Hey! There’s hockey this weekend!
Once again, Drew Claussen and I will be covering the Big Ten for USCHO.com. Once again, I’m sure that my partner-in-writing will shame me in the picks category.
As a reminder, here’s how each of us did during the 2013-14 regular season:
Drew: 85-43-14 (.679)
Paula: 86-41-16 (.657)
College hockey opens with nonconference and exhibition play this weekend, and the only game that counts for Big Ten teams is a tilt between two former CCHA foes, Michigan and Ferris State. The Nos. 8 and 9 teams in the Preseason USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll, respectively, meet Saturday night in Ewigleben Arena in Big Rapids at 7:00 p.m. The game is televised in Michigan on Comcast and Ferris Television.
Drew: It’s hard to put stock into any rankings that come out before teams take the ice, but the preseason polls do confirm what I had been thinking since I saw this match up announced — these teams are pretty evenly matched. Michigan is ranked No. 8 in the USCHO poll and Ferris State is No. 9. One nugget that I found interesting while browsing through Michigan’s game notes was that this year is the first time in 13 years that the Wolverines will open the season with a road game. Also, Michigan hasn’t won at Ferris State since January 2011. Michigan holds a 68-29-4 all-time record against the Bulldogs. The two teams played to a draw during their contest last season, which makes four ties in the past five seasons. The Wolverines have won seven games during that span and the Bulldogs have claimed two victories. I’m tempted to pick a tie again, but that would be a pretty boring way to start off the new season, so I’ll go with the home team.
Paula: The Wolverines ended their 2013-14 season with a loss to Penn State in the inaugural Big Ten Tournament, and Michigan went 4-5-1 in their last 10 games last year. The Bulldogs bowed out to North Dakota in the deciding game of the 2014 NCAA Midwest Regional Tournament and went 6-4-0 in their last 10. In last season’s 2-2 tie between these teams (Dec. 11, 2013), the Wolverines led 2-1 going into the third period in Yost Ice Arena, but freshman defenseman Brandon Anselmini’s late third-period goal knotted the game. As Drew said, these two opponents play fierce, close games.
Drew’s pick: Ferris State, 3-1.
Paula’s pick: I have the Bulldogs higher than the Wolverines in my preseason poll, so that’s where I go, too. Ferris State, 3-2.
There are a few exhibition games scattered throughout the next week. Drew and I don’t pick those, but here’s the schedule:
Guelph at Ohio State (4:00 p.m.)
N. Alberta Institute of Technology at No. 1 Minnesota (8:00 p.m.)
U.S. Under-18 at No. 8 Michigan (7:30 p.m.)
Windsor at Michigan State (7:00 p.m.)
Wilfrid Lauerier at No. 8 Michigan (7:30 p.m.)