Around the Big Ten: Hockey - Week 1
Kyle Cannillo, Jordan Mansberger, Andrew Destin and Matt White break down the exciting Big Ten hockey season. The boys seem to believe Penn State is the favorite while host Kyle Cannillo has Wisconsin as his pick:
With hockey season rapidly approaching, the Big Ten looks loaded yet again. This conference previews to be one of, if not, the best conference in all of college hockey.
Last year the Wolverines were led by their leading point scorer Quinn Hughes. However, the sophomore decided to head to the NHL, leaving Michigan with a large hole to fill. Thankfully, Michigan had a strong recruiting class, including 14th overall pick Cam York and they will have (hopefully) a full season from Will Lockwood.
The Wolverines still look dangerous this year, but the biggest question mark is in net for them. Hayden Lavigne will be back in net for Michigan and will look to recapture his magic from his sophomore season. If he can get that mojo back, Michigan could be amongst the top of the Big Ten. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the conference is too loaded for any slip ups, and any inconsistency in net could be detrimental to them, even though their offense will be good.
Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State will also have to deal with a big departure in the form of Taro Hirose. Hirose notched 50 points for the Spartans last year. One positive is that Hirose was their only departure and the rest of their will be back in tact. The cohesion could play a big part in the offense still being efficient despite losing a player of Hirose’s caliber. Unfortunately, they just did not add enough to gain any ground in the Big Ten.
The Spartans also have goaltending questions, with John Lethemon and Drew DeRidder likely to split time in net. While they have potential to be a solid duo, they will need to post better than their .905 save percentage last season if the Spartans are going to compete. Too many questions and not enough additions is not a good combination for Michigan States.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Every year Minnesota comes in loaded with talent and this year is no different. While they lost offensive talent and their goalie, Mat Robson, they welcome a massive recruit and former Michigan goalie Jack Lafontaine.
The Gophers are extremely young this year, which will be the biggest question mark for them. If the young talent they have can come together quickly, they could be at the top of the conference, but if it doesn’t click fast enough for them, they might just fall too far behind. A deep run in the Big Ten tournament is a real possibility, but a high finish in the Big Ten regular season rankings should not be expected.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Fighting Irish come back loaded and ready to make another run at the Big Ten crown. As long as Cale Morris is in net, they should not be doubted. While they lost leading scorer Bobby Nardella, their defense did not take much of a hit. No matter who is on the ice for the Irish, if Morris is between the pipes, they have a real shot at winning any game. While their offense might be a question mark, Cale Morris is an exclamation point.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State lost A LOT. They saw Mason Jobst, Dakota Joshua, and Sean Romeo all graduate. However, they still have Tanner Lacynzski and Tommy Napier. The Buckeyes offense might not be as high powered as last year, but their defense will still be strong. Tommy Nappier will also be a solid replacement for Sean Romeo.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State has sky high expectations this year, and rightfully so. They are returning their top line of Limoges, Folkes, and Barratt, which could be the top line in the nation. They are bringing back goalie Peyton Jones for his senior year. If he keeps improving, he could be the second best goalie in the conference behind Cale Morris.
The defense, as always, will be the Nittany Lions weakest aspect. They are, however, returning key members like Paul Denaples and Cole Hults, which could prove to be key as they look for consistency at the blue line. While Penn State lost some glue guys, their best talent will be returning and cohesion will be a huge help. If Penn State’s defense can be slightly above average, their relentless offense can carry them deep this year.
Wisconsin had hands down the best recruiting class in the country as they landed two top-15 picks from the 2019 NHL draft in Cole Caufield and Alex Turcotte. Coupling that talent with the return of their goalie, Daniel Lebedeff, who looked really good towards the end of his freshman season. They will also return five of their six top scorers from last season. Cohesion and added talent will make Wisconsin a force in the Big Ten.
Zech Lambert is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.