Three things from the weekend in the B1G

All six teams in the Big Ten were in action this weekend. Both conference series yielded sweeps and two teams had games against nonconference opponents.

Here’s how things played out:

  • Minnesota lost to Minnesota State and Minnesota-Duluth at the North Star College Cup.
  • Michigan swept Wisconsin.
  • Michigan State swept Ohio State.
  • Penn State picked up a win and a tie against Northern Michigan.

And here are three things I saw this weekend:

1. Minnesota is in free-fall mode as it takes last place in the North Star College Cup

The Gophers went 0-2 in two key noncnonference games this weekend and dropped themselves to No. 20 in the PairWise rankings. Minnesota fell 4-2 to Minnesota State on Friday night and dropped a disappointing 2-1 game to Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday.

The top team in the country simply dominated the Gophers on Friday night. Even though the margin of victory was only two goals, and things got kind of interesting near the end, I never thought the game was in doubt.

The Mavericks possessed the puck with relative ease during the game and when Minnesota did manage to gain possession, it didn’t keep it for long. The Gophers were able to get the first goal of the game and tied it at 2-2 after Mankato scored two unanswered goals, but it was all Mavericks from the midpoint of the second period on.

Adam Wilcox’s shaky season continued on Friday, the junior net minder gave up three goals on five shots in the second period.

Wilcox was better on Saturday afternoon, but the team in front of him looked like it was trying to get pucks past a brick wall. The game was tied until about three minutes left in the third when Minnesota-Duluth scored on its first shot of the period. The Bulldogs ended up with two shots on goal in the game’s final period.

Minnesota will travel to Wisconsin next weekend for two must-win games against the Badgers.

Side note: Congratulations to Bemidji State work winning this year’s North Star College Cup. The Beavers defensive effort against Minnesota-Duluth and Minnesota State was simply phenomenal. Giving up one goal in two games against those two squads is quite the accomplishment.

2. Michigan’s winning streak continues against Wisconsin

I was at the North Star Cup, so I had to follow the other games on Twitter this weekend. At one point I saw that Wisconsin had a 3-1 over the Wolverines on Friday and thought to myself that maybe this would be the game where Michigan’s defense plays so poorly that its offense can’t compensate.

That didn’t happen.

Michigan came back and won 7-4 on Friday and 6-0 on Saturday. After the game, Red Berenson compared this year’s team to the team he had in 1997-98. That’s some high praise considering that the Wolverines won a national championship that year.

“Well we’ve got a long way to go. But right now in recent weeks, we’ve looked like the team we had in 1997,” Berenson said after Saturday’s game. “But we’ve got a long way to go. Right now it’s good. It’s good to see our guys get some confidence.”

I’m pretty sure that Paula is going to focus on Michigan for this week’s column, so be on the lookout for that. The Wolverines defense still has me thinking that they won’t advance far in a tournament format, but there’s no denying that they’re a fun team to watch.

3. Michigan State is also playing good

Wisconsin wasn’t that tough of a test for Michigan this weekend, but Michigan State will give them a hard time on Friday. The Spartans are coming off of their first sweep of the season, beating Ohio State 4-1 on Friday and 2-0 on Saturday, and they played some pretty good defense this weekend.

The two teams will play Friday night at Joe Louis Arena in a exact rematch of the GLI championship game and then meet again eight days later at Chicago’s Soldier Field for the Hockey City Classic.

52 COMMENTS

  1. WHAT ELSE HAVE WE LEARNED??  THAT SUE FANS WILL ALWAYS BE IGNORANT.  NO MATTER WHAT THE TOPIC, BUT ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO HOCKEY.  IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT YOU SEE, THEY HAVE NO HISTORY WHEN IT COMES TO HOCKEY, LIKE IN MINNESOTA.  JUST GO TO THE MINNESOTA HOCKEY HUB AND SEE THE LIST OF THE 100 GREATEST MINNESOTA  HIGH SCHOOL HOCKEY PLAYERS.  THE LIST WILL BLOW YOU AWAY.  YOU COULD MAKE A LIST OF THE 100 GREATEST CANADIANS TO PLAY IN NODAK.  THAT TOO WOULD BE IMPRESSIVE.  BUT, NO HOME GROWN TALENT TO SPEAK OF!!

    • Let’s see – the last time the rodents won a national championship it was because of a great family of players by the name of POTULNY.  Oh yeah THEY ARE FROM NORTH DAKOTA.   Get your facts before you open your mouth, because I will continue to shut you up.

      • GOOD LUCK SHUTTING ME UP.   I AM TALKING HUNDREDS OF HOCKEY PLAYERS, NOT JUST A HANDFUL.  AND BESIDES, WE ARE THANKFUL HERE IN MINNESOTA THAT THE POTULNY’S USED THEIR HEADS AND CAME TO A REAL UNIVERSITY.  AND YOU TOOLS ARE WELCOME FOR SANDELIN, KRAMPOTICH, KLAVITER, CASEY, OSHIE, PARISE JUST TO NAME A FEW.  AND IF I AM CORRECT, WHICH I KNOW I AM BECAUSE I HAVE MY FACTS STRAIGHT,  YOU HAVE NOT WON SINCE 2000.  AT LEAST MICKEY KRUMP WON A NATIONAL TITLE OUT THERE (1987).  YOU ARE WELCOME!

