The Big Ten may not have the best inter-conference record in Division I, but B1G Hockey is still floating above .500 — and I’ll take that, all things considered. Let’s see how Drew Claussen and I are floating so far.
Drew: 4-4-2 (.500)
Paula: 4-4-2 (.500)
Drew: 12-11-4 (.519)
Paula: 14-9-4 (.593)
All six B1G teams are in action this week, although Michigan State plays a single game instead of a series. None of this week’s games is televised.
Canisius at No. 19 Penn State
Drew: Coming back home after a huge weekend on the road, this could be a letdown series for the Nittany Lions. I think Guy Gadowsky will have the team ready and Penn State will sweep.
Paula: Last week, Canisius defeated Robert Morris, 6-3, before tying 2-2. The Nittany Lions beat the Golden Griffins 6-1 on the road at the start of the 2015-16 season. I don’t think it’s wise to pick against Penn State at this point. Games are Friday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at Pegula Ice Arena.
Drew’s picks: Penn State 5-3, 4-2.
Paula’s picks: Penn State 5-2, 4-2.
No. 11 Michigan at Vermont and Dartmouth
Drew: Vermont had a good weekend in Omaha last weekend, picking up a win and a tie, so the Catamounts should be a formidable opponents for the Wolverines. Dartmouth has yet to play a non-exhibition game this season. I see Michigan picking up a couple wins this weekend.
Paula: Friday’s game between the Wolverines and Catamounts may be very telling. Vermont is much improved this season and Michigan is talented but young. This is the first-ever meeting between the Wolverines and Catamounts; Michigan went 1-0-1 against Dartmouth in Ann Arbor Nov. 27-28, 2015. Friday’s game in Gutterson Fieldhouse begins at 7:05 p.m. Saturday’s game in Thompson Arena begins at 7:35 p.m.
Drew’s picks: Michigan 4-3, 5-4.
Paula’s picks: Vermont 4-3, Michigan 4-3.
No. 12 Minnesota at Clarkson and No. 18 St. Lawrence
Drew: The Gophers need a pick-me-up weekend after blowing two leads and getting swept by St. Cloud State last time out. It’s not going to be easy. Clarkson tied No. 15 Providence and defeated No. 5 Massachusetts-Lowell last weekend. St. Lawrence dropped two games against those same two opponents. I think Minnesota will get back on track with a pair of victories this weekend.
Paula: The Gophers haven’t played Clarkson since 1993 and St. Lawrence since 1998. Friday’s game in Cheel Arena in Potsdam and Saturday’s game in Appleton Arena in Canton each begin at 7:00 p.m. Upstate New York — or as those local to Clarkson and St. Lawrence call it, The North Country — is lovely this time of year.
Drew’s picks: Minnesota 4-2, 4-1.
Paula’s picks: Minnesota 3-2, St. Lawrence 3-2.
No. 15 Ohio State at Niagara
Drew: I love the way Ohio State has looked so far this season. If the Buckeyes keep this up, the conference race should be very interesting. The next four opponents are very beatable for Ohio State, but everyone knows the cliche is that games aren’t played on paper. If the Buckeyes can get through the next eight games with a record of 6-2 or better they will be in a good spot going into the conference schedule.
Paula: Niagara is 0-3-2 to start the season. I’m not calling against the Buckeyes until they lose. Games are Friday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in Dwyer Arena.
Drew’s picks: Ohio State 3-1, 3-2.
Paula’s picks: Ohio State 4-2, 4-2.
Princeton at Michigan State
Drew: Michigan State was able to keep Denver from running the Spartans out of the building last weekend, but the lack of any offensive production is cause for worry. This will be Princeton’s first action of the season, which could and — dare I say, should? — help the Spartans. I’m going to say Michigan State breaks through this on Friday.
Paula: I, too, think the Spartans have an excellent chance of picking up their first win, given the way they played last weekend. The teams last met Nov. 28-29, 2014, a split in Hobey Baker Rink. This Friday night game begins at 7:05 p.m. in Munn Ice Arena.
Drew’s pick: Michigan State 3-2.
Paula’s pick: Michigan State 2-1.
Wisconsin at No. 18 St. Lawrence and Clarkson
Drew: The Badgers’ offense showed that it’ll be able to score with any team when it netted eight goals over two games against Boston College, but having a defense capable of giving up eight in one game will hamper Wisconsin’s efforts. That also makes Wisconsin a hard team to pick. I feel like the Badgers could easily pick up a win this weekend, but with the lack of consistency I’m going to pick them to drop both.
Paula: It’s nice that the Badgers will likewise be able to enjoy The North Country this weekend. (Can you tell that I’m a little homesick?) Wisconsin last played St. Lawrence in 2005 and Clarkson in 2006. Friday’s game against the Saints begins at 7:00 p.m. Saturday’s game against the Golden Knights starts at 7:30 p.m.
Drew’s picks: St. Lawrence 5-3, Clarkson 4-3.
Paula’s picks: St. Lawrence 4-2, Clarkson 3-2.