Big Ten Hockey Weekend Preview
ComRadio's own Alissa Devine, Bria Donnelly and Eric Ohlson analyze the Big Ten Conference and discuss this weekend's key series.
Now that January has come to a close and there are just under two months of college men’s hockey left before the NCAA Championship kicks off the Big Ten’s top teams will be fighting harder than ever to maintain and improve their form in hopes of a higher seed.
For Michigan, Minnesota and Penn State, the stakes are the highest with the Big Ten Tourney looming. The three of them are all fighting for the top spot in the Big Ten with the Wolverines and the Golden Gophers tied for first with 24 points and the Nittany Lions in third with 18 points. In the Big Ten Tournament the top two seeds get an important bye week which is big incentive for all three teams, especially Penn State.
Michigan and Penn State, however, also have to think about its NCAA rankings. Michigan is currently ranked fifth overall and probably won’t have to worry about falling out of the top 16 teams that will play in the Championships come late March, though they certainly need to work hard if they want to stay near the top of the rankings. Penn State on the other hand is currently in 16th place. They can’t afford losing many more games or they could find themselves with nothing to do after the Big Ten Tourney. Minnesota did not make the NCAA top 20, in large part due to their poor non-conference play.
Here is a complete breakdown of the Big Ten:
T-1st: No.5 Michigan Wolverines (24 Pts, 7-1-2, 16-3-4)
This last week Michigan played Penn State twice, once in State College, Pennsylvania and once in Madison Square Garden and left both games as the victors. In the first game the Wolverines pulled away early in the second period and never looked back, winning 7-4. The Wolverines swept the series by putting four goals in the back of Penn State’s goal in the final period to come from behind and win 6-3. Tyler Mott was the top player for Michigan as he scored four goals in the two games. The two wins pushed them up the NCAA rankings from sixth to fifth and put them in a tie for first in the Big Ten.
T-1st: Minnesota Golden Gophers (24 Pts, 8-2-0, 13-12-0)
Over the last seven days the Golden Gophers have dropped both games they played. They lost to Bemidji St with a score of 4-2 on the 30th. The next day they played Minnesota State and went down 3-2. These two losses don’t matter in the Big Ten standings due to them being non-conference games but Minnesota needs to pick up their game if they want to compete for first with a Michigan team that is playing very well.
3rd: Penn State Nittany Lions (18 Pts, 6-4-0, 16-7-3)
Penn State’s two conference losses this week against Michigan were exactly what they didn’t need if they plan on playing very much after mid-March. If Penn State can’t win consistently in the near future they could lose their spot in the NCAA Championship. They have been streaky at times of late, and with conference games coming up this week they need to make a serious push.
4th: Ohio State Buckeyes (12 Pts, 3-5-2, 8-14-2)
The Buckeyes are coming off a two games series which they split with Michigan State. Their season doesn’t seem to be looking too impressive either way unless they can pull off an upset in the Big Ten Tourney.
T-5th: Wisconsin Badgers (6 Pts, 1-7-2, 6-12-6)
The Badgers won their last two games against Alaska 4-3 and 5-2 respectively. The first game snapped a seven-game winless streak dating back to their game against Michigan State on Dec. 12th (they also won an exhibition match on New Year’s day). Needless to say the Badger’s shouldn’t expect to go too far into the Big Ten Tourney.
T-5th: Michigan State Spartans (6 Pts, 2-8-0, 6-18-2)
Michigan State is now tied for last place in the Big Ten with Wisconsin thanks to the game they took in the series against Ohio State. Sadly for the Spartans, the only positive notes at the moment are that they are no longer the sole owner of last place, and that they still get to participate in the Big Ten Tourney, even if it doesn’t look promising.
Tommy Butler is a freshman majoring in communications. You contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
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Alissa Devine is a senior from Fairfield, New Jersey, majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor is business liberal arts. She is involved with play by play and beat writing for several Penn State sports, especially hockey. She is also a member of the talk show, The Sin Bin for Com Radio. Alissa’s love for sports and hockey has driven her to pursue a career in sports broadcasting.