          • Good idea. I’d be better than Shaver and at least be impartial and not spew out dumb comments on the maroon and urine!

          • Apparently you don’t watch the bozo’s who announce on TV, makes Shaver look like an announcing God. as for being impartial, that is doubtful.

          • TV and radio are absolutely awful. Most biased announcers on the planet. Doug Mcleod and his sidekick make Buck and Aikman look amazing. FSN was stupid to take Frank Mazzocco off the TV.

          • Being biased is the least of McLeod’s problems. Being able to identify when a team is on a PP or knowing why there was a stoppage of play (hint that was a icing or an offsides) is a HUGE issue. Also high on the list is knowing which teams are actually on the ice or the names of Gopher players, not to mention things like stats. McLeod is supposed to be doing play-by-play and I actually timed him once and he actually did play-by-play for 2 minutes and 30 seconds out of an entire period the rest was pointless garbage, which is what co-incidentally got Mazzocco the boot from FSN. Not sure why we can’t get good announcers. As far as being biased, checkout a Michigan or Michigan State game. Their announcers seem unaware that there is even another team on the ice.

          • Have never had to listen to any of the Michigan announcers. But now that you mention it, I see what you are saying about Mcleod.

          • Sadly, I’d still rather listen to the FSN or BTN announcers than the ESPN guys.
            No more Barry Melrose, please!

          • Yes! Total agreement on this. Melrose has my vote for worst hockey announcer ever, although those two from ESPNU that did the first Wisconsin/Minnesota game last year didn’t seem to know what hockey was at all. Turned out one did tennis broadcasts previously. Nice.

          • I lived in Duluth/Superior for 10 years so subsequently watched quite a few Bulldog games on tv. I believe it was Bill Watson doing color when I was there and he was so biased he made Sonmor seem like an angel. By far the worst I have heard. I actually muted the tv and “gasp” had to listen to Sonmor over him.

          • I didn’t mind the banter between Mazzocco and the Wooger as it was quite comical at times. Mazzocco’s smooth call of the game and Woog’s comments as a knowledgeable former coach were great. Didn’t like the change to LaPanta and McLeod still belongs on the radio.

  2. The first MSU sweep in over a year. Good job Boys. But……OSU was down five regulars. A sweep is nice, but the real test will be at the JLA Friday against an UM team that is clicking at a high rate of speed.

    • Not expecting a miracle that game. UM is a whole different class of beast than OSU. The team that won the GLI from State was down 4 players in the World Juniors (correct me if I’m wrong) and now they’re back and on a roll.

      I thought it would come down to UM-Minnesota. Looks like its UM all the way, maybe Penn State can steal a bid somehow. After the game against NMU, that’s not concrete.

    • Decatur, you missed my comment on Saturday’s recaps. Looks like your boy Anastos got a one year extension through 2017…One of these next two games will come down to goaltending and MSU will take at least a SO win v U of M. Right now, as painful as it is for me to type, in my opinion no team is better than the U of M.

  3. First off kudos to the Bemidji State Beavers, for a great North Star College Cup win. They were the only unranked team in the field and showed why defense is what wins games. Well done!
    Now on to my Gophers. I believe that Drew hit the nail on the head with the term “free fall” and the Gophers are in one. It has been nothing short of depressing to watch the wheels come off of this team with no only the high expectations entering the season but also with how they started the season. I agree that they did not look good against Minnesota State, but what really stood out was the play of Adam Wilcox. He has generally been the pillar on this team the last couple of years and when the Gophers played poorly in front of him, he rose to the occasion and carried the team on his back. Not so this year, it seems that instead of his great play radiating out to the team, the teams poor play has radiated back to Wilcox. After turning in his worst performance of his career in Michigan, he looked uncertain against Wisconsin and rebound control was a major issue and he looked terrible against Minnesota State. Simply put 3 of the 4 goals simply would not have been scored against the Wilcox of seasons past. I likely could count on one hand how many times he was beat to the glove side in his first two years, this is happening on a regular basis now. The Gophers looked out of sync on Friday, especially on the power play.
    Saturday was a better game when the team faced UMD who has been nothing short of a thorn in their side the last two years. This game seemed to be a microcosm of their season. They outplayed, outshot and outhustled the opposition (which is a big deal against UMD because they were basically dominated most of the past 4 games they played against them) especially in the third period where they had great scoring opportunity after great scoring opportunity, but they would make the extra pass, wait an extra second to shoot or even when they had chances there was no one who could finish. Wilcox probably played his best game since the break with several outstanding saves, but like so many other games this season, the Gophers were in a close game and made one mistake in their own end (Skjei should have reversed the face off win instead he tried to force it up the wall) and it ends up in the back of the net and the result is another loss. Even when they are playing well they are losing. I am a firm believer that in hockey you make your own luck, but it seems that the Gophers have none right now.

