B1G hockey begins Thursday night! First, the running stats for Drew Claussen and me.
Drew: 2-2-2 (.500)
Paula: 2-2-2 (.500)
Drew: 58-35-13 (.608)
Paula: 59-34-13 (.618)
Kudos to Drew for correctly calling the split between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
There is a single Big Ten series this week, Minnesota plays in the last-ever North Star College Cup and Guy Gadowsky’s Nittany Lions travel to Princeton, the program he left for Penn State, for a single game.
Wisconsin vs. No. Ohio State
Drew: Both of these teams have strong offenses, but it might be tough for Ohio State to have another successful weekend if Nick Schileky and Tanner Laczynski are forced to sit out again. On the other hand, Wisconsin’s defense can still be susceptible so even a shorthanded Buckeyes squad could still put up a decent number of goals. Christian Frey has been solid as of late and I think Ohio State will win Thursday’s game at home and then complete the sweep at MSG.
Paula: I am calling a sweep this weekend for the sole reason that the Buckeyes have impressed me with the way they’ve come together through so many injuries since the beginning of December. This a Thursday-Saturday series, with Thursday’s game starting at 7:05 p.m. in Value City Arena and Saturday’s game at 7:00 p.m. in Madison Square Garden, part of the Big Ten Super Saturday. Both teams come off of impressive weekends. The Badgers split with Minnesota at home and the Buckeyes tied and defeated Penn State on the road. Wisconsin is 14-7-3 all-time against the Buckeyes, but last season Ohio State was 2-0-2 against Wisconsin. Saturday’s game is televised by the Big Ten Network, naturally.
Drew’s picks: Ohio State 4-3, 4-1.
Paula’s picks: Ohio State 3-2, 4-2.
No. 6 Minnesota vs. No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud State or No. 20 Bemidji State
Drew: As a Minnesotan, I’m disappointed but not surprised that this will be the final North Star College Cup. Simply not enough fans showed up to keep the tournament going. An argument can be made that the Gophers’ poor results at the tournament directly led to its demise. Minnesota was going to be depended on to carry the attendance, and the fact that the Gophers hadn’t won a game in the tourney since the inaugural year didn’t help things. Price was a factor too. Even though $76 plus fees for four games isn’t a terrible deal, it’s still a decent chunk of change, especially for fans from Duluth, Mankato, St. Cloud and Bemidji that also have to pay for a couple nights a in a hotel.
As for the actual games this year, they should be good. The Gophers lead the Big Ten, Minnesota-Duluth is on top and the NCHC, Bemidji State sits atop the WCHA and St. Cloud State is no slouch. I think the Bulldogs will come out on top this year.
Paula: This should be an outstanding weekend of hockey. Friday will mark the 231st meeting between the Gophers and Bulldogs, with Minnesota leading the series 134-79-17 all-time. These teams split a pair of games in October of 2017. Last week, Minnesota-Duluth swept North Dakota on the road, extending the Bulldogs’ win streak to three games, while the Gophers split on the road against Wisconsin. The tournament is played in St. Paul’s Xcel Center. Friday’s game between Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth begins at 7:00 p.m. and is not televised. Saturday’s game between the Gophers and either SCSU or Bemidji begins at either 4:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. and will be carried by Fox Sports North Plus.
Drew’s picks: Minnesota-Duluth over Minnesota 4-2, Minnesota over St. Cloud State 3-1.
Paula: Minnesota over Duluth, 3-2; Minnesota over either SCSU or BSU, 4-2.
No. 4 Penn State vs. Princeton
Drew: Princeton has some quality wins this season against Bemidji State and Quinnipiac. So it’s obvious that Penn State can’t overlook this 7-11-2 team. With the results against Ohio State last weekend, I don’t think Guy Gadowsky has to be worried about his team overlooking the Tigers. Penn State will win this one fairly comfortably.
Paula: This is the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff, played in the Wells Fargo Center, home of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Nittany Lions were ranked No. 1 for the first time in program history until the they tied and lost to Ohio State at home last weekend. Princeton is looking for its first win since Dec. 26; the Tigers last played Jan. 13-14, when they lost at home to Cornell and tied Colgate. The Nittany Lions beat the Tigers in Pegula Arena, 6-3, Dec. 11, 2015. This Saturday game begins at 7:00 p.m. and is not televised.
Drew’s pick: Penn State 5-2.
Paula’s pick: Penn State 4-2.
Our new president isn’t the only one who makes liberal use of Twitter. You can follow Drew Claussen at @drewclaussen and me at @paulacweston. I’ll be tweeting live from the game in Madison Square Garden Saturday night.