Three things from the weekend in the Big Ten

All six Big Ten teams were in action against each other this weekend. Both of the two-game series ended in sweeps and Michigan battled back for a split in its elongated two-weekend series with Michigan State.

Here’s how things ended up:

  • Penn State swept Wisconsin at home and picked up its first season sweep of a conference foe in program history.
  • Minnesota swept Ohio State at home.
  • Michigan took down Michigan State outside at Chicago’s Soldier Field.

Here are my three thoughts from the weekend:

1. Penn State is a very dangerous team

The pessimistic naysayer in me still wants to find reasons to not believe in Penn State but the reality is that this squad is a very real threat to win the conference and do some damage in postseason play, despite this being only its third season at the Division I level.

The Nittany Lions defeated Wisconsin 5-2 and 4-1 this weekend to complete the four-game season sweep of the Badgers, which is Penn State’s first season sweep in program history.

This team is fun to watch and people in “Hockey Valley” are showing up to watch. More than 6,000 people showed up to Pegula Ice Arena for each game against the Badgers this weekend.

Consistency has been the Achilles heel for Penn State this year and it does have some bad losses and ties on its résumé. However, if you look at the rest of the Big Ten and even every other team in the country, with the exception of Minnesota State, North Dakota and Boston University, teams have struggled to put together long winning streaks.

The Nittany Lions are going to be an interesting team to watch down the stretch. They have very winnable series on the schedule against Michigan State and Oho State, but also have to play Minnesota four times and Michigan twice more. If Penn State is able to win three or four of those games against the Gophers and Wolverines it’ll do wonders in terms of how far it can go into the postseason.

2. The Gophers looked like the Gophers again

Minnesota’s Travis Boyd doesn’t have a “C” or an “A” sewn on the front of his jersey, but the senior has been the straw that stirs the drink for the Gophers this season.

Boyd had four goals, including a hat trick on Saturday, and one assist in the Gophers’ 4-2 and 6-2 victories over Ohio State this weekend.

It was obvious that the Gophers missed Boyd when an injury forced him to miss some time earlier this season, but his return to the lineup didn’t immediately pull Minnesota out of its slump. However, Boyd has put up good numbers when he’s been able to play this season and was very vocal about the team’s recent play, saying that it was unacceptable.

His play this weekend, which should make him the first star this week, wasn’t the only bright spot for Minnesota this weekend. The Gophers also got goals from some players who had been struggling like Hudson Fasching, Vinni Lettieri and Leon Bristedt. Adam Wilcox also looked like he took a couple steps in the right direction towards being the kind of goaltender that he’s capable of being.

This sweep was exactly what the doctor ordered for Minnesota and it is now in a tie for No. 13 in the PairWise rankings. My prediction is that the Gophers aren’t going to win enough down to stretch to get an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, but remember, all it takes is a maximum of three wins to get the automatic bid from winning the Big Ten Tournament.

3. Good things come to those who wait

There was a cloud of doubt hanging over the Hockey City Classic on Saturday, with some reports that the games at Chicago’s Soldier Field might have to be postponed. The only problem was that the metaphorical cloud didn’t block out the sun’s rays.

The game, however, did go on and Michigan defeated Michigan State 4-1 after 100-minute delay to the game’s start time. The afternoon game between Western Michigan and Miami was also delayed because of warm weather and mechanical issues.

The victory allowed Michigan to retain its lead in the Big Ten conference standings. The Wolverines hold a two-point lead over Penn State. Minnesota clawed its way up to third after getting six points this weekend.


    • Someone who actually knows hockey and points out all her countless mistakes. Guess it is really hard to proof read or edit, its sad really.

      • That would be true, but pointing out facts is not disabusing someone. If she’s saying that we have been disabusing her she’s saying that our facts are not enough to persuade her. This can only mean that she views facts as irrelevant , which by doing so proves that she is clearly a person who does not support the use of logic in an argument. Thus, she has again proven to be completely illogical and incapable of fact based statements. *Disclaimer*: USCHO mods this was merely a critique of the writer’s horribly written mistake filled article and is in no way a personal attack, and is by no means a violation of your policy.