    • The gophers did play a better 3rd period against Duluth but they even before this seem to be lacking the intensity, hunger and desire to put forth and there seem so many problems. They believe that there skill and talent will win the game which is wrong. Yes they take many shots but most are far out and that is what the other team wants. Wilcox did play a better game today but he doesn’t look confident and that seems to go back to the Union championship victory last year which still seems to be affecting him as he doesn’t look focused. Going back to that it seems like coach Lucia doesn’t take timeouts as for example the championship game last year when Union scored 3 goals quickly and that took control but no time out just like Michigan game when Michigan scored 3 goals in a row no time out. I am a die hard gopher fan but this years team is lacking the desire and is more individual, predictable also shooting outside and dumping in the puck so much. Last year they were a team and hungry. Still go gophers it will be tough to get to the regionals with all the good teams out there but who knows.

      • This team just does do the little things that are required to win games. They have a lot of talent but no role players like Parenteau, Holl, Serratore or Condon on this team. Those kids didn’t score a ton, but could be counted on in key situations to do the right thing and take up the quality minutes. Also last year the 4th line could be counted on for some goals here and there, which took pressure off the other lines. This year the 4th line it a throwaway line. You know that they aren’t going to score and are praying they don’t get scored against even time they go out on the ice.
        While I agree with you on the timeouts, I think the issues here would not be resolved by calling a time out, they run much deeper.
        I alluded to the lack of net front presence a few weeks ago here and I have seen some improvement in that respect against Wisconsin and Minnesota State and UMD, but there needs to be players who will step up and pay the price, which is the same issue with the penalty kill.
        This team could get hot down the stretch and be the team that we all expected, but not even being in the top 20 in the pairwise, they have a lot of work to do and given that most of their remaining opposition is unranked, I am not sure that they will be able to pull it off. Its been a most depressing season.

        • Yeah, I think this is even more disappointing than two years ago, Bjugstad and Haula’s last year. That team should have dominated. Instead, they did well, but continually showed vulnerability.
          This year, there’s actually more talent overall. But it’s mostly young, and they don’t seem to have a lot of passion.

          To win the NC, you need leaders who can fire up the team, and a team that loves to get fired up.
          Leopold, et al, were very good at it. That’s what made the 2002 team so special. That’s why they could come from behind to beat Maine.
          Condon was actually pretty good at leading, too.

          But this year, there’s no one. Rau is a good player, but I think he’s not a natural leader. He’s not the problem, he’s just not the solution, either.
          And, as you said, the disappointment will only grow if they start to get things together, but still can’t make the tourney.

          • I am in total agreement with you here that we have seen all of this before. 2 years ago with Bjugstad and company they seemed rather bored and it showed in their play. Why you could come back for another year and play half-hearted, I am not sure, but that is another story. This year seems different in that they don’t seem bored or uninterested (to me at least), but that it seems that everything came together so easily last year without a whole lot of effort and they expect the same thing this year without rolling up their sleeves, getting dirty to make it happen. I agree about Rau also. He is one of the best two way players in all of college hockey, but I don’t think that he is a locker room leader, just an on-ice, watch my play type of leader. This team needs someone to go in the locker room and laydown the law and the coaching staff needs to sit whoever is not complying, it can’t get any worse than it already is.

  4. Michigan didn’t win a national championship in 1997. It won one in 1996 and in 1998 but lost the Frozen Four semi-final in 1997 with what was probably Red’s best team in his 31 years as coach of the Maize and Blue.

    • Drew is obviously referring to 97-98, but was Red referring to 97-98 or 96-97? I’ve also heard the 96-97 team referred to as possibly Michigan’s best ever, and 97-98 as an inconsistent team that got hot at the right time. The latter is accurate for this year’s team, but they’re also supremely talented, much like 96-97. Either way, I’d gladly take a semifinal loss at the Frozen Four. I’d like to see another FF berth before Red retires.

      On another note, I’ll volunteer for grammar police duty this week: MSU is either “playing well” or “playing good hockey”.

      • However you wanna call it, the “97 team” is always referring to the team between the 96 and 98 national championship years. It’s always been called the best team Red’s ever had, but we all know the tournament doesn’t always reward the true ‘best’ team

      • I saw that ’98 team get swept at home by a decent but not great LSSU team that season and get bounced by OSU in the CCHA semi’s. 11 freshmen, a fortuitious break having the regional at Yost, but probably the best Regional final I ever saw against UND with MSU losing to OSU also. Michigan beat a great BC team in Boston, too.

    • That is correct, but Drew got it right when he said that Michigan won the NC in 1997-98, It was Red who was quoted as saying this team looks like the 1997 team. Drew just got the comparision wrong. And yes, that 1997 team was stacked. I would have loved to see them play North Dakota in the final.

  5. As noted by Alan, the 97 Michigan team Red was referring to didn’t win the national title. That team is regarded as the best one Red’s ever had but they lost in the Frozen Four semi. Part of the reason why the 98 title was so surprising. It was supposed to be a rebuild after losing so much talent from the 97 team

  6. Michigan didn’t win a NC in 97. That was likely the best team of his time at Michigan, but the 96 and 98 teams won NCs. 97 lost in the semis to BU. I know, I was at the game….

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