Men’s Hockey: Around the Big Ten Week One
ComRadio's Will Desautelle, John Petrolias and Eric Ohlson tell you all you need to know about this weekend's hockey matchups around the Big Ten conference.
Hockey season is officially underway, and it should be an exciting one in the Big Ten this year. This year will be an opportunity for the conference to redeem itself after two straight years of relatively poor play outside the conference.
For the past two seasons, the Big Ten has been labeled as a “middle of the pack” conference in college hockey. As a whole, the Big Ten posted a .600 winning percentage in the 2013-2014 season, which was second best among the six conferences. However, those percentages have plummeted to .466 and .500 in each of the last two seasons, ranking in 5th and 4th among the six conferences respectively. The Big Ten will be looking to climb back into the upper echelon of college hockey this season.
Five teams will see non-conference action this week. Michigan State and Wisconsin will each play a pair of contests, with the Spartans kicking off their season at Lake Superior State in a Friday-Saturday series, while the Badgers will host No. 6 ranked Boston College on Friday and Sunday.
Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State each have one road contest this week. The Nittany Lions will face Mercyhurst on Friday in Erie, while the Wolverines will travel to Ferris State and the Buckeyes will face off against in-state rival Miami on Saturday.
Last season was a very disappointing one for Wisconsin, posting a dismal 4-26 record, including an underwhelming 2-15 record in conference play. The Badgers took a step in the right direction to start off their 2016 campaign, splitting its series against Northern Michigan. Wisconsin will look to be competitive in the Big Ten again this season, but they will have their hands full this week against Boston College. Not many people are giving them a chance against this talented Eagles team, but they will have the benefit of being at home for this series.
Michigan State finished second in the conference last season and will have a chance to start off the season strong in their opening series against Lake Superior State. The Spartans, who are unranked to start the season, will be looking to improve on their 4-10-2-nonconference record from last year.
Ohio State opened their season strongly with a win and a tie at the Ice Breaker Tournament in Denver. The Buckeyes defeated No. 3 ranked Denver 3-2 last Friday and tied Air Force 3-3 in the championship game one day later. Three players from this squad were named to the Big Ten preseason watch list. The Buckeyes enter the rankings this week at No. 19 and will have an opportunity add to their solid start to this year with a big win over Miami.
Penn State appears to be a much-improved team this year, and will look to take the next step forward in the Big Ten this season. Last week, the Nittany Lions split their series with No. 15 ranked St. Lawrence. Penn State is still unranked as of now, but received 47 votes and could sneak their way into next week’s rankings with a convincing win over Mercyhurst on Friday.
Three-time Big-Ten champion Minnesota is the preseason favorite to win the league title again. The Golden Gophers had four players added to the conference preseason watch list, including two unanimous selections in Justin Kloos and Eric Schierhorn. Minnesota won their first two games comfortably, outscoring their opponents 12-3. They will play an exhibition game against the U.S. 18 and under team on Friday.
Big Ten Hockey has faltered the last couple of season and will be looking for a bounce back year. The conference boasts several talented teams and should be much improved this year. The key for the Big Ten will be to ameliorate its subpar nonconference record from the last two seasons. If the six teams in the conference can actualize this need, the Big Ten will be back among the top conferences in college hockey.
Will Desautelle is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Junior / Broadcast Journalism
John Petrolias is a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, and is a play-by-play broadcaster and producer for men’s hockey content, as well as the host/founder of Pittsburgh Sound—Happy Valley’s only Pittsburgh sports talk show. Petrolias has previously covered the men’s hockey team for The Daily Collegian, covers Penn State football for PennLive.com and has interned at the Pittsburgh Penguins, Penn State Athletics/BTN Live Student U production, as well as the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s PR department in Pittsburgh. John aspires to be an on-air journalist or play-by-play broadcaster for a news/sports outlet and plans to go to law school to become a media and First Amendment attorney.
Senior / Broadcast Journalism