        • Actually bud, one of the many definitions of the word ‘disabuse’ is “to set right.” So pointing out erroneous facts would actually be considered “disabusing” her. Paula-1…Fire PW- 0
          *Disclaimer* I am not trying to personally attack Mr. FirePW. I am just making sure that all posts are 100% accurate.

          • Oh how sweet of you to defender Hockey Fan, you see I was using the exact definition from the Mac dictionary which for every other word has any secondary meaning in the definition. Oddly enough disabuse does not have your definition of the word in it. None the less seeing as your argument makes the point moot Paula would still be scoreless. Now if you kept up with my other posts you would actually know that it is FirePW 6 Paula 0. Not to mention I didn’t see your name on the roster for her team, so that would disallow her goal anyway and in turn give me a penalty shot. OH NO look at that I just scored again. FirePW-7 Paula-0

          • If Jerry Kuhn was in goal you would not score on that penalty shot lol.

            I apologize. I did not realize that you were using the Mac dictionary. I’d like to take this time to point out some flaws in your post above.

            The first sentence is atrocious. The more I read it, the more I am confused. If you want to take Paula’s place you are going to need to tidy up that syntax! (and yes, I assumed you were trying to sound intelligent) The comma should come before ‘Hockey Fan’ since you were addressing me directly. Next, you should use a period to avoid that awkward sounding run-on sentence. Honestly, I could be here all day editing your post.

            Yes I am defending Paula. Although she does make blatant mistakes in facts and figures, her job is not that simple. She has to juggle thousands of statistics every week. Yes the editing should be better and yes she should be more careful, but give the lady a break. FirePW is quick to point out the mistakes, but he/she can’t even write a coherent critique.

          • You should have a comma after yes in the first sentence of your last paragraph. I actually thought his/her critique was quite coherent, unlike some of Paula’s articles.

          • The comma is optional in that case. I probably should have used one for emphasis though. This is good. Constructive criticism is key.

          • Well aren’t we just the little grammar nazi. Maybe you should help Paula proof read her articles. Paula’s job is to teach writing, so she has no excuse to have not just factual but grammatical and syntax error filled articles. Oddly enough, Hockey Fan, you don’t seem to critique her syntax or grammar, but you’re more than willing to go after others. You have your own errors as well. What do you mean by “This is good.” What does “This” stand for? “Constructive criticism is key.” That would be a fragment my dear friend, you forgot to state what constructive criticism is key to. I know I probably made grammar or syntax errors in this, but I don’t get off on finding errors that common people make in their writing. I especially don’t go after people’s comments, but there is no excuse for a staff writer who is also a writing professor to have blatant factual, grammatical, and syntax errors week in and week out. Right now, Hockey Fan, you’re the pot calling the kettle black while creating a double standard that favors Paula.

  1. On point one, I totally agree. Penn State is a very dangerous team this year. They have a potent offense that generates a lot of shots and many goals. They also have developed on defense and have gotten very good goaltending. What I find most interesting is Gadowsky has taken players like Casey Bailey and Eric Sched, that were so-so players for Anchorage and has made them into excellent offensive players for Penn State. I am actually hoping that they continue to move up in the pairwise as that would only help the Gophers when they play Penn State, provided that they can beat them, which will be a tall order at Pegula.
    On point two, I somewhat agree. We are at a time of the season where the seniors need to step up and the Gophers are seeing that with Boyd’s 4 goals this weekend, Ambroz getting 4 goals last weekend and Rau scoring in 4 of the last 5 games. For awhile the offense seemed to sputter and goals were hard to come by, it seems that the offense has returned with 39 goals in the last 10 games. More the issue seems to be goaltending and while I agree that Wilcox took steps last weekend to get back to playing the way he is capable of playing, It still looks like he is pressing and trying to make extra sure on routine saves and thinking too much, rather than just letting the game come to him and not think about it, just let it happen. I remain hopeful, that he will continue to get back to his play of the past couple of years and if he does the Gophers are capable of winning any game. I disagree with Drew that the Gophers will not be able to win enough games to get into the field of 16. They have home games against Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State. The Gophers deserved a better fate against Michigan when they played them at Yost and I look for a different outcome when they come to Mariucci next weekend. Also considering the revenge factor, that the Gophers are 9-2-1 at home and Michigan is 4-5 on the road and that this series is a must win for the Gophers if they want to defend their status as B1G regular season champs and it would go a long way to solidify their spot in the field of 16, I look for the Gophers to be fired up next weekend. If the Gophers could sweep, they would then have Michigan State and Penn State at home, both of them have struggled on the road and Ohio State, which is 2-7 at home and Penn State on the road. If we could split at Penn State I can see from 6 to 9 wins the rest of the way and given the inconsistency of the ranked teams this year, that may be enough to get into the field of 16 without winning the B1G tournament. I see a favorable schedule for the Gophers the rest of the way, but they need to make the most of it and most of all Wilcox needs to return to form.
    On point 3, another game with poor conditions at Solider Field. Ugh.

