I hope everyone had a great weekend. Four of the six Big Ten teams played nonconference opponents this weekend with Minnesota and Wisconsin taking the weekend off.
Here’s how things played out:
- Michigan State dropped Thursday’s game to Ferris State but rebounded on Saturday to get a split
- Michigan split a series at home with Boston University, winning 4-0 on Friday and losing 4-2 on Saturday
- Penn State swept Alaska-Anchorage at home
- Ohio State hosted Connecticut and picked up a win on Friday before tying Saturday’s contest
Here’s three things I saw this weekend:
1. Penn State kept on rolling
The Nittany Lions improved their record to 9-1-1 by sweeping Alaska-Anchorage at home this weekend. Penn State won both ways this weekend, by blitzing the Sea Wolves in a 6-3 victory and by shutting down UAA’s offense in a 3-1 victory. It put 45 shots on target Friday and followed up with 56 the next night.
Penn State controlled both games from the start. The Nittany Lions took a 4-0 lead through two periods on Friday before the two teams took turns scoring five goals in the third period. On Saturday, they held a 2-0 lead through two periods and hunkered down when the Sea Wolves cut the lead to one in the third period before scoring an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Freshman goaltender Peyton Jones improved to 8-0-1 with two victories this weekend. Penn State will have another great opportunity to pick up a home sweep next weekend when it hosts Arizona State.
2. Ohio State got back into the win column on Friday, but ended with another tie on Saturday
Despite trailing by a 4-2 score more than halfway through the game, Ohio State ended the second period by scoring three goals and tacked on two more in the third to beat UConn 7-4 on Friday.
The Buckeyes fell behind agains on Saturday, by allowing the Huskies to score the first two goals of the game. OSU battle back to tie the fame about four minutes into the second period and took the lead early in the third period. Brian Morgan scored halfway through the third to give the game its final 3-3 score.
The tie was the fourth of the season for Ohio State. That fact coupled with the Buckeyes’ 49-17 shot advantage on Saturday left the Buckeyes frustrated.
“We’re obviously disappointed coming away with another tie,” Mason Jobst said after the game. “We have to bear down and find a way to win in these games.”
3. Another good nonconference weekend
Combined, the four Big Ten teams went 5-2-1 this weekend. It’s obviously way too early to be looking at the PairWise rankings, but right now Penn State, Ohio State and Minnesota are in the top-16 and Wisconsin is No. 18.
It’ll be important for all six teams to finish out their nonconference schedules strong, but as of now it’s looking possible that the Big Ten puts more than on team into the NCAA Tournament. That hasn’t happened since the conference’s inaugural year when Minnesota and Wisconsin made the tournament.
Strong play from at least five of the six teams (sorry, Michigan State fans, I still think the Spartans are destined to play the spoiler role this season) should mean that the conference race will be compelling when Big Ten teams start playing each other in December.