Badgers score an impressive split and Ohio State remains undefeated

Good morning everyone. I usually try and post these Sunday evening, but I ran my first full marathon yesterday so my motivation to do anything else was very low. Paula also completed the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon yesterday. It’s safe to say we covered more miles than any other columnist duo.

Five of the six Big Ten teams played games that counted this weekend with Minnesota demolishing the U.S Under-18 Team in an exhibition game on Friday. Here is how things played out:

  • Wisconsin split a home series with Boston College, winning 3-1 on Friday and dropping Sunday’s game 8-5
  • Michigan State was swept by Lake Superior State, 6-1 on Friday and 7-3 on Saturday
  • Penn State beat Mercyhurst 7-0 on Friday night
  • Ohio State and Miami tied 1-1 Saturday evening in Oxford, Ohio
  • Michigan went to Ferris State and defeated the Bulldogs by a 2-1 score on Saturday

Here’s my three thoughts from the weekend:

1. Ohio State is still undefeated

Having a 1-0-2 record isn’t as good as 3-0-0, but considering the Buckeyes haven’t played at home yet and have played three very good teams, I’d consider this start a success. If you consider the way Ohio State has started seasons the past couple years then getting through the first three games without a loss is definitely an accomplishment.

Ohio State headed west on Saturday to face a team that it had struggled against in the past and came away with a 1-1 overtime draw against Miami. David Gust gave the Buckeyes the lead at the 4:32 mark of the first period. Louie Belpedio tied things up for the Red Hawks about four minutes into the second with a 5 on 3 power-play goal. It was a very defensive game, with the two teams combining for only 45 shots.

The Buckeyes have a home-and-home series with Bowling Green next weekend. The Falcons were picked to finish near the top of the WCHA, but have started the season 0-3-1. I’m planning on focusing on Ohio State in this week’s column, so be on the lookout for that.

2. Wisconsin showed how good it can be on Friday, but its shaky defense returned on Sunday

Wisconsin downed Boston College Friday night, but the Eagles outpaced the Badgers on Sunday. Grant Besse scored in the first period of Friday’s game and Ryan Wagner added another in the second. Seamus Malone gave the Badgers a short-lived 3-0 lead before JD Dudek cut the lead back to two 12 seconds later. Matt Jurusik had 29 saves during Friday’s contest. Friday’s game was the exact recipe Wisconsin needs to follow for success this season, grab and early lead and get good goaltending.

Jurusik was not as sharp during Sunday’s game. He gave up six goals and was yanked during the second period. BC scored the first two goals before the Badgers came back to tie things up three minutes into the second period. However, the Eagles scored the next four goals in the period before Cameron Hughes cut the lead to 6-3 (here’s Hughes’ goal, it’s pretty). Wagner and Besse scored in the first half of the third period to cut the defect to one, but Boston College scored two goals with Wisconsin’s goaltender pulled.

I think that this weekend, along last weekend’s split with Northern Michigan, confirms what a lot of us thought going into the season; the Badgers are going to be better, but they will still be prone to defensive lapses and some down games. Regardless, things are looking up in Madison.

3. It’s looking like Michigan State is in for a long season

Michigan State lost a lot from a team that underperformed last season. Having a lot of young players usually means that a  team can go one of two ways, the youngsters can adapt to the game quickly and the team continues on or they take time to develop and the team struggle mightily. Penn State also had a lot of turnover, and though the sample size is very small the Nittany Lions seem to be doing OK. On the other hand, Michigan State looked dreadful this weekend. The Spartans got swept by Lake Superior by a combined score of 13-4.

Michigan State is going to miss Jake Hildebrand this season, both Ed Minney and John Lethemon struggled this weekend. The Spartans offense didn’t do much to help their goaltender, mustering only 20 shots on goal Friday night. MSU put 33 shots on frame Saturday, but Lake Superior scored the first four goals of the game so the Spartans were chasing from the get go.