      • I will be there next weekend also. Both teams have had goaltending issues this season. I give the scoring edge to Michigan, but if Wilcox plays like we know he can and with the Gophers at home with so much on the line, I would give them the overall edge. We will see what this team is made of this weekend.

  2. I’m a Michigan fan and I do not like Penn State, but you have to be impressed by how quickly they’ve built their program. They’re right in the hunt for a Big Ten title and a tournament berth in just their 3rd year as a D-I team. Impressive.

    • After what Penn State has done to Michigan the last two years, I understand your dislike for them. I’m still not on board that PSU is a dangerous team yet. The record looks nice, but it is somewhat deceiving when their SOS is only ranked 45th. We shall see in the next few weeks.

      • PSU has some speed but play a disjointed game. They are too easily stretched in the neutral zone. Disciplined teams find the weakness. Like you, I don’t consider them dangerous. Michigan destroyed them. Berenson was playing the 3rd and 4th line for most of the third period. When the 1st line did hit the ice in the 3rd they scored tallying an 8-1 win.

  3. Funniest headline of the year….. the gophers look like the gophers again……

    Nice job beating the 38th place team……….

        • Or beating CC the 48th ranked team, or beating Lake Superior State whose ranked 51st, or beating the 52nd best team Air Force in overtime.. I’m good with numbers too….

          • Yet we didn’t tie any of them and didn’t give up 9 goals to the 55th place team. It’s ok to be the 5th best team in the state…….enjoy the cupcake 6 league.

        • You are a ND fan, yet you can’t seem to stop talking about the Gophers. Does the .6 second game still leave a bad taste in your mouth or something? Is Justin Holl the Bucky Dent of North Dakota fans?

          • You are the only one bringing up .6. So apparently you are obsessed with it. But nice job in that title game……sure was a classic golden choke.

          • Did I say that? But when rodent fans act like theyve already won the title before the weekend even started and then get whooped, that is priceless.

          • I have to ask you. Do you even know who Bucky Dent is? I’m not obsessed with it, just trying to figure out where YOUR obsession with the Gophers comes from since you constantly are talking about them.

          • Have to put the rodent fans back in their place. Think they are God’s gift to the world. Think I’ve heard for 10 years straight that they are winning the title at the beginning of the season. Lack luster, fair weather fans. Can’t even fill their 9k seat pole barn. “Greatest sold out arena with the most empty seats.”

          • You are mistaking the passion the Gopher fans have for their team as arrogance. Everyone knows how classy ND fans are! (nogopher, you are excluded from that comment)

          • Maybe not you, but I can’t even count the number of times mn fans have gotten in my face to yell because they won a game that meant nothing. On the plus side, omaha fans have surpassed mn fans as biggest douches

          • You have never taken in a game at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor have you Golden? Those folks are far and beyond the worse.

            I’ve been to a number of Arenas. They win the obnoxious fan award hands down.

          • I have not, so I guess I can’t say how bad they would be. Maybe one day. Some DU fans have been pretty bad when we were in Denver.

          • Don’t fill a 9k stadium? Funny. Avg. attendance this year, and every year, is just shy of 10K. Keep trying…….

          • Sure they aren’t just counting tickets sold? Did you see the number of empty seats this last weekend? 4 million people in the Twin cities and they can’t fill them.

          • I attended both games. Not many, if any, open seats. Can ya see the suites from your vantage point? They are usually overflowing with seat holders. Keep hatin’…..

          • If a college hockey game is on, I’ll watch. Keep your enemies close……but sometimes those mn games aren’t even on. Weird, didn’t they make a big 10 channel with 4 alternative channels for all the action?

          • Excuse us for having other sporting event options to attend rather than being the only show in town as your team is.

          • Hmmmm, only things going on are the wolves and wild…….neither of them had games on both Friday and satuday. Even if they were, 4 million people in the cities and still couldn’t fill the seats. Just admit it, fair weather fans.

          • Why does it bother you if every seat doesn’t have someone sitting in it? The seat was still sold. If the seat holder didn’t want to attend, so what?

          • Speaking of chokes, so how many times has Hakstol taken UND to the Frozen Four and come back with a goose egg?

          • And there it is. I knew you couldn’t resist. Keep on keeping on…….two titles behind….how many years in a row did mn miss the tourney with that amazing pool of talent? 3….yeah, they played great though.

          • I knew you couldn’t resist 7 to 5……yawn! End of the Woog era sucked, just like the end of the Gasparini era did…..anything else?

          • Just let me know and I’ll come up with something for that lack luster program. Definitely lucky to be in the cupcake 6 conference though. Better chance of sneaking into the tourney with bad play.

          • Just like the nodak no names last year in the nchc (no chance hockey conference) needing to pray for a team to loose and win a 3rd place game. If the conference was so awesome there would be no 3rd place game.

  4. I am in agreement with the Penn State comment. They can be dangerous. And MSU still cannot score. 2.25 gpg (season) Isn’t going to get you far. Take away the EN goals against OSU and they are averaging 1.8 a game since the GLI. Add the EN and they jump up to mind blowing 2.16. (and the media was calling this a “resurgence”) They are doing a magnificant job of wasting the talents of a superb Goaltender. I wonder if Hildebrand will want to put up with this dismal offense next season?

    • Decatur: and MSU’s GAA after the break is even better than their GPG. Forwards committing, “D” over-coming and a “G” – who figured it out as a freshman…The question for Anastos is “WILL” his kids go to the goal like PSU’s?

      • Sat, as intelligent as a young man that you are, and as a dad: stop being stinking baited; At least Decatur and I agree on one thing: MSU wins the NCAA in 2016 as Jake stays for “the one”…

      • I would like the best of both worlds Noke; scoring and defense. The D they have. Scoring …… not.

        There are times I think these guys couldn’t ‘score’ in a brothel.

  5. Question: Penn State and Minnesota will both play 36 games instead of the usual 34. I think for PSU it’s because they went to Alaska, but what about for Minny? I don’t see anything in there schedule that explains why they get to play two extra nonconference games. Thanks to anyone who knows the answer.

      • Do you know what makes the Icebreaker exempt? Mariucci Classic is not, GLI is not, and the Icebreaker is after other teams have started nonconference games. If it was before all other games, a la the old Kickoff Classic that allowed teams a 12th game (when 11 was the norm) then ok, but that isn’t the case here.

        • The week before the Icebreaker, there were only 3 games played that counted as the rest were exhibitions. Not sure why you are questioning this. The preseason NIT in basketball was played 2 weeks after the first games were played.

    • Not sure about PSU but for MN the games against:
      Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and
      US Under 18 team
      do not count towards the record (not Division 1 programs).

  6. Big thanks to all the goofs fans who are putting chocks in his place on here. I think he overloaded uscho moron locator’s capacity, don’t really se him around anymore….

    Everyone together now…. “#######ONNNNNNWISCONSON!!!!!!!”

    I await chocks’ unoriginal, repetitive, uninspired response…. probably soemthing about a moms basement. *pre-yawwwwwwwwns*


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