play against Penn State.
Still hanging around in the top 20 are the Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers split their series against Michigan last weekend, winning Game 1, 3-2, and losing Game 2, 3-1. The Badgers overcame a 2-0 deficit by scoring three straight goals in Game 1 with two in the second period to grab the win. Wisconsin is still ranked No. 19 in the country but is second-to-last in the Big Ten rankings, ahead of only Michigan. Wisconsin will continue Big Ten play on the road against Michigan State.
Elsewhere around the Big Ten, Michigan State is starting to receive more top 20 votes, even after being swept by Ohio State last weekend. Michigan State lost by two goals in both games but is still in fourth place in the Big Ten. Minnesota now has just one top 20 vote, as the Golden Gophers were swept by North Dakota in non-conference play. Minnesota allowed 12 goals during the two-game set and will look to right the ship against Ohio State this weekend. Finally, Michigan has established itself as the bottom-dweller of the Big Ten but was able to force a split against Wisconsin last weekend. Michigan lost by one goal on Saturday but was able to get the 3-1 victory the next day.
We have now reached December, and there is still a very tight race for the top spot in the Big Ten. Only three points separate first and third, meaning we still have plenty of exciting hockey to go in the upcoming weeks.
Logan Bourandas is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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