Around the Big Ten: Men’s Hockey
Host Andre Magaro alongside analysts Derek Heid and Kyle Cannilo discuss the upcoming matchups and playoff hopes for Big Ten men's hockey:
The Big Ten has been one of the most parody-filled conferences in all of college hockey this season. As the final five weeks of conference play approach, teams will certainly be looking for every resume boosting win they can get.
Each team is hoping for a spot in the NCAA tournament and a seat in the Big Ten tournament, with a chance to make run at a conference title, and possibly even a national championship.
This weekend is no exception, with a trio of matchups that all have huge implications on conference seeding:
Wisconsin at Michigan State
In a matchup between two teams at the bottom of the Big Ten standings, it doesn’t seem that much would be on the line this weekend between the Badgers and the Spartans. If either side can pick up a sweep this weekend, they can climb up to the top four of the conference rankings, should other results go in their favor.
Though Wisconsin swept Michigan State earlier this season, the Badgers have lost six of their last seven games since then, allowing an average of five goals per game. Wisconsin will need a big weekend from star defenseman K’Andre Miller to keep the Spartans offense in check.
Michigan State only had one conference win as the calendar flipped to 2019. They have, however, have won four of their last eight Big Ten matchups to play their way back into relevancy.
Taro Hirose has been a huge reason for Michigan State’s second half resurgence. The Spartans’ lone Hobey Baker award nominee leads all of college hockey with 42 points and 29 assists.
Both sides will go into this matchup believing it is a winnable series crucial to keeping its slender postseason hopes alive.
Michigan at Minnesota
Two schools who are used to being at the highest pedigree college hockey has to offer will fight just to get into the tournament field this weekend in Minneapolis.
Both Michigan and Minnesota sit on the outside of the top-16 in the pairwise rankings. Each knows that a sweep one way or the other will be pivotal in deciding its season, but a split merely keeps both treading water in the standings until next weekend.
Michigan has struggled to find any consistent form this season. Six of its seven Big Ten series have ended in splits.
Last weekend was no exception as the Wolverines dominated Penn State in Thursday’s matchup in Ann Arbor, before being beat on Saturday night in Madison Square Garden. It is fair to say you never know what Michigan team you are going to get on a nightly basis.
Minnesota has been equally as inconsistent throughout the season. They currently have a three-point cushion for third in the Big Ten and its offense is coming off an explosive weekend against Wisconsin.
Captain Tyler Sheehy is coming off a NCAA Star of the Week honors after producing a goal and six assists over the weekend and is certainly a name to look out for against the Wolverines.
Notre Dame at Ohio State
In what is the most significant matchup in the Big Ten, and possibly all of college hockey, this weekend No.14 Notre Dame will travel to Columbus to take on No.5 Ohio State.
This series between the top two teams the conference has to offer could decide home ice advantage for the conference tournament, while also put lock-and-key on an NCAA tournament spot.
The Buckeyes are coming off a bye week after a sweep of Penn State on the road. Ohio State will look to once again put one of the Big Ten’s most efficient power plays to work.
The Buckeyes’ man advantage unit has a current clip of plus-21 and Mason Jobst is tied for second in the NCAA with seven power play goals on the season. This does not bode well for a Notre Dame team that has taken 14 penalties over its last four games.
The good news for the Fighting Irish is that goaltender Cale Morris has come back into form as of late. The Notre Dame backstop only allowed four goals last weekend, including two huge stops in a shootout to secure victory over Michigan State on Saturday.
Notre Dame may struggle to find the back of the net this weekend. The Irish are only averaging 2.7 goals per game in their last seven Big Ten matchups and going against one of the most solid defensive units in all of college hockey.
The Nittany Lions are on a bye this week. Coach Guy Gadowsky looks to prepare his players for a huge home series against Minnesota next weekend after what will surely be another wild weekend of results in the Big Ten.
Andre Magaro is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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