Minnesota and Wisconsin were the only two Big Ten teams in action this weekend. The Gophers played in their home tournament, the Mariucci Classic, and tied Colgate before downing RPI. The Badgers split a home series with former WCHA foe Alaska-Anchorage.
Here are three things that I saw in the four games.
1. Gophers look rusty on Friday
I have had to remind myself multiple times that the Gophers tied Colgate on Friday night and that the only purpose of the shootout was to determine who advanced to the championship game of the tournament. Maybe it was because the Gophers loss in the shootout meant there wouldn’t be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup or maybe it was because the Gophers played like a team that had built up some rust in their nearly month of rest, but Friday night definitely felt like a Colgate victory, not a 2-2 tie.
Acting head coach Mike Guentzel felt the same way.
“It’s a hollow feeling in the dressing room,” Guentzel said after Friday’s game. “Really, the bottom line for me tonight is if you turn pucks over like we did on the blue line and the neutral zone, it’s going to cost you a hockey game. We tied, but it feels like a loss, and the turnovers are something that we’re going to have to address.”
Colgate went on to blank No. 2 Ferris State 3-0 on Saturday, so that makes the tie look a little better for Minnesota. I’ve covered the Gophers for the past couple seasons and, like any other team, they’re prone to a few duds. I think the Gophers (and Ferris State) just ran into a youthful and hungry team and that, combined with some holiday rust, led to Colgate winning the Mariucci Classic. It shouldn’t have any long-term effects for Minnesota, which was made evident after Saturday’s game.
2. Minnesota bounces back on Saturday
Things didn’t look much better for Minnesota heading into the final seconds of the first period in its game with RPI on Saturday. The Gophers trailed 1-0 with under one minute left in the period, but tallied the game-tying goal before the horn and scored twice in the first two minutes of the second period.
Connor Reilly tipped in a goal in the first and Travis Boyd and Kyle Rau notched the goals early in the second.
“We came out not the exact way that we wanted to,” Boyd said. “Getting that goal to get some momentum heading into the second was huge.”
Rau had two goals and an assist in the 6-2 victory, he tallied his 100th career point this weekend.
3. Badgers battle back for split with Seawolves, lose Kerdiles
In Friday’s picks post I said something along the lines of “Wisconsin doesn’t lose at home and Alaska-Anchorage doesn’t win on the road.” I thought this series had all the makings of a Wisconsin sweep. I was wrong.
The Seawolves scored first in both games and won Friday’s contest 3-2 before Wisconsin came back with a 4-3 win on Saturday.
After getting him back from the World Juniors tournament on Saturday, Wisconsin instantly lost Nic Kerdiles to injury during Saturday’s game.
“They have to do some x-rays and that,” Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said of Kerdiles’ injury. “It’s not day-to-day I know that for sure, you’re probably looking at a couple of weeks.”