Sweeps as far as the eye can see

Good evening, everyone. All six Big Ten teams were in action against each other this weekend. Things went very well for three teams, and not so well for their opponents. Here’s how things ended up:

  • Minnesota swept Penn State on the road
  • Wisconsin swept Michigan at home
  • Ohio State swept Michigan State at home

Here are my three thoughts from the weekend:

1. It’s not over until it’s over

It’s hard to put into words how crazy the final two and a half minutes of Saturday’s game between Minnesota and Penn State was. Minnesota’s Tyler Sheehy tied the game with 2:11 left in the third period. The game remained tied for exactly 45 seconds before Penn State’s Denis Smirnov was hauled down on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot, which he calmly converted on and gave his team a 3-2 lead. The lead, however, didn’t last as Minnesota tied the game again when Justin Kloos scored with the goaltender pulled and four seconds left in the period.

The Gophers finished the job in overtime when Kloos fed Rem Pitlick for the game-winner.

If you haven’t yet, check out the highlights.

The win, coupled with Minnesota’s 6-3 win on Friday means that the Gophers are in the drivers seat with three more weekends of conference play remaining. The Gophers are first in the standings with 33 points, Wisconsin is second with 30, Ohio State is third with 23, Penn State dropped to fourth with 22, Michigan has 10 and Michigan State has eight. Minnesota has a 90 percent chance of winning the regular-season crown, according to playoffstatus.com.

Minnesota and Wisconsin are the only two teams with a realistic chance of winning the conference, which is convenient because they play each other next weekend.

2. Wisconsin’s offense shined again 

Michigan hung around all weekend, but when it mattered the Badgers were too much for the Wolverines. Michigan managed to tie the game in the third period on Friday and Saturday, but Wisconsin scored three unanswered goals to end Friday’s game and two on Saturday to pick up the sweep. The Badgers won 5-2 on Friday and 6-3 on Saturday.

If Wisconsin wants to take the majority of the points from Minnesota next weekend and be in the catbird seat for the final weekends of play, its going to need an offensive outpouring like this weekend. I don’t like the Badgers chances in a 2-1 or 3-2 game against the Gophers but they can come out on top if the game turns into a track meet.

Here’s the recap from Saturday’s game.

3. Ohio State battled all weekend

It wasn’t easy, but two one-goal road wins jumped Ohio State over Penn State in the standings. Especially after last weekend’s goal fest with Minnesota, it was nice to see that the Buckeyes managed to win a couple relatively low-scoring games and didn’t have to use both goaltenders in one game. Christian Frey played well all weekend and picked up both wins as the Buckeyes won 3-2 on Friday and 4-3 on Saturday.

With Michigan State sitting in last place, this could be a potential first-round matchup at the final Big Ten Tournament. If that happens, these games showed us that it would be worth tuning into. Both Michigan teams have struggled mightily this season, but with all six team making the tournament they can still play a major role in the postseason tournament.

Here’s the recap from Friday’s game.

43 COMMENTS

  1. First, I love the shootout and I think it would be great for all of college hockey to get it…one of the more exciting times at lawson last year was watching Dennis Brown get dirty on Cal Heeter.
    Second a shout out to Dane Walters and his hat trick this weekend…Way to go Broncos!!!!

    • Definite congratulations to Walters for the hat trick.  Walters has scored in batches this season.  Interesting player, for sure.

      Lots of fans love the shootout.  I know I’m in the minority.  Unlike most of the world, though, I don’t understand the need to eliminate ties — nor to add a point for something that has absolutely nothing to do with the previous 65 minutes of play.  Just me.

      • You are NOT in the minority about the shootout.  I do not know one fan (not that I know more than only several dozen…)  who likes the shootout.  I also know one coach who despises it–maybe more than I do.  Your take on the MSU celebration is accurate.  They didn’t “win”–especially in the eyes of the NCAA.

  2. Hi Paula!

    I enjoy your articles.  I’m actually ambivalent about the shootout.  Yes, it’s an exciting way to determine winners and losers after overtimes, but if it went away, I wouldn’t have a problem with that, either.  As for what I want Santa to bring my team, I have three things … a nice run in the NCAA Tournament, more stellar recruiting classes, and better fan support!

    Ed

  3. OSU is clearly overrated.  Miami dominated them all weekend.  It took a sketchy call from an official for the OSU victory Saturday night.

