Two splits, a surprising shutout and a predictable sweep — and two weeks left

Such an interesting weekend. It will be an interesting two weeks leading up to the Big Ten tournament.

1. Wisconsin and Minnesota split, so the Badgers are still in the hunt for a regular-season championship.

Minnesota was in first place entering the weekend, three points ahead of second-place Wisconsin. The Badgers beat the Golden Gophers 3-2 Friday night, the Gophers returned the favor Saturday, and the two teams are in exactly the same positions as they were before they faced off in Mariucci Arena. The Badgers scored all five of their goals on the weekend in the second period, coming from behind each night. The difference Saturday was Justin Kloos’s late third-period game-winner for Minnesota.

The Gophers finish the season with series against Michigan State and Michigan. The Badgers finish with Penn State and Ohio State. While Minnesota arguably has the easier remaining schedule, Wisconsin has an opportunity to continue to climb in the PairWise Rankings. The Badgers jumped from No. 20 to No. 13 in the PWR after the weekend’s games, while Minnesota remains fourth.

2. Michigan 1, Ohio State 0.

That was the surprising score of Saturday’s early game between the Wolverines and Buckeyes in Columbus — surprising because Ohio State averages more than four goals per game and Michigan gives up more than three per game on average. Before disintegrating somewhere before midseason, Michigan’s defense was very good, very organized, very capable. In Saturday’s shutout win, it was interesting to see that defense emerge once more and to get a glimpse of what a focused Michigan team is capable of doing. Senior Zach Nagelvoort earned his fourth win of the season, his second shutout of the season and the ninth of his career. The Buckeyes outshot the Wolverines 84-57 for the series.

The win gave the Wolverines a split for the weekend after losing 4-2 Friday. That split cost Ohio State its third-place spot in the Big Ten Standings and two spots in the PairWise Rankings. Now the Buckeyes are No. 15 in the PWR, meaning that they’ll likely have to win out the season against Michigan State and Wisconsin to move anywhere off that PWR bubble.

3. Penn State takes care of business.

The Nittany Lions swept Michigan State on the road, 4-2 and 4-1, moving Penn State into third place in the B1G standings with a two-point lead over Ohio State and bumping the Nittany Lions from 11th to ninth in the PairWise Rankings. Friday’s game was a routine 1-1 game until the last 10 minutes of the third period, which saw a bunch of penalties and three consecutive Penn State goals — the first a game-tying goal scored 13 seconds after the Spartans pulled ahead. Penn State scored three in the first period Saturday and never really looked back.

To end the season, the Nittany Lions host Wisconsin and travel to Michigan. Penn State is eight points out of first place and five behind the second-place Badgers. While eight points is a big gap to close, it’s quite possible for Penn State to finish second — and I wouldn’t count the Nittany Lions out completely.


  1. I would expect UNH’s SOS to be higher with teams like Cornell, Miami(OH), BC, BU, and Maine on the schedule…but guess now

  2. Yale #1 you got to be kidding! Winning all their games in 1 of the 3 weak conferences doesn’t make them a top team or even a top 10 team. Strength of schedule should be the number 1 factor in determining who’s #1. Go sioux!

  3. I’ve been wondering, since the host in St. Louis is the CCHA, is there a specific team that is required to play there as a host for the tourney? Like is the CCHA champion guaranteed to go there?

  4. I’m guessing an attendance in the 300 range for all next week AHA games in Rochester. We were at the Saturday game in Niagara and easily 40% of the crowd was loud (for most the game), and wore Tiger Orange.
    GO TIGERS!!! Regroup and fight again next year, another year smarter and stronger!

    • It was worth a Tweet, which I did last night. It’s now happened 3 times in 33 series. Canisius has now done it twice,

      Other useless trivia: All but Canisius has won a conference championship of some kind. Mercyhurst won the MAAC in 2001 and 2003 and AHA in 2005. Niagara won the CHA in 2000 (no autobid but got an at-large bid), 2004 and 2008. UConn won the MAAC in 2000 but the league didn’t have an autobid yet. So UConn and Canisius have never been to the NCAA tournament.

  5. Even with Canisius and Niagara I still think the stands will seem empty, as it is they are the 4pm game on Friday. Bet is each school will bring a bus maybe 2. Each school is more basketball, Niagara does a decent job a filling their arena, despite a lack of student interest (They go to the basketball games) with locals and a decent youth hockey imprint, but hardly anyone will travel, these are causal fans at best…

  6. Slight correction. PSU hosts Wisconsin and travels to Michigan to close out the season. Thanks for all the work you’ve done this year Paula, I appreciate it.

  7. NIce recap artical Pauly!

    Still pretty steamed about Saturday’s game. Wisco shoulda had the sweep and we let em off the hook. Wisco is ramping it up guy’s! Just in time for the natty. Gotta think they’re a dark hoarse favorite too win it all! ###############ONWISCONSON

    • Go to 1500espn to check out Pitlicks shot dancing on the goal line. Dance Jurusik…..Dance.

      Steamed? C’mon…the better team won.

    • Minnesota played Zombie hockey for 45-50 minutes on Friday and came close to tying it up. Worst 2+ periods of hockey this half of the year. Wisconsin is a much improved squad. Glad to see they’ve removed the Eaves’ goon squad mentality.

        • I was there. Their passing was horrible for the first two periods. Maybe after the Penn State sweep I was expecting them to come out firing on all cylinders. Both nights we had some decent odd man rushes we just didn’t connect on. Wisconsin capitalized on their break-ways and we didn’t on Friday. Maybe it’s the curse of high expectations.

    • A hot goalie can defeat a superior team every time. Gophers had the offense Friday but Wisconsin had the goalie. Why does Minnesota play lousy on Friday? Maybe they should play a d3 teaming thursday to pull theirs heads out of their *sees.

  8. MN will probably not win it all this year (although I’m hopeful), but the quality and overall consistency of play this year demonstrates the importance of a strong senior class.


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