Men’s Hockey: Around the Big Ten
Ryan Berti, Eric Ohlson, and Alissa Devine talk about the state of Big Ten hockey as the regular season comes to a close.
This season has been no exception for the Big Ten hockey programs in terms of success.
With three ranked teams in the Top-20 and the Big Ten tournament just two weeks away, conference matchups are key in making a final push come tournament time.
The Big Ten boasts some of the most talented offensive units in the nation as the end of the season draws near.
No. 6 Michigan (10-3-3, 20-5-5 Big Ten) and No. 14 Penn State (19-9-4, 9-6-1-1 Big Ten), rankings according to USCHO.com, rank among the nations leaders in scoring. Michigan scores an average of 4.79 goals per game, 5.50 goals per game in conference play, and lead the nation in scoring.
Penn State averages 3.94 goals a game and rank fifth in the nation. They lead the country with 42.56 shots a game. To compare, the next best team is Michigan with 38.43 shots per game.
As the final standings shake out, reigning Big Ten champion No. 17 (17-14-0, 12-4-0-0 Big Ten) Minnesota sits atop the conference with 36 points, closely followed by Michigan with 35 after splitting their series this past weekend. Penn State stands alone in third place with 29 points.
The top two teams will receive byes to begin the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
To round out the standings, Ohio State (9-13-2, 4-8-2-1 Big Ten) is fourth with 19 points, Michigan State (9-20-3, 5-10-1 Big Ten) is fifth with 16 points and Wisconsin (6-16-8, 1-11-4-2 Big Ten) sits in dead last with a lowly nine points.
Taking a look at this week’s matchups, there are several must win series.
Michigan will take on Ohio State in a series that will split home ice. Michigan hopes to sweep the series for good chance to clinch a bye in the tournament.
The Wolverines have the top three players nationally in points per game in J.T. Compher with 1.82, Kyle Conner with 1.61 and Tyler Motte with 1.57.
The Buckeyes hope to play spoiler after coming off a series split with Penn State. They finished off the road trip to University Park, Pa. with a 7-4 win against the Nittany Lions.
Look for Tommy Perran and Freddy Gerard, who are both coming off pretty good weekends against Penn State, to make an impact against Michigan.
The next matchup to keep an eye out for is between Penn State and Wisconsin. With young talent like Andrew Sturtz and Chase Burger along with the veteran outbreaks of Kenny Brooks and Curtis Loik, Penn State looks to continue to beat up on the Badgers who have yet to beat the Nittany Lions in two games this season.
The Badgers took the Nittany Lions into overtime in one of their two matchups earlier this season with the help of Luke Kunin and Jake Linhart. With home ice this weekend and Penn State fighting for a bye in the tournament; it should make this series interesting to watch to say the least.
For what it’s worth, Penn State and Michigan will go head-to-head to close out the regular season in a few weekends so these two matchups are huge going into Big Ten tournament play.
The final Big Ten matchup of the week will take place in East Lansing where the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Michigan State Spartans will duke it out for a second series this season.
Michigan State swept the first series at Mariucci Arena, but home ice may not be too much of an advantage this time around for the Spartans as the Golden Gophers hold a record of 8-4-0 on the road this season.
High-octane forward Hudson Fasching capped off the Golden Gophers most recent win in overtime against Michigan this past weekend.
The Spartans impressive goaltender Jake Hildebrand will look to shut down a strong Minnesota offense. He has a .902 save percentage this season.
Mike D’Avella is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senior / Broadcast Journalism