In the penultimate weekend of regular-season Big Ten play, we had more evidence that the upcoming Big Ten tournament has the potential for a surprise or two.
1. Exhibit A: Michigan State.
After losing 7-1 to No. 12 Michigan in Ann Arbor Friday night, Michigan State came from behind to defeat the Wolverines 4-3 at home Saturday. Down 3-1 at the end of the first, the Spartans pulled together in front of senior goaltender Will Yanakeff to score three unanswered goals and take the game. Yanakeff — who came in at the start of the second in relief of sophomore Jake Hildebrand — shut out his team’s arch-rivals in just his fifth game of the season. Most impressive in that win was the way in which the Spartans shut down the Wolverines in the third period, scoring two goals 1:13 apart and managing Michigan through the rest of the stanza to guarantee the win.
2. Exhibit B: Ohio State.
After losing 5-1 to visiting No. 1 Minnesota the night before, Ohio State came from behind to tie the Golden Gophers and then take the extra shootout point Saturday. The Buckeyes tied the game for the first time early in the third period on Ryan Dzingel’s seventh power-play goal of the season, but Gabe Guertler’s second goal of the season 24 seconds later put the Gophers ahead again. Then with less than four minutes left in regulation, Nick Schilkey tied the game again for the Buckeyes — fed by Dzingel — and Schilkey was the lone player to score in the shootout. The Buckeyes outshot the Gophers 43-32, 15-3 in the third period alone.
3. Exhibit C: Penn State.
The Nittany Lions dropped two close games to No. 5 Wisconsin, coming from behind in the third period of each contest and taking the Badgers to overtime Saturday. In Friday’s 4-2 game, with the Badgers leading 3-0 in the third, Casey Bailey put the Nittany Lions on the board at 12:04, his ninth goal of the season. Then at 19:00, Taylor Holstrom’s sixth goal of the year put Penn State to within one, but Wisconsin’s Mark Zengerle scored with six seconds left in regulation to give the Badgers the win.
The Nittany Lions engineered another comeback before losing Saturday’s game, 3-2. After the Badgers scored at 9:01 in the first, Bailey answered for Penn State 1:06 later on the power play. Trailing 2-1 late in the third, Kenny Brooks tied the game for Penn State at 17:16. With 21 seconds left in overtime, though, Mark Zengerle netted Wisconsin’s second game-winning goal of the weekend. Zengerle had two goals and three assists on the weekend.