Greetings from the Xcel Energy Center press box, where Minnesota State just completed a 3-2 victory over Minnesota (more on the Gophers later). Here’s how the B1G teams did this weekend:
- Michigan swept Penn State in a Thursday-Saturday series
- Wisconsin swept Alaska-Fairbanks at home
- Ohio State and Michigan State split their series in Columbus
- Minnesota dropped both of its games at the North Star College Cup in St. Paul. Bemidji State beat the Gophers 4-2 on Saturday and Minnesota State defeated them 3-2 on Sunday.
Here are my three thoughts from the weekend:
1. Michigan’s “CCM line” is legit
The Wolverines’ top line of JT Compher, Kyle Connor and Tyler Motte had another great weekend. The trio combined for four goals and seven assists during Thursday’s game and had three goals and two assists at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
Compher scored twice, the second being a late empty-netter, during Michigan’s four-goal third period on Saturday and helped complete the comeback from down 3-2 after two periods.
Side note; Senior Justin Selman scored the game-winning goal on Saturday. Here’s a quote Red Berenson gave me about Selman when I talked to him last week that I didn’t put in the column:
“It’s been a process for Justin. He came in with high credentials and had trouble living up to them — with injuries — but we saw the good things, we just couldn’t keep him healthy or keep him confident or keep him playing well for a period of time. His second year was worse and it looked like he was falling off of his game, but it came around last year. He ended up on a line with Zach Hyman and Dylan Larkin, and you know where Dylan Larkin is now. He really started to show what we though he could show when we recruited him, so good for him. The last half of the year last year was a really strong finish for Justin and now he’s off to a good start. He’s got a good role on our power play and penalty killing and a top line, so I’d say he’s becoming the player that we thought he would be.”
2. Wisconsin had a nice bounce-back weekend
The Badgers, who got thoroughly embarrassed by Minnesota last weekend, rebounded with two nice wins over Alaska this weekend. Now, Alaska isn’t one of the elite teams but a sweep of any team is an impressive feat for the Badgers right now.
The Badgers won a defensive-minded game 4-3 on Friday where they only gave up 23 shots on goal and came back on Saturday with a four-goal third period to win 5-2.
The sweep doesn’t really change my opinion of the Badgers, I still think they’ll fight with Michigan State for the No. 6 spot in the conference, but their scoring and goaltending is good enough to be a thorn in the side of the top three down the stretch. However, consistency is still Wisconsin’s main enemy.
3. Minnesota had another rough weekend at the North Star College Cup
After rattling off five wins in a row the Gophers came into the North Star College Cup on a little bit of a roll. Said roll is now over after losses to Bemidji State and Minnesota State. The Gophers have now dropped their last four games at the tournament after winning the cup in a shootout its inaugural year.
Minnesota simple struggles to score at times. They looked awful during five-on-five play this weekend and the Gophers’ losses would have been worse if the power play didn’t connect as often as it did.
The team doesn’t have to look far for some motivation, however. Last year’s team was in a much worse spot heading into the North Star Cup and went on a run to win the Big Ten regular-season and postseason crown after its two losses in St. Paul.