Around the Big Ten Hockey: Week 4
Travis Sutton, Ben Ferree and Ben Jenkins break down this week's action on the ice across the conference.
The Big Ten hockey season this season is vastly different because the seven team conference makes it impossible for all the teams to play at the same time. With that being said, this weekend’s conference slate has lots of intriguing matchups that could impact the conference standings.
The most intriguing conference matchup is between fourth-ranked Minnesota and Michigan with the Wolverines only six votes from being ranked. The series is in Ann Arbor, providing the Golden Gophers an added obstacle to maintain their ranking atop the conference standings.
Minnesota leads the conference with nine points and has a multitude of players capable of scoring goals as the Golden Gophers have four players who have scored at least three goals this season. Rem Pitlick, Casey Mittelstadt and Tommy Novak all have at least eight points this season.
The Golden Gopher defense has also been outstanding this season as Eric Schierhorn has only allowed 18 goals so far. The Wolverines are no slouch in the offensive zone, as they have scored 28 goals in eight games this season.
While Michigan is a young team in the conference, it split a road series with defending conference tournament champion Penn State with a resounding 5-2 win to conclude the series. Cooper Marody has started off the year on a tear as he has already recorded 12 points. The power play will be key to this series as Minnesota has allowed 10 goals this year on the power play.
Michigan State hosts seventh-ranked Wisconsin and is looking to improve from a disastrous opening weekend against Minnesota. The Spartans only scored once over the weekend, while allowing seven against the conference’s top team in Minnesota.
Wisconsin on the other hand played well against second-ranked North Dakota, but were unable to get the win in either game. Trent Frederic and Will Johnson have been the stars of the Badgers so far as both players have 10 points this season.
Michigan State’s record looks good at 4-4-0, but the Spartans have not played many good opponents this season and they only have one win against ranked teams and that was against Western Michigan. The Spartans have not defended well against top competition this season and will need good goaltending if Michigan State is looking to split the series.
Ohio State takes on UConn this weekend in what is the least exciting Big Ten matchup this season. The Buckeyes are currently No. 17 in the rankings, but suffered a huge setback at Notre Dame by losing both games. Mason Jobst and Tanner Laczynski both have 10 points this season and those numbers should skyrocket against a non-Big Ten defense.
The calling card for the Buckeyes this season has been the penalty kill as they have only allowed three goals on 36 chances. The short-handed consistency allows Ohio State to play aggressive on the defensive end and take chances that other teams might not want to take.
The Big Ten is filled with good hockey teams and this weekend’s matchups will show the conference’s talent against quality opponents.
Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email email@example.com.