    • Why do so many MU fans (apologies if you aren’t but I highly doubt it) complain about the officiating when you lose?  Take a look at your season thread and follow along.  No complaints about the refs for a few weeks, then you lose to NMU and someone calls the officiating into question.  Lose Saturday and it is the same thing.  In 40 years of following this sport I have done my share of complaining about the refs, but I have never posted on this site about poor officiating following a loss.  It shows bad form and should be/rightly is considered sour grapes.   

      • It’s not just referees. Ever since Miami kind of put the nail in the coffin of the CCHA, reporters, announcers, officials and others seem to have new bias against the hawks.  If you think I’m paranoid, explain this weeks poll

        19th ranked Miami beats 4th ranked Ohio State….Ohio State doesn’t move and Miami gets dropped off the poll and is moved down to the middle of the “others getting votes” list.  This means Miami needs to beat a 4th ranked team twice just to maintain around 19th place???  Since Ohio State is the highest ranked CCHA team, how can the Hawks ever advance in the USCHO poll?

        Thank heavens for the computer generated Pairwise.

        • You are paranoid, and whatever it is it certainly ISN’T the referees.  No one I know of is blaming MU for the demise of the CCHA.  Once MSU and UM were gone and Notre Dame was reluctant to publicly state their 1st desire was to remain in the CCHA, Miami saw the writing on the wall.  Like half of college hockey (my team most assuredly doing the same) they were looking out for their “best interests.”  Some blame Penn State, and plenty blame DU and North Dakota. Some even blame the Irish.  Maybe people aren’t putting MU in the ridiculously large USCHO poll because no one knows yet what they are this year.  The team we saw in the first few weeks who couldn’t get out of their own way, the team we saw in November that looked like their recent NCAA and FF teams, or the one we’ve seen the last two weeks that is 1-3?  Miami is a .500 team.  No .500 team deserves to be ranked in any poll, meaningless or otherwise, after half a season has been played.   

        • That same computer-generated PairWise that has Miami at 19?  Well, there were 21 people that voted Miami among the top 20 in this week’s USCHO.com Poll (and, no, there is no conspiracy to keep them out of the poll — it’s all math), so the voters and that computer-generated PWR are generally in agreement.

          Miami  has lost hree of its last four and had a very bad start to the season.  The RedHawks will probably have to earn a little respect before people start voting for them again. You may recall that Miami  was No. 2 in the first USCHO.com and that the RedHawks were No. 2 in both the coaches and media CCHA preseason polls. Considering that those polls were released after any perceived coffin-pounding that Miami may have done, your revenge theory doesn’t make sense.

          I usually publish my ballot with my weekly column, but as there is no column this week, I plan to publish it Friday.  You’ll see how I voted Miami then.

  4. Shootouts are for the fans more than the teams.  That said, my WMU Broncos have benefited greatly of the ties and Shoot-out wins over the past 1 1/2 seasons. 

    I’m guessing a Fan Survey would result in a WIN for the Shoot-out.  We’ll see what the NCHC does with it, but my $$$ is on the shoot-out.

  5. Thanx for the writey, Dru Hill! you’re my guy. Anyways, nice too see wiscy and goofers hold serve. Gonna be wild wild next weekend in minny. really looking forward too it, you guys. rump kickin weekend! and SoDak Hawks got swept!!! so money. man. #ONWISCONSON

  6. This isn’t exactly a pressing issue, but I was just thinking about it as I was watching the MN-PSU game yesterday.

    What are they going to do next year when only six of seven teams can play a conf opponent each weekend?

    I always feel like a weekend off late in the season feels like a huge drag.
    There’s so much exciting stuff going on, and your team is just sitting there.

    But I think it will be very difficult to schedule a non-conf series late in the season, unless it’s with an independent or if there is another conference in this same situation.

  7. I’m not sure Wisconsin’s best chance against Minnesota this weekend would be in a shootout. The Badgers are 9-3-0 in their last 12, but 1-3 in games when they give up 4 or more goals. The Gophers have more speed than the Badgers and are very comfortable in an up-tempo game, especially at home. When the Badgers swept Ohio State, it was in two low scoring games.

    Should be a great series! Wisconsin is definitely back.

    • No one is slithering anywhere. Sorry, I had better things to do on a 4 day weekend than continue to rent space in your empty skull.

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