Gophers pick up a sweep, Michigan and Wisconsin split

Four Big Ten teams were in action against each other this weekend. Minnesota traveled to East Lansing to face Michigan State and Wisconsin headed East to square off against Michigan. Penn State and Ohio State had the weekend off. Here’s how the dust settled this weekend:

  • Minnesota swept Michigan State, winning 4-2 on Friday and Saturday
  • Wisconsin defeated Michigan 7-4 on Friday and the Wolverines came back with a 4-1 lead on Saturday

Here are three things I saw this weekend:

1. Gophers get their sweep

On the final weekend of the first half, the Gophers finally swept an opponent in a weekend series.

JT Stenglein got MSU on the board three and a half minutes into Friday’s game before Justin Kloos tied the game for Minnesota a little more than halfway through the period. The Gophers rattled off two goals in less than two minutes in the second period to go up 3-1. The Spartans were able to cut it to 3-2 late in the second but the two sides played an even third period before Darian Romanko scored and empty-net goal.

The Gophers held a 44-14 shot advantage on Friday.

“Score aside, I know that we can compete better than we competed tonight,” Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos said after Friday’s game. “I know we’re more tenacious than that. I know that we can be stronger one-on-one and win more battles. I know we can get to the net better than we did tonight. I’ll give them credit, but I know we can be better than we were tonight.”

Stenglein scored first again on Saturday and Thomas Ebbing lit the lamp six minutes and 13 seconds into the second period to give Michigan State a 2-0 lead. The Gophers, once again, scored two goals in quick succession to tie things up before the end of the period. Brant Gates Jr. scored on the power play a little more than half way through the third period to give Minnesota the lead and Tyler Sheehy scored an empty-netter near the end of the game.

2. Wisconsin’s offense is scary, but the Badgers are inconsistent

Maybe it’s time for some of those fans that have strayed away from the Wisconsin hockey program to start looking for tickets to some games in the second half. Even though, as we saw this weekend, the Badgers are capable of both scoring goals in bunches and struggling to score at all, they have proven that they are a safe bet to split against essentially any team no matter the location.

Wisconsin scored five goals in the second period of Friday’s 7-4 victory at Michigan. Sophomore forward Luke Kunin scored twice during the period. The Badgers chased Michigan goaltender Hayden Lavigne after two periods.

It’s tough to rag on the Badgers too much for Saturday’s game. Michigan went up 2-0 in the first and Lavigne made Red Berenson look like a genius for starting him again, he finished with 34 saves and one goal against.

All in all, a road split with a young and inexperienced goaltender isn’t a bad result for the Badgers. Seriously, go watch this team if you’re in the area. The pictures of a vacant Kohl Center are kind of getting hard to look at.

3. That’s a wrap, kind of

Michigan State hosts Northeastern for a one-game set on Sunday, but the rest of the conference will go on hiatus until after the holidays. All-in-all it has been a pretty good season so far for the the Big Ten with some strong nonconfernce records. I still think the conference is split into the top three and the bottom three, but the bottom three isn’t as weak as it has been in previous seasons and there doesn’t seem to be a clear doormat (see: Wisconsin the past two